Girl Missing, the first book about Madison and Lauren, was published in 2006. When you wrote it, did you know that it would be the first in a trilogy?
No, I had no idea! I thought Girl, Missing would be a standalone novel. It was years before I had the idea for Sister, Missing and Missing Me.
In Missing Me, Madison is now a teenager, and very much the central character, driving the plot. What was it like to write about a character you first introduced as a child, and who has grown up in the course of the books.
It was fun. In fact, one of the reasons I wanted to write Missing Me was to show how Madison develops from the sweet, shy little girl of the first two books into the troubled teen who narrates the third
Your books are hugely popular with young readers. You meet many of them in the school visits you do. Do you feel this adds pressure?
Meeting readers on school visits is one of the great perks of my job as an author. I do feel a big responsibility to make each book I write as good as I can, because I don’t want to let down anyone who has read and enjoyed my other stories. However, knowing that people are reading what I’ve written gives me lots of encouragement to carry on writing. This validation completely offsets the pressure that comes with expectation.
You often write about issues of identity in your novels. Why do you think you are drawn to this theme?
I don’t really know, but I think many people wonder at some point about who they are and how they fit into their world. Perhaps teenagers are particularly drawn to stories about identity because they are no longer children, yet often not quite sure how to be adults.
Your books are superb page-turners. How hard do you work to make them unputdownable, and how important is that to your audience?
Thank you! From the feedback I get, I suspect that many readers are keen to be gripped by a story from the first page on. I certainly am. I try very hard to make my plots as twisty and turn-y as possible. When I’m writing, I aim to make everything that happens unexpected, yet convincing, to keep the story moving and to cut anything self-indulgent.
You write romances and thrillers. What do you find most satisfying about writing in these genres? Do you find either easier?
I enjoy working in both genres (though I don’t really think in terms of genre when I write). Thrillers are harder in one sense, because the plots tend to be more complicated. But I love writing both, just as I love reading and films in both genres.