|photo: Alice Feeney|
Alice Feeney is a journalist and writer who worked at the BBC as a reporter, editor and producer. After living in London and in Sydney, Australia, she now resides in the Surrey countryside. Sometimes I Lie is her debut novel.
Talk us through your transition from BBC reporter to published novelist.
As a child, I used to sit in the back of my parents' shop scribbling mini books onto folded pieces of paper. I worked for the BBC for 16 years and I loved my job, but my secret dream was always to be an author. It was such a secret that most people I worked with had no idea I was busy writing Sometimes I Lie on the train to work and during my lunch breaks. The press release about my book deal was a big surprise for a lot of people! I work in my garden shed now with my cowriter, a giant black Labrador who is scared of feathers.
When did you decide to start writing novels?
I started my first novel the year I turned 30 and it feels like I've been scribbling in my spare time ever since. I've tried and failed a few times. I have my fair share of rejection letters, but each time I just picked myself up and tried again. It's what you have to do. I think you have to follow your dreams, no matter how scared you are of failing. Your dreams always know the way.
Did you attend the Faber Academy writing course before or after this decision?
I already had the idea for Sometimes I Lie and wanted to write the best book I could and give myself--and the novel--the best possible chance. In many ways, it felt like my last chance, so I worked even harder than before and it meant everything to me. I applied for a place on the course and got myself a 0% credit card to pay for it. I completed Sometimes I Lie just before I graduated and was approached by 15 literary agents, so all that hard work was worth it!
What was it like hearing it was sold at auction?
It was amazing and I'll never forget that moment! I was at work when I got the call, sitting next to one of the BBC's main news anchors (Huw Edwards), and I had to act like everything was normal when my whole life had just changed! I'm very lucky to have the best agent in the known universe (Jonny Geller), and I was completely overwhelmed and very flattered by the response to my book.
At what point did you quit your BBC job?
I was 21 when I started working in the newsroom and my colleagues were like a surrogate family, albeit a slightly dysfunctional one, so quitting wasn't an easy decision. I talked about leaving with my agent after the U.K. deal, and a few days later, when the book had gone to auction in the U.S. and Germany, I decided to take the leap.
What made you want to write crime fiction?
I think the best piece of advice I've ever been given as a writer is to write the book you want to read. I read a lot of books, all genres, but my favorites tend to be rather dark and twisty. I don't think psychological thrillers are new; I'd argue that Agatha Christie wrote one or two, and my favorite author is Gillian Flynn. As a child, I was obsessed with Stephen King novels, and that might also have influenced the way I write now.
What was your biggest surprise after publication? When did you feel you'd made it?
I don't really feel like I've made it yet. I’m not sure I'll ever feel that way. For me, it is just about trying to write the best books that I can for those kind enough to read them. Writers are nothing without readers and I'm so grateful to each and every one.
I live in a very old Victorian house full of books and it is in constant need of repair, but I love every brick and it's the only house that has ever felt like home. I always hated the kitchen tiles, but never seemed to be able to afford to do anything about them. Other things, like a new roof when the rain started coming in, were more important. So, my big treat to myself when I got a publishing deal was new kitchen tiles! I love cooking, and every time I see my new tiles, I remember that my stories paid for them and it makes me very happy.
Legendary Entertainment bought the TV rights to Sometimes I Lie. Without spoiling anything, what are some elements you will insist on remaining unchanged in the screen adaptation?
Legendary has made some of my favorite films, including Inception, Interstellar and The Dark Knight. I was beyond thrilled when I found out they wanted to buy the rights to Sometimes I Lie. I'm a consultant on the TV series, and it is lovely to be involved, but I trust the Legendary team to do what they do best. I can't say too much about it at the moment, but I'm really excited about everything they have planned and I can't wait to see Amber brought to life onscreen.
Is your next book, Sometimes I Kill, connected in any way to Lie or is it a standalone?
Sometimes I Kill is a brand-new story. I've just finished reading the latest draft and I'm super excited about it. It's dark and twisty, there are parts that genuinely surprised, shocked and scared me and I hope people will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Amber, the main character in Sometimes I Lie, starts the book with three statements about herself. Using that same template, what would your confessions be?
My name is Alice Feeney. There are three things you should know about me:
- I write dark and twisty novels.
- I also love to cook.
- Sometimes I bake.