Hello hello and welcome or welcome back to my little bookish corner of the internet. For my first interview of the year, I’m sharing my talk with Cynthia Murphy, author of Last One To Die, and Win Lose Kill Die, which releases this week. A big thanks to Cynthia for her time!
Hi Cynthia, and thanks for joining me today. Last One To Die stormed the YA thriller charts this time last year, and now we’re only days away from the release of your second book, Win Lose Kill Die. How does it feel seeing your name on a shelf twice over?
Like a dream! I only signed with my agent in November 2019 and got the deal for Last One to Die in January 2020. The fact that in those two years, I have released two books and had the first one translated into French and Polish, seems crazy. The books look gorgeous together and the thought of seeing them on shelves has really helped keep me together during this pandemic.
Young adult thrillers are a growing genre, and it’s great seeing more of them on the shelves. Are they something you reach for yourself when it comes to reading?
Yes, I love them. I really enjoy the fast pace and the often messy lives of the teenagers in these books. It’s a good reminder that not everyone has it as ‘together’ as you might think they do – even in fiction! I love books by Karen McManus, Andreina Cordani, Kat Ellis, Georgia Bowers, Amy McCaw…the list goes on! All fab thrillers with an edge of horror.
Where do you tend to take your inspiration from? Do you have books, music or films you turn to regularly?
I take inspiration from everywhere! Pre-pandemic, I loved to travel and visiting different environments is so inspiring. I love museums, art galleries, old buildings, anything a little bit different from the norm. I also adore 90s tv and film and often find myself going back to favourites like Scream. Podcasts are fab, too – I really enjoy being told a true crime or paranormal story, because they often spark an idea or make me research further into a topic. I don’t listen to much music, but I think Taylor Swift is a wonderful storyteller and I listed to her albums on repeat for both books, Reputation in particular.
What was the biggest difference between working on your first novel and working on your second?
Time! Last One to Die was polished by the time an editor saw it and required very little in the way of editing in comparison to book two. I was a full-time teacher last year and between the excitement of book one being launched and working, sometimes in school and sometimes online, the second book didn’t really get going until the end of January. It has been intense and I was quite ambitious this time in terms of plot, so it needed a lot of fine tuning. Luckily Scholastic have fabulous editors who know just how to whip something into shape!
Is writing something you’ve had a passion for forever, or has it grown on you over time?
I’ve always loved it; I just never knew it was a real job people did. The earliest piece of ‘good’ writing was what would now be termed as Point Horror fanfic when I was ten or eleven (based on The Cheerleader for those in the know). The teacher photocopied it and gave it to visiting student teachers to read. I was so proud and have never forgotten that – thanks Mr Stevens, if you ever read this!
Where do you do most of your writing? Is it something you normally do at home, or are cafes an essential?
I am an at-home-write-in-silence kind of girl. For book one, it was mostly written while travelling, so I listened to some modern classical music by Chad Lawson – his music is so gorgeously spooky, it was perfect. Book two was mostly written on the spare bed. The dog would sit on the windowsill and we’d have a nap after each chapter. For the next one, I should have a home office, which I’m working on at the moment. I have never been able to write in public, I’m too anxious and nosy to get anything done!
Do you have another project in the works at the moment?
Yes, but I can’t talk about it yet! It involves social media, ritual games and Creepy Pasta…it’s going to be a lot of fun.
Finally, how would you sum up Win Lose Kill Die in three words?
Ambitious dark academia.
Another big thank you to Cynthia for her time. Last One To Die is out now, and Win Lose Kill Die is avalible to pre-order for its release later this week. You don’t want to miss out on these!