Susi Holliday is a crime novelist. She has worked as a statistician in the pharmaceutical industry. Her first novel, Black Wood was published in 2015 and her second, Willow Walk, is out now. Susi met me at The Slaughterhouse where we talked about her new release and her literary influences.
Tell us about your latest novel.
My latest novel is called Willow Walk. It’s set in Banktoun – the same fictional small Scottish town as in my first book, Black Wood. It has some recurring characters, but it’s not a series as such. I’d describe it as psychological suspense, with a bit of police procedural thrown in. The main character in this one is Marie Bloomfield. All’s going swimmingly for her, until she gets a pile of letters from someone from a long time ago, someone who shouldn’t be able to contact her since she moved away and changed her identity. It’s a creepy tale of obsession and the bonds that you just can’t break. It contains some disturbing stuff – a freaky fairground, dodgy (no-longer-legal) highs and a party to end all parties. It’s very dark, but it was fun to write.
Who are your literary influences?
A bit of an eclectic mix… from Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, to everything by Stephen King and many things in between. Oh, and a bit of Jackie Collins thrown in. Nowadays I seem to be reading a lot of new writers, and I’m not reading as much horror any more – but horror is still something I like to pull into my writing as much as I can. If I’m scared writing it, then hopefully the reader will be scared reading it.
How important is the family in your fictions?
Very! All three of my books set in the small Scottish town of Banktoun feature families with some very dark secrets. In Black Wood, the main character, Jo, has been mostly brought up by her grandmother and she still owns the family home – a creepy cottage in the woods where bad things have happened, and keep happening. In Willow Walk, the relationship between the protagonist and the antagonist is key, as they are twins (female/male) and they have a very complex situation to deal with. In the third book, The Damselfly, a teenage girl is found dead in her bed, and the relationship between her and her mother and her siblings is a critical part of this book. I think all my families are pretty dysfunctional, but I also think that reflects real life. No one has the perfect family, but family bonds can be very strong.
What else is on the cards for you this year?
Finishing book 3, maybe writing a short story or two. Catching up on some reading, and then planning and writing book 4 – which is a standalone and very different from the Banktoun-set books. I’m very excited to be starting something fresh. I’ll be talking about my books at Bouchercon in New Orleans next month too. Can’t wait!
Thank you Susi for a great interview.
‘Willow Walk’ can be found at Amazon.co.uk (Kindle and paperback), Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository, the publisher, Black & White Publishing and more via Goodreads Online Stores dropdown menu.