Monday, 18 July 2016

Cut to the Bone - Alex Caan

I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of Cut to the Bone - a gripping, thrilling tale of the murky world of vlogging. Now, I am an old hand at blogging, but had literally NO IDEA about vlogging so I was intrigued to find out exactly how this story was going to pan out. In short, it was BRILLIANT. Strong characters, brilliant premise, and some cracking little plot twists meant that I devoured this over the course of two days. And THEN I got to have a little chat with extremely talented author, Alex Caan. A pleasure, and a privilege.

"Ruby is a vlogger, a rising star of YouTube and a heroine to millions of teenage girls. And she's missing. She's an adult - nothing to worry about, surely? Until the video's uploaded. Ruby, in the dirt and pleading for her life.

Who better to head up the investigation than the Met's rising star, Detective Inspector Kate Riley? She's leading a shiny new team, high-powered, mostly female and with the best resources money can buy. It's time for them to prove what they can do. Alongside her, Detective Sergeant Zain Harris - poster boy for multiracial policing and the team's newest member - has his own unique contribution to make. But can Kate wholly trust him and when he's around, can she trust herself?
Ruby's millions of fans are hysterical about what may have happened to her. The press is having a field day and as the investigation hurtles out of control in the glare of publicity, it becomes clear that the world of YouTube vloggers and social media is much, much darker than anyone could have imagined in their worst nightmares.
And the videos keep coming . . ."

So Alex, now I've got you here, describe your book deal moment when you knew someone wanted to publish you.

I’m glad I got to answer this, because it was just so cool. My mum’s not been well for a while, and ended up in hospital for months. It was while I was with her in a rehabilitation unit that I got the call from my awesome agent Luigi to say that Bonnier were going to be my publisher. And so I could share it with my mother, and it made her happy seeing how thrilled I was, and it just felt so right. Sorry this all sounds a bit like an X Factor/The Voice sob story, but really it couldn’t have been better! What about you? How did you get to become super successful Lisa Hall Number One Best Selling author?

Oh, that is SO lovely - not at all X Factor! Mine all happened really quickly - within three weeks of sending out my manuscript I had a two-book deal. So quickly in fact, that I'm still waiting for them to knock on the door and tell me it was all a huge mistake! I personally LOVED Cut to the Bone – what has the response been from your family and friends?

Thank you! You really have championed it and me, so for that you will always be an aubergine! (Readers should stalk us on Twitter to find out exactly what that means…and no it’s not rude!!) My family think writing is a ‘hobby’ not a calling, so don’t think they’ll take me seriously unless I’m J K Rowling. So, never basically. My friends have been amazing. None of them have been allowed to read it yet, but they have supported me for decades in my dream to become a proper author, and never let me quit. I hope they still talk to me after they read such a twisted, creepy novel! How did your family react when they read Between You and Me? Did they get really worried??

Aubergines rule! My family and friends were all lovely and dead supportive when they read BYAM...although I did have to reassure my Dad that it's not true life and that Mr H is not really an evil villain. I know one question I have been asked by various people is whether any of my characters are based on real life people. Spill the beans, Alex - are any of your characters based on people you know?

No. But in the next one…Hisa Lall will be ruling the world! Lol. I think my lead characters are all versions of me, so how I would like to be. Ok when people read about how damaged they are they are seriously going to think I’m bonkers! I just mean it’s natural, bits of yourself end up in your novel. I’ve totally stolen names from real people though. And with the vloggers I had to change them about a million times, everytime I thought I’d invented an original vlogger I saw a video on YouTube of someone doing exactly what Ruby et al did! Please tell me Charlie isn’t based on anyone you know?

I can't wait to meet Hisa Lall...I've heard that she is very beautiful and absolutely does not drink too much Prosecco. Hahah nooooo Charlie is not real! But Sal does have certain elements that I have stolen from someone that I DO actually know! People say “write what you know” – I wrote about domestic violence, even though I didn’t have personal experience of it, and needed to do heaps of research. Cut to the Bone ventures into the world of vlogging (which I also know nothing about, I’m not down with the kids) – how much experience do you have of the vlogging community and did you have to go undercover to get the low down on it all? (I am secretly hoping that you did)

Lol yeah in a shady anorak and sunglasses at Videocon! Not really, before I get arrested. Luckily for me the vloggers lives are all available for public consumption, so I just watched videos non-stop. I did a four day stint at the beginning. I started to believe they were my friends, and that they were speaking to me…oh wow I am so getting arrested! Next!! Lol. Seriously though it’s addictive, and you feel like you’re part of their lives. I did do a lot of research about locations, and the science behind what I wrote, so read some really interesting academic papers on the psychology of online personalities and there was research about mineral ore extraction after which I had to lie down in a darkened room somewhere for a week. In my next one there is loads of complex science and my head hurts just thinking about what I learnt. And we discussed this already. We are so down with the kids we are in Australia! What?? Even I don’t know what that means. Oh and I HATE that rule btw. Write what you want to, or what you want to know, or about a life you secretly would want to live. I’m curious now-what research did you do? Was it harrowing? I really want to ask you about the research you did for some of it, but I’m not going to, it will spoil stuff.

Yes, lips are sealed! I did do lots of research and it was very harrowing - it certainly opened my eyes to things that go o around us! Now back to you - who was your favourite character to write? I have to confess to secretly loving writing the baddies – do you prefer the dark side too?

Lol you do baddies so well though!! Seriously compelling to read them! And yes totally. Even my leads, Kate Riley and Zain Harris, have loads of shade about them. I like messed up people, people who live in the crease of normality. Kate’s got some major secrets which are going to blow people’s minds in future books. It’s that Joni Mitchell song ‘Case of You’ about being drawn to people who aren’t afraid of the dark side, even though I am too scared to venture near it.

Ohhhhh, I can't wait to find out about Kate's major secrets...I might need to bully them out of you when I see you! One of my top reads for the year so far has been Tall Oaks by Chris Whitaker (yes, I am STILL going on about it!) What has been your top read so far this year? Which book have you been subtly bullying people into buying? (I know I’m not the only one who does this, so just confess to it now).

Oh man not again. That Whitaker fellow has followed me into too many of my blogs. It’s my blog tour, he didn’t mention me even once! Yes Chris that is a hint!
I can’t pick just one, I’ve read so many novels this year and I don’t want to upset everyone by not picking theirs! I tweet about all the novels I love regularly though, and once I get my sh… into gear I will make sure I review them on Goodreads and on my website…which is erm being developed…very slowly! And not just saying this, but Between You and Me is one of them. Seriously I can’t love your novel enough! I couldn’t put it down and had to read it again when I finished! And I’m not alone because not only are you a NUMBER ONE superstar you are also one of the top selling books on Amazon this year!!

Oh shucks...hahaha, thank you so much - it's always a bit thrilling when an author whose book you've loved likes yours back! (I'm talking you liking mine, not blowing my own trumpet here haha) Finally – what writing advice would you give to new and aspiring writers? Personally, my favourite bit of writing advice has been get your face out there and known…and never run out of teabags.

Lol!! Teabags!! How random!! You make me laugh soooo much! I would say write what you want to write, not what you think you should or what someone told you to or what you think might sell. I like your advice, and it is important. I have to say the crime writing community has been so brilliant, really supportive and encouraging. The Twenty7 authors have been like a rock, seriously couldn’t have done this without them and they all write blazing books! I really wish I could name all the fantastic people I’ve met, but it would take ages. I tweet my love regularly though so they know who they are! Especially that Lisa Hall, who is an aubergine!! (Again-not rude!!)

Thank you Alex, for what has probably been the most brilliant interview I've ever had the joy of doing...Cut To The Bone is a bloody marvellous read! Folks, I really don't want you to miss out on what promises to be one of the most exciting thrillers this year....

Cut to the Bone is out now and you can get it here:

**My thanks to the gorgeous peeps at Bonnier for my ARC**

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