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Jacqui L'Ange

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Michele Rowe’s ‘What Hidden Lies’ is The Next Big Thing


This ‘Next Big Thing’ guest post is by by the über-talented  Michele Rowe, who talks about her first novel…I love how this is becoming a regular feature on my BookSA blog page. More tags and previews at the end of this post.


Here’s Michele:


What is your working title of your book?

What Hidden Lies

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I heard an unsubstantiated rumour, and took to pondering how a moment of maliciousness could ruin someone’s life and even lead to murder.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s about a murder and investigation so it would be classified under crime fiction. I prefer to call it a mystery novel.


Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

What Hidden Lies is the first of a trilogy. I am finishing the second book for Penguin titled Hour of Darkness about a mother and daughter who disappear when the lights go out during Earth Hour. The third book centres around a teenage suicide pact and is called Before Her Time. All three books have individual stand alone investigations, linked by an overarching single narrative concerning the young detective Persy Jonas. The structure lends itself to a tv series rather than a movie. When I think of a cast I naturally imagine drawing from the extraordinary talent working in film and theatre in this country. But it would be up to the director to decide on the cast.


What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A detective hunts down her childhood sweetheart who she suspects of murder.


Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I am represented by a U.K based literary agent, and the book will be published by Penguin on June 3rd this year. I have also signed the rights to a German publisher.


How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’d really prefer not to answer that! Some writers can get out a draft in 6 weeks but I find writing a laborious and time consuming process.


What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I can’t think of a similar book offhand. Only a small percentage of what I read is crime fiction.  I like classic American noir writers like Cornell Woolrich and Jim Thompson, and enjoy South African crime fiction because it’s new and fresh and there’s an energy to it. The Scottish crime writers are always interesting. I read everything put out by the grande dames of female mystery, writers like Ruth Rendell and PD. James. Their output is astonishing, both still writing strongly into late age, and they have a great sense of plot and social milieu. But Patricia Highsmith is the mystery and suspense writer I most admire. That does not answer the question except to say that perhaps these writers influence how I approach the genre.


Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Noordhoek inspired me. And a series of interviews I conducted with detectives and a criminal psychologist when researching a television  documentary.


What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Maybe because I am a screenwriter, What Hidden Lies has interlinking narratives and characters similar in structure to a tv series. It’s as much a study of a place and milieu as a crime novel, although I hope it also delivers on the expectations of the genre. The book has been well received by publishers and agents and recognised by a Dagger Award, but the acid test will be how readers receive it. I recently joined a couple of book clubs for the first time. It was horribly sobering to hear books being casually savaged in someone’s sitting room, and imagining mine suffering the same fate.  Crime readers are unforgiving because they know all the tricks. There’s very little new in the genre, so it’s all in the telling.


Michele is passing the baton on to Richard Beynon, Joanne Hichens and Melissa Madore.  Jump to their pages to see their Next Big Thing posts in about a week’s time. And come back here to read Anne Rogers’ post in a few days…


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