Harriet Tyce’s debut novel, Blood Orange, was published by Wildfire on 21 February 2019.
Harriet kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about Blood Orange.
It’s a psychological thriller about a criminal barrister called Alison. Her career is flourishing – she’s just been given her first murder case – but her personal life is spiraling out of control because of the toxic affair she’s having with her instructing solicitor. She’s messing up as a wife and as a mother and the big question running through the book is whether she will be able to sort herself out in time before she loses everything.
2. What inspired the book?
I was a criminal barrister myself for ten years. I left the Bar when I had children but I have always thought about how what it would have been like if I’d stayed in criminal practice, dealing with stress at such a high level and also with the demands of family life so I took that set-up and then raised the stakes as high as I could for Alison.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
I plan to a certain extent in that I know the basic narrative arc, what the set-up is at the start, and how it will end. It’s a basic road map – I know my intended destination, but I don’t know how I’m going to get there. I start most scenes with a clear idea of what needs to be achieved in terms of moving the plot forward, but I don’t tend to know how it’s going to happen until I start writing.
4. Is there anything about the process of creating a novel which surprised you?
In part, the process I’ve described in the answer above – the way that scenes develop and characters behave without a deliberate decision to make that happen on my part. I think when I’m in the middle of it, my subconscious doesn’t let go at any point, even when I’m doing something completely unrelated. I might have hit a problem with the plot and while I’m doing the washing up, a solution will present itself. So far, whenever I’ve bricked myself into a corner with something, I’ve managed to find a way out. Not necessarily a good way, but a starting point of a break in the impasse.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I’m not sure I’m very good at relaxing and getting away from it all in terms of writing – I do read a lot but I’m also stuck to my phone and social media, even if I’m on holiday, because I enjoy it (and am in the grips of a helpless addiction…!). I do a bit of yoga and I go for walks and I love spending time with friends and family but I don’t really switch off from all this, largely because I find it so much fun!
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
That sounds like one of the worst scenarios in the world! In order to give the widest range of variety, I’d say the Collected Works of Shakespeare, but I think that might be cheating. Roberto Bolano’s 2666 is a big meaty book that would keep me going for a decade or so…
7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
Excellent question! I would like to be asked what food fuels my writing and my answer would always be cheese and a judicious helping of red wine of an evening.
About the book
Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…
Just one more night. Then I’ll end it.
Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.
I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up.
Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself.
I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing.
But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….
About the author
Harriet Tyce grew up in Edinburgh and studied English at Oxford University before doing a law conversion course at City University. She practised as a criminal barrister in London for nearly a decade, and recently completed an MA in Creative Writing – Crime Fiction at the University of East Anglia. She lives in north London. Blood Orange is her debut novel.
*I was asked to post this Q&A to help promote Blood Orange. I did not receive payment for hosting this content. I did receive a copy of the book in advance.*