I love Hampstead.
I love crime fiction.
If one were to combine the two, I'd present to them my heart on a platter constructed from bark from the Heath.
This is exactly what Aga Lesiewicz offers with her 2016 psychological thriller Rebound. The novels protagonist Anna Wright is enticed by a stranger whilst out jogging on Parliament Hill, and quickly becomes entangled in a dark and gripping tale of sex, deceit, and danger.
What's not to love?
So hooked as I was by Rebound, I was thrilled to discover that Lesiewicz's second novel Exposure will be published by Pan Macmillan on 23rd February 2017. Lesiewicz explains it as a "psychological thriller set in London. It’s about a photographer, whose ‘sorted-out’ life begins to fall apart when she starts to receive anonymous emails with attachments that suggest the sender has an intimate knowledge of her past and is hell-bent on trying to destroy her future.
"Someone is literally attempting to steal her life. Will she be able to discover the sender’s identity and motives before it’s too late?"
To whet my appetite for what appears to be a heart-racing story of mystery and unease, I decided to catch up with Aga to find out exactly what inspires her writing.
Five things in life that inspire my writing:
Books. I find them tremendously inspiring. There’s nothing more satisfying than a well-written novel – it makes you want to pick up a pen, or rush to your computer instantly. I always feel a mixture of awe and envy when I come across a novel I really like.
Stories. I mean real-life stories. This is where all fiction stems from.
People. There are no stories without people. And every person carries a good story within them, even if they don’t realise it.
Places. Places can be really inspiring – they can dictate a whole narrative. Hampstead Heath is a good example – it’s a magical place that prompted me to write Rebound.
Questions. When I plot a novel, I start with a question. ‘What would happen if?’ is a really good kick-off point. The most daring questions produce the most compelling scenarios.
Five books that have inspired me:
1. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
It’s an extraordinary tour-de-force of a novel, part fantastical mystery, part psychological thriller, and part a riveting piece of historical fiction. It’s one of those books that can’t be fully explained: it has to be experienced. The Chronicle stays with you for the rest of your life.
2. Restless by William Boyd
A beautifully written espionage thriller with a strong female protagonist. It’s gripping, sensuous, intelligent and very, very dark. I wish I could write like this!
3. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Based on a historical event – a hijacking of the Japanese embassy in Lima – it’s a story of life under siege that’s moving, romantic, filled with tension, and totally addictive. An elegant and electrifying read.
4. A Place of Execution by Val McDermid
This is the book that filled me with awe and made me want to become a crime writer. A true masterpiece from the Queen of British Crime Fiction.
5. A Suspension of Mercy by Patricia Highsmith
This is the ultimate psychological thriller by a writer who created her very own genre of crime fiction. I love all her books, but this one is particularly inspiring – it’s a thriller about a thriller writer, who falls into a trap of his own making, by creating a homicidal narrative he can’t get out of. I could read this book over and over again, each time learning something new from it.
Exposure will be available for purchase both in book stores and online from 23rd February. You can find out more about it on the Pan Macmillan website here and on Aga Lesiewicz's website here.