Q&A with JP Delaney
Welcome everyone to another fantastic psychological-thriller fiction Q&A here on Always Trust In Books. The Girl Before was a huge success last year and a lot of readers have Believe Me on their calendars. I was giving the excellent opportunity to ask JP Delaney some questions about Believe Me (which is released today!) and JP really got involved with the Q&A. The answers are interesting, revealing and insightful which makes for a great interview. Enjoy the questions, pick up a copy of Believe Me and show your support for JP Delaney in the comments.
24.07.2018 / Quercus Books / Psychological Thriller / Hardback / 400pp / 978-1787472419
About JP Delaney
BELIEVE ME is the second psychological thriller from JP Delaney, a pseudonym for a writer who has previously written bestselling fiction under other names. JP Delaney’s first thriller THE GIRL BEFORE became a global bestseller published in forty-one countries. A film version is being brought to the screen by Academy Award winners Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment.
About Believe Me
Trust me. Love me. Just don’t believe me…
Claire Wright likes to play other people.
A British drama student, in New York without a green card, Claire takes the only job she can get: working for a firm of divorce lawyers, posing as an easy pick-up in hotel bars to entrap straying husbands.
When one of her targets becomes the subject of a murder investigation, the police ask Claire to use her acting skills to help lure their suspect into a confession. But right from the start, she has doubts about the part she’s being asked to play. Is Patrick Fogler really a killer . . . Or the only decent husband she’s ever met? And is there more to this set-up than she’s being told?
And that’s when Claire realises she’s playing the deadliest role of her life…
Thank you J. P. Delaney for taking some time to answer a few questions about your brilliant new novel Believe Me. Could you give us your own personal overview of what we should expect in within your new book?
Well, the title is a big clue – my hope is to take the reader on a pacey, twisty read where they never quite know what or who to believe. Just when they think they’ve figured it out, another version of the truth surfaces – or is it just an illusion? My lead character is an actress who is herself playing a character – I enjoyed playing with the ambiguities of that.
What was the initial inspiration for Believe Me?
It’s partly based on true events – specifically, an undercover operation in the UK in the 1990s, codenamed Operation Edzell, in which the police, guided by a forensic psychologist, attempted to lure a suspected serial killer into a confession by using an attractive female decoy as bait. I changed many things about the operation – moving it to New York, for example, and making the decoy a drama student rather than an undercover policewoman. But while in reality the main suspect was a bit of an oddball, I wanted my suspect to be someone the reader could credibly believe was intelligent enough to be fooling everyone. So I decided to make him a translator – and specifically, a translator of Les Fleurs du Mal, Charles Baudelaire’s nineteenth-century hymn to perversion and depravity.
Can you give us a few details about the characteristics/type of the psychological thrills you explore in Believe Me?
On the face of it, it’s a simple crime mystery. A woman is found dead in a hotel room. She was planning to leave her husband. Some money is missing, too… but the manner of her death suggests a sexual motive. The main suspect is the woman’s husband. But pretty soon we’re immersed in a cat-and-mouse game, a battle of wits and seductions between the suspect and the actress employed to entrap him into a confession. And when she starts to wonder whether the police haven’t in fact focused on an innocent man, the reader starts to wonder: is she right? Or is she just getting too immersed in her own part?
Is there a particular character or element in Believe Me that you especially enjoyed writing about?
I’ve always loved working with actors. There’s a great line by Sanford Meisner: “Acting isn’t Lying. Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances.” That blurring of reality and illusion is a gift to a thriller writer.
What sort of challenges did you face when writing a story about a woman stuck between two versions of herself?
I wanted to play with the possibilities and ambiguities of writing about a committed actor who forces themselves to believe what their character believes. But you have to be in control of your narrative, or it quickly all just becomes make-believe. I had to think very carefully about what the reader is thinking at any one point, if that makes sense.
Had you always wanted to become a thriller author/writer?
Yes, it was always thrillers that I read as a teenager, and I think that first love of the genre never goes away. But I like to write in other genres too.
Are there any authors that you look up to as a writer that has helped shape your work?
Many. To take just a few: the incomparable John Le Carré, for world-building and ambiguity. Dick Francis, for pace and momentum. Lee Child, for giving Reacher a moral compass. Daphne du Maurier, for her brilliant exposes of sexual obsession.
How long did it take you to plan and write Believe Me compared to A Girl Before?
The Girl Before had a gestation of about 15 years – and funnily enough, so did Believe Me. I first had the idea all that time ago, but originally wrote it in a very different way, with standard third-person narration and a more police-procedural plot. The impetus to rewrite it in the first person came to me about eighteen months ago.
Can you tell us in five words what writing means to you?
No! Five words is too few. I guess the closest I can get to it is: It’s what I do.
Did you take the time to celebrate the conclusion of writing your books and their releases?
Not in any major way. I might open a nice bottle of wine. But there’s always a part of me that’s sad when I finish a draft. I miss being with my characters.
Have you got a hobby/activity you do to wind down from all the work and writing?
Drinking too much.
Finally, have you read a book/article recently that you would personally recommend to the readers of this post?
I’ve just finished The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins, a terrific literary psychological thriller.
Thank you to JP Delaney for taking part in this Q&A and congratulations of the release of your exciting new psychological thriller Believe Me. I cannot wait to get into this novel as I am trying to get back into psychological thrillers as much as I can. The Girl Before was such a huge success in everyone’s eyes and I hope Believe Me gets the same reception. I hope you enjoy the Q&A and make sure to pick up a copy of Believe Me today! Thank you as always for your support and appreciation for every author who graces the halls of ATIB.