SINCE Keighley author Sophie Hannah learned to write aged five, she has been penning stories.
Combine that with a lifelong fascination with crime, thrillers and mysteries and it seems inevitable that she would forge a career as an author of gripping thriller novels.
Now a married mother-of-two, she has just published her fourth novel ...the other half lives, and will be visiting Huddersfield next Wednesday as part of a signing tour to promote the book.
She will be at Waterstones in Kingsgate from 6.30pm and says she is looking forward to meeting fans of her work.
“It’s nice to meet people who have read my books. They can tell me what they think. I don’t always agree or do what they suggest, but it’s good market research because I can get their opinions direct.”
One half dies...the other half lives is the latest in a series of novels which feature DC Simon Waterhouse. This time, the plot centres on Ruth Bussey, a woman who has done something she regrets and been punished harshly for it.
When she finds love with Aidan Seed, he tries to convince her she deserves happiness by revealing that he murdered a woman. The problem is, Ruth knows the woman – and she is definitely alive and well.
It is up to DC Waterhouse to discover why a man would admit a murder that never happened – and save other lives that are in danger.
The book is a combination of clever plotting and an exploration of relationships and psyche.
Sophie said: “My books are about relationships. They are never about drug running or guns or that kind of crime. I also seem to have an obsession with identity, people being or not being who they say they are.”
Sophie finds inspiration everywhere – the idea for the other half lives actually sprung from watching an episode of The Bill, where a man was confessing to a murder to protect the real killer.
Sophie said: “I wondered if there’s ever been a crime drama where someone confessed to a murder that nobody’s committed? That fascinated me and it was also a challenge to create a plot, but I like a challenge.”
She is also inspired by other writers, from Enid Blyton to Ruth Rendell.
“I started with Secret Seven books as a child and went on to Agatha Christie and Ruth Rendell. I like Agatha Christie’s plotting, with moments that make the reader gasp with lots of twists.
“Ruth Rendell writes well about people whose psyches are slightly disturbed. Both were big influences. But you always write like yourself. It just takes time to perfect your style and I feel I have found mine now.”
Part of that style is always having a female protagonist.
Sophie said: “I feel comfortable writing from the female perspective. Two of my favourite authors, Nikki French and Joyce Fielding, both write ‘women in peril’ first person thrillers. Also I think it’s mainly women who read books by women, so it is good to write from the female viewpoint.”
Sophie’s novels are set to get a whole new audience soon – they have been bought up by Hat Trick productions to produce a series for ITV1.
It is the first time her work has been adapted for television and she is excited.
“The first one is being done now and I have seen some of it. As someone who will watch all the crime dramas I can get my hands on, it looks like something I would watch.
“I judge my work by seeing if I would want to read those books or watch the programme. I think the series would work well, but TV is a precarious thing and I am excited but not counting my chickens.”
Despite the prospect of a TV series propelling her to fame, Sophie is currently concentrating on her next book, A Room Swept White, which she is halfway through.
Since becoming a full-time writer after having her first book published in 2005, Sophie has produced one novel a year.
She said: “I could spend five years perfecting a book. But if you write genre fiction, publishers like to get a book a year. Thriller readers are avid and they want the next book straightaway. So I work all the time!”
As well as her thrillers, Sophie also writes poetry and short stories. Her fifth collection of poems, Pessimism for Beginners, was short-listed for the 2007 TS Eliot Award.
But at the moment, her heart lies with creating chilling mysteries.
“At the moment I still have a burning desire to carry on with psychological thrillers. I am really quite obsessed.”
To find out more about Sophie and her work, visit www.sophiehannah.com
One half dies...the other half lives is published by Hodder & Stoughton, priced at £12.99 in hardback.