Today I am delighted to welcome back to my blog, Sanjida Kay, who is celebrating the publication of her second psychological thriller, The Stolen Child. You may read my review of this deliciously chilling story here. Sanjida kindly agreed to answer some questions which I put together as I read the book. I hope you find her answers as interesting as I did.
1. Publicity for books these days takes many forms. I enjoyed watching the book trailer (see below) and the interview you posted on YouTube about the inspirations for the book (also included below). I know that, amongst your many roles, you have worked in broadcasting. Was it your choice to use these media to promote your book?
Thank you so much for having me back to your blog, Jackie! I’m glad you liked them! I’ve spent years working as a TV director and presenter, so it’s fun to be able to use those skills, particularly in something as creative as a book trailer. Cameraman, Rob Franklin, shot one of my BBC documentaries, and contacted me recently to ask if we could work on a book-related project. Not only did he do an amazing job filming the trailer and the Q&A, he enlisted the help of a drone pilot, Jack Stevenson, who shot some incredible footage of Evie when she’s lost on the moor, wearing only her Frozen dress.
2. I love the jacket design for The Stolen Child and this is brought to life in your book trailer. Did you have any say in the picture used?
It was a shock when I had my first novel published at the age of 25, to discover that authors have NO say in their book covers. I’m so fortunate to be published by Corvus Books, though, as I’ve loved both the book jacket for Bone by Bone, my first thriller, as well as the second one for The Stolen Child. I think their design has perfectly captured the colour, the wildness and the desolation of the West Yorkshire moors.
3. The undercurrent of unease that pervades the story had me suspecting just about every character introduced. Did you know how each their roles would play out when you started writing them?
I had a brilliant brainstorming session with crime writer, Sarah Hilary, when I first came up with the idea for The Stolen Child. She suggested I make a number of characters sound suspicious and I’m glad I did. When I began writing, I knew who would be a suspect, and how, to a certain extent, but I hope I’ve managed to push that sense of distrust all the way through.
4. One of the themes in the book is trust and how fragile it is under pressure. With your imagination, do you ever catch yourself pondering the secrets your acquaintances may hold?
I suppose it’s no great surprise that my PhD was on Theory of Mind, which is essentially how we know what other people are thinking. Apparently, most of us can cope with up to six levels of ‘intentionality’, which could go something like this:
Does she know that I know that I think she’s wondering who else knows what she knows about what her sister believes is her half- sister’s secret?!
So, yes! Bone by Bone and The Stolen Child tap the commonly perceived threat in dark, lonely locations.
5. Has writing such disturbing stories affected the way you react to, for example, looking outside when alone in your house at night with your daughter, or walking in isolated locations?
Like many women, I will often choose not to walk home at night or to go for a run in isolated places because of the potential danger. I feel a lot safer in the countryside than I do in the city, though. But I don’t suppose watching seven seasons of The Walking Dead has helped my anxiety levels!
6. Your protagonist in The Stolen Child is an artist. Have you ever tried your hand at painting?
I took an A level in art, but I didn’t carry on painting for long after that. I’d love to have the time to return to it at some point. Luckily, I’m friends with a brilliant artist, Elaine Jones, and I grilled her on how she paints, as well as how she manages to juggle being an artist, with bringing up two small children.
7. And finally, you mentioned you brainstorming session with Sarah Hilary and thank her in the book’s acknowledgements. Does hanging out with other authors of dark, twisty thrillers affect the way you think?
Bristol is a brilliant place to live if you’re a novelist: it’s full of talented thriller writers, such as CL Taylor, Jane Shemilt and Gilly Macmillan – and Sarah is nearby, in Bath. It’s certainly refreshing to be able to meet up now and again and have an in-depth chat about writing with people who understand what you’re going through and can cheer you along the way. We’re all quite normal on the surface.
Thank you so much Sanjida, I love the hint of suspicion you have left us with there!
Now, doesn’t the book look fabulous?
The Stolen Child is published by Corvus Books and is available to buy now.