JAMES HANKINS: THE PRETTIEST ONE HAS AN INTRICATE PLOT
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
The new thriller by James Hankins The Prettiest One is set for official release on October 1. The novel became part of Kindle First program and already is receiving a lot of positive feedback. “A Must read”, “What a thrilling page-turner”, “Edge of the seat Thriller,” are few of the readers’ opinions. Since the start of September the book is among Top 3 Kindle bestsellers.
We are proud to welcome at Land of Books bestselling writer James Hankins.
– What is your next release The Prettiest One about?
– THE PRETTIEST ONE is about a woman who finds herself in a deserted parking lot in the dead of night. She’s got blood on her clothes. She’s holding a bag containing a gun and half a dozen prosthetic hands. And she has no idea how she got there…or, in fact, any memory of the past seven months. She is desperate to discover the truth about what happened to her but terrified of what she may find.
– How did you decide to write the story?
– I was doing general psychological research and stumbled on an article about a rare but—to me, at least—fascinating form of amnesia called a dissociative fugue (the name changes now and then in the various editions of the DSM). A dissociative fugue is a very specific kind of amnesia in which a person loses memory of herself and will actually travel to a different place and often create an entirely new identity there. And when her memories of her former life return (after hours, days, months, or even years), she typically remembers none of the time spent in the fugue state. She remembers her former life but totally forgets the newer one. To me, the story possibilities seemed nearly endless.
– What was the biggest challenge during the write up process?
– The plot is intricate and there were a lot of puzzle pieces from the past to layer in throughout the story, so making sure I revealed the proper information at the proper time took some planning. It was a bit trickier than other mysteries I’ve written. But though the plot is intricate, I wanted it to be easy to follow (while keeping it entertaining and fast-paced). I think I got it about right.
– Tell us something more about your main character Caitlin? Is she close to someone from your real life?
– Caitlin is completely fictitious. She’s someone who is lost at the beginning of the book, both literally and figuratively, because she doesn’t know where she is or, more importantly, what happened to her during her missing seven months. The story becomes not only an investigation to discover what happened to her during that time, but also a more personal journey for Caitlin as she learns about herself—about her past but also about the kind of person she believes she should be going forward.
– How much time did you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– I spent four months plotting and researching, then about 5 months on the first draft. I went through a few revisions before submitting a draft to my publisher, Thomas & Mercer. Then it was out of my hands for a little while as my publishing team starting thinking about it. Then the formal editing began, from developmental editing to copy editing to proofreading. And while that was taking place the cover and interior look of the book were designed, and the promotional text was drafted. From the time I conceived of the story, it was over a year before it was ready for publication.
– Did you expect the success of Brothers and Bones?
– Well, you always hope for success but I was honestly surprised that my first books sold as well as they did, particularly BROTHERS AND BONES. I was very fortunate to have received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews for BROTHERS, and Kirkus later named the book to its list of Best Books of 2013. I’m certain that the review helped people find the book who might otherwise have discovered it (and after that, I like to think that the story resonated enough with readers so that people wanted to keep buying it).
– Drawn, Jack of Spades and Shady Cross became Amazon bestsellers. If you may compare each of the three novels to a feeling what it will be?
– Interesting question. Never heard one like it before. Hmmm. I supposed DRAWN would be the feeling of not wanting to be lonely any longer. JACK OF SPADES could be fear. And SHADY CROSS might be the feeling of knowing you need to do the right thing no matter how painful that might be.
– Who are you?
– I’m a family man first (a father and husband and working hard to be good at both). Next, I’m a storyteller. And like all writers I’m a voracious reader. But I don’t just love books—I love stories of all kinds (in songs and poems, in movies and on TV). I’m also a fairly mediocre musician but I love to play.
– What are your writing habits?
– As soon as the kids are off to school, I start my job as a writer (unless there are things that need to be done around the house, in which case I attend to those things for an hour or so before I start writing). I work until it’s time to pick my sons up from school. Sometimes I write some more in the late afternoon, if they are engaged with other things or with friends. Sometimes I write at night after everyone is asleep. Speaking more specifically, I work from a loose outline rather than fly by the seat of my pants. And I always know the beginning and the end before I start writing, though I could end up changing either later on.
– Are you satisfied by the sales of your books?
– I doubt there has ever lived an author who didn’t want to sell more books. That said, I’m pleased with my sales so far. I have been lucky enough to find new readers with each book. I do hope that my readership continues to grow (and if it grows quickly, all the better!).
– What are you doing to promote your book by the best possible way?
– My publisher does the heavy lifting with respect to promoting my books but like all authors I have to do what I can to help. For example, I recently participated in the filming of a few promotional pieces for Kindle Most Wanted, Amazon’s online community for fans of crime fiction. I also tweet a little, post a little on Facebook, appear at a library now and then, and answer emails from readers kind enough to write to me with thoughts or questions about my books.
– When we will see your next novel and would you unveil something more about it?
– The next book is still in the early phases—too early to share about it. Sorry!
– What is the difference between plotting a story for a script and doing the same thing for a novel?
– There are many differences between writing scripts and writing novels, but focusing specifically on plotting, I would say that the biggest difference is that novels tend to be more complex. Typically, films are between 90 and 120 minutes, give or take a few minutes. Exceptions abound, of course, but for a variety of reasons most movies are two hours in length or less. A screenwriter is therefore limited in how much story she can fit into a screenplay. A novelist is less limited with respect to the length of a book. Fiction genres have their page-length conventions, of course, and publishers have their expectations along those lines, but I think publishers are probably a little less likely to frown on a longer book than a movie studio is on longer film. So screenplays need to be leaner than novels, with fewer subplots and secondary characters, and probably even fewer twists.
– If you may ask yourself one question in the interview what it will be?
– My question to myself would be, “Is there anything you’d like to add?” And my answer would be that I would like to say how grateful I am to my readers, friends, and reader-friend hybrids. People who read my books and who like them enough to want to spread the word about them to others—by telling their friends and families about them, and leaving reader reviews on bookseller’s sites, and tweeting and posting and sharing/commenting on my posts. People who take the time to email me just to let me know how much they enjoy my work. These people make it possible for me to do what I love to do and I’m very grateful to them.