Blog Tour: Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister

Today, I’m delighted to host the next stop on the Anything You Do Say blog tour, written by Gillian McAllister and published by Penguin Random House Publishers. As part of the tour I have a fab Q&A with the author herself.

First up is the blurb:

Joanna is an avoider. So far she has spent her adult life hiding bank statements and changing career aspirations weekly.

But then one night Joanna hears footsteps on the way home. Is she being followed? She is sure it’s him; the man from the bar who wouldn’t leave her alone. Hearing the steps speed up Joanna turns and pushes with all of her might, sending her pursuer tumbling down the steps and lying motionless on the floor. 

Now Joanna has to do the thing she hates most – make a decision. Fight or flight? Truth or lie? Right or wrong?

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Welcome to the CKT blog, Gillian.

To start off with, could you tell us about your new novel Anything You Do Say?

Of course. Anything You Do Say is about a woman, Joanna, who receives some unwanted attention in a bar late one night. She leaves, and is sure the man has followed her. As he comes towards her, she lashes out, pushing him down a flight of concrete steps. He lies motionless at the bottom. At this point, two things happen: 1. She realises it wasn’t him 2. The narrative splits, Sliding Doors style, into two strands. In Reveal, Joanna calls 999, confesses, and is charged. In Conceal, she leaves the scene and goes on the run.

How did you come up with the idea for it? It is such a brilliant concept, I’m sure we all wish we thought of it!

Thank you – that’s very kind! I had been toying with the idea of writing a Sliding Doors style novel for months, but I wanted to do something original with it. I am a crime writer, so, one night, as I was taking the bins out (glamorous, I know), I thought: I wonder what a crime slant on Sliding Doors would look like?  And then, that night, I woke at 2.29am and thought: the decision over whether to hand yourself in. That’s honestly how it was born. Strange, I know.

You chose to tell the narrative from two different parallel stories, based on different decisions your main protagonist chooses. Which one did you enjoy writing the most?

I think I preferred writing Reveal, where Joanna hands herself in. It is the more ‘legal’ storyline and the structure of the justice system is a helpful plotting device: there’s police custody, a bail hearing, and then evidence gathering, witness interviewing, and a trial.

I found Conceal much harder. Partly because it was about unintended consequences of actions – which could go anywhere – and partly because it was hard to create tension: what Joanna was most afraid of (being found out) was already happening in Reveal. I re-wrote the Conceal strand three times as a result. Eventually, it came to me: she had to make it much, much worse for herself.

Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process, do you plot the story out first or dive right in and see where it takes you? Or a mixture of the two?

I’m a big plotter. I don’t think I could write psychological thrillers without plotting. I open Microsoft excel, split it into forty boxes, and gradually fill them in, which takes weeks. Inevitably, I stray from it, re-write it, re-work parts of it, but I couldn’t be without my trusty outline: it stays open on my computer for the entire year I am writing the book.

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You also created a regular podcast with Holly Seddon, called The Honest Author’s Podcast (which I love). What was the idea behind this and how did it come about?

What an interesting question! We do have a podcast. We met for the first time at the Killer Women festival in London and became firm friends. I floated the idea of wanting to start a podcast and Holly replied enthusiastically. We decided to give it a go. We had heard of lots of podcasts about writing in general and getting agents but we didn’t know so many about what it’s actually like to be an author. It’s almost a year on and still going strong. Plus, she’s become one of my best friends, and I get to chat to her for a few hours every other week – we just so happen to record it!

 What books would you recommend for the devoted crime reader?

  • You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood
  • Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner
  • The Second Sister by Claire Kendal
  • Don’t Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon. What these novels have in common is a crime heart surrounded by really brilliant characters – they’re all so authentic.

Are you working on anything at the moment? If socan you tell us a little bit about it without giving too much away?

I have just finished my third novel, No Further Questions. It’s about a woman who looks after her sister’s eight-week old for the night. The next morning, she discovers the baby has died in her care. The circumstances look suspicious, and she’s charged with manslaughter.

Oh my – sounds so interesting, I’ll be looking out for that one! And finally, do you know which decision you would’ve gone for? Would you have run or would you have told?

Oh, definitely, absolutely Reveal. I’m a lawyer!

Thank you Gillian for letting me grill you, it’s been a lot of fun!

Anything You Do Say isn’t quite out yet, but with the ebook out on 19th October 2017 and the Paperback out 25th January 2018, you can preorder it here.

To find out more about Gillian McAllister follow her on Twitter at @GillianMAuthor.

Don’t forget to check out all the other fab stops on the tour

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Chiller Review: Everything But The Truth by Gillian McAllister

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Do you ever check your partner’s phone? 
Should you?
Are you prepared for the consequences?

It all started with the email.

Rachel didn’t even mean to look. She loves Jack and she’s pregnant with their child. She trusts him.

But now she’s seen it, she can’t undo that moment. Or the chain of events it has set in motion.

Why has Jack been lying about his past? Just what exactly is he hiding? And doesn’t Rachel have a right to know the truth at any cost?

Wow! I adored this book and just devoured this.

Rachel (same name as me so what’s not to like ha-ha) has not known Jack that long but she knows he is something special and their relationship is something so bright she can’t begin to describe – she’s even pregnant with his child. But that all changes when one night an email pings onto Jack’s iPad, she didn’t mean to read it. It was an accident. But she can’t undo what she’s just seen, or let it go. As Rachel starts to wonder if Jack has been lying about his past and what he is hiding, she starts noticing small inconsistencies. But as Rachel digs deeper she realises there’s more to his story then he is telling her.

I liked both characters and found them very believable. Even though Rachel’s actions in particular can be somewhat questionable as she seeks to uncover the truth, I could also sympathise with her desperation to know. I also really weirdly liked the character of Jack and could totally understand what led him to do something inexcusable.

This story is told in both the present day and set one year ago which slowly unravels Rachel’s secret, a secret she’s terrified of anyone finding out and I think this is partly why she becomes so obsessed with Jack and his past.

I throughly enjoyed this book and found myself absorbed in Rachel’s and Jack’s world. I especially loved setting of Oban in Scotland was particularly creepy and isolated which created tension and kept me as the reader on my toes.

What I also loved about this book is that the author isn’t afraid to cross into uncomfortable territory and plays on the characters dark secrets to create a compelling story.

The heart of this story is about love and relationships and the depths people would go to uncover the truth. I think what really makes this novel is the ending, it really ties up the story of Rachel and Jack and in a way I wasn’t expecting.

I think this is another fabulous debut Domestic Noir novel which has a heart-breaking romance at the centre of the story but isn’t afraid to take a dark turn. I would definitely recommend this novel for anyone who likes a great psychological thriller.

I will be keeping an eye out for future novels by this author!

I would like to say a big thanks to Michael Joseph, part of Penguin Random House UK for my advanced review copy.

This novel is out now and can be purchased through Amazon here

Or Waterstones here

To find out more about Gillian McAllister follow her on Twitter at @GillianMAuthor.