Asia Mackay is the author of Killing It. Her new novel, The Nursery, is published by Zaffre on 5 September 2019.
Asia kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about The Nursery.
Lex Tyler is an elite secret agent for Platform Eight, an underground branch of the security services. In The Nursery the latest threat to Eight, and all the intelligence services, is a headhunting website on the dark web – it connects criminals with traitorous security operatives all with a simple right swipe. Secrets are being leaked. Missions are failing. Agents are dying. Lex and her team need to identify and eliminate the traitor in their midst before they assassinate China’s Minister of Commerce and ruin relations between the UK and China forever. At home Lex has her own problems – a husband who doesn’t know exactly what her job entails, and a two-year-old daughter who’s developed a worrying love of biting. Can Lex have it all, keep it all and, more importantly, survive it all?
2. What inspired the book?
One night I was crawling across my kids’ bedroom floor trying not to wake the baby… I thought how if I had special ops training I might mange to make it out of there. It sparked the idea of a secret agent, who was also a mother, working on missions of international importance and still trying to rush home in time for bath time. For the premise of The Nursery I was inspired by how we are now going online for everything and anything – it made me think what if the criminal underworld did the same.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
A bit of both. I start off with a rough plan but happy to follow wherever the words go. Something that seems great in the plan may prove impossible to pull off when it comes to actually writing it. For The Nursery and Killing It I had to kind of reverse plan as I first thought of scenarios where a parenting/ spy situation could cross over eg Lex using her training to scale a wall and retrieve a USB drive from a high beam in a soft play area – and then work it into the plot. Why is the handover happening there? What’s on the USB drive?
4. Having been through the publishing process is there anything about the process of creating a novel that surprised you?
I had never really thought about it before but just how many people are involved in the process of bringing your book to life. Editing, copy-editing, proof-reading, marketing, cover design, sales, publicity etc etc. It’s a huge group effort and it’s very exciting when think of the big team all behind you and your words. Now that I use Twitter I’ve also been surprised and very appreciative of just what a supportive community people who love books are – from book bloggers, to authors, to anyone in publishing – everyone wants to shout about the books they have loved and it’s so great picking up recommendations from people who take the time to tweet/write/ blog about what they’ve enjoyed.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I have four kids so it can be pretty much all-consuming juggling them and their far busier social schedules…. which isn’t that relaxing. When I do manage to get a bit of time to myself and want time-off from writing I will try and read. Which is now, somewhat annoyingly, not always so relaxing (wow this book is so good I am so intimidated / God I hate this book and everyone else loves it what am I missing?/ Dammit that is such a great idea why didn’t I think of that?). So yes now the ultimate relaxation is watching television. Something gripping or funny enough can forget everything else going on in life.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
I would finally read War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – it would take a while to get through for the first time and I am sure with every read thereafter would appreciate it more.
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?
Do you really hold it against friends if they don’t read your books?
YES I DO, I REALLY DO
About the book
Trying to balance life with a two-year-old and career as an international spy is proving one of Lex Tyler’s greatest challenges yet. Her toddler has a newfound love of biting, and her husband calls her in frustration when she’s forgotten to pick up the dry cleaning. In her international espionage role, Lex has been tasked with tracking down and eliminating the traitor in MI6, who has been selling information to a criminal underworld headhunting website that connects intelligence operatives with all manner of bad people. Deals get made. Secrets get sold. Missions fail, and agents die. Surviving both the terrible twos and this traitor might be too much for Lex to handle.
About the author
A half-Chinese, half-Scottish Londoner, Asia studied Anthropology at Durham University, after which she started a career in television. She presented and produced lifestyle programmes in Shanghai before moving back to London, where she worked for Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman as Project Manager on their round the world motorbike documentaries. She wrote her debut novel Killing It on maternity leave and undertook a Faber Academy course to help her finish it. She has since been shortlisted for the Comedy Women in Print Prize. The Nursey is the second book in the Killing It series. Asia lives in London with her husband, four young children and two dogs.
*I was asked to host this Q&A in order to help promote The Nursery. I have not received a copy of the book or any other payment for doing so.*