The Crime Writers’ Association

Crime Writers in Residence – at home with AJ Waines

Crime Writers in Residence>Q&A

The CRA: Please tell us a little about yourself and the books you write.

My name is AJ Waines. I used to be a psychotherapist and have an irrepressible curiosity over the secrets people keep, their hidden motives for radical actions and the ‘masks’ they wear to disguise their true natures, much of the time. I loved reading mysteries growing up and when I started writing in my later years, the idea of putting together a murder mystery on the surface of a story with a psychological thriller underneath really appealed to me. I’ve now written ten such books and have sold over half a million copies.

The CRA: Tell us about what you are doing during lockdown/while social distancing?

I’ve just had a book published, so it’s time for a break. I’m so glad the weather is better, because I love gardening, so I’m spending time outside whenever I can. I’ve been reading on the patio, taking photos, doing yoga and meditation and catching up with all those little bits and pieces that tend to fall by the wayside when I’m working on a book.

The CRA: How does the above differ from your usual routine?

Aside from my husband working from home, my lifestyle isn’t very different, to be honest. One up-side of the lockdown is that I’ve had more contact with friends through Skype or Zoom and speak to them more now than I normally would! I think a lot of people are enjoying the tranquility without crowds and thick traffic.

The CRA: Tell us about your most recent/forthcoming book.

Cut You Dead, my latest psychological thriller, came out at the beginning of April. It’s about a serial killer who snips off pieces of women’s hair, then kills them seven days later. Samantha Willerby, the lead character, is a feisty, jump-in-at-the-deep-end kind of psychologist who doesn’t play by the rules. The Met bring Sam in to examine a batch of cold murder cases to see what she can pick up that everyone else has missed. Using every avenue she can think of – and disobeying direct orders on the way – she uncovers a trail of clues that lead her right into the path of the killer.

The CRA: Why will it appeal to lovers of crime fiction?

Cut you Dead has all the hallmarks of a mystery who-dunnit, with plenty of red-herrings, twists and turns. Like most psychological thrillers, there’s a big OMG moment near the end, which seems to have taken virtually all readers by surprise, if the reviews are anything to go by! I’m sure many readers will have come across thrillers where the victim’s hair is cropped off, but in Cut you Dead there’s something different. The hair is not a trophy at the crime scene. To find out exactly what the killer does, you’ll have to read the book!

The CRA: What CWA member writers are you reading during NCRM?

I love Peter James and I’m about to start Dead at First Sight. I recently read William Shaw’s The Birdwatcher and eagerly await Grave’s End which comes out in May.

The CRA: What one thing are you planning to do once lockdown is over?

Get to a garden centre and buy some plants!

You can find out more about AJ Waines and her books here.

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