I’m more than a tad excited to be hosting the Dead Woman Walking Blog Tour today with a Q&A with Sharon Bolton herself! I read Dead Woman Walking myself a few weeks ago and was absolutely blown away by this gripping, clever, shocking and twisty thriller, and am delighted to ask Sharon some questions on her latest novel!
Sharon (formerly SJ) Bolton grew up in a cotton-mill town in Lancashire and had an eclectic early career which she is now rather embarrassed about. She gave it all up to become a mother and a writer.
Her first novel, Sacrifice, was voted Best New Read by Amazon.uk, whilst her second, Awakening, won the 2010 Mary Higgins Clark award. In 2014, Lost, (UK title, Like This, For Ever) was named RT Magazine’s Best Contemporary Thriller in the US, and in France, Now You See Me won the Plume de Bronze. That same year, Sharon was awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library, for her entire body of work.
Hello Sharon, and welcome to Cosy Books. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m an accomplished tap dancer, I’ve white-water rafted the Zambezi, been chased by an elephant
on horseback, am scared of butterflies and my favourite film is Terminator 2.
Dead Woman Walking is your latest novel, could you tell us what it’s about in your own
Twelve passengers and a pilot, drifting in a hot air balloon over the Northumberland
National Park one morning, see a murder being committed on the ground. Determined to
allow no witnesses to live, the killer causes the balloon to crash, killing everyone on board,
apart from one woman who immediately goes on the run. And then things really go
The book is set in Northumbria – (a place close to me and one of the most stunning places in
my opinion!) what appealed about this setting?
Dead Woman Walking is essentially a chase story, a run and hide story, and for that to work I needed the most remote, least populated region of England. That could only be Northumberland.
There are some difficult and controversial themes covered in the book. Can you tell us about
some of the research you undertook when writing Dead Woman Walking.
I got lost in the Northumberland National Park, was almost stranded on Holy Island by a rapidly returning tide and had to wade through flood waters in York, but you didn’t mean that did you? Most
of my books involve my reading real life horror stories at some point, and this one was no
exception. It also threw up a pretty crucial question that we could all usefully ask ourselves :
how far would we go to save the life of someone we loved? (Difficult to say more without
giving away too much of the plot.)
Dead Woman Walking is filled with unexpected twists … how on earth do you keep up with
them all when you are writing?
Well, some of them take me by surprise! I just thank heaven for word processing and the ability to write as many drafts as I need to make sure the twist works perfectly and that all the clues are laid in the right places. Twists are very popular at the moment, but I don’t think thrillers necessarily need them. What crime readers love, in my experience, are the surprises. These are smaller than twists, more subtle, but immensely satisfying.
Most writers are readers first….is this the case for yourself? Which authors and novels would
you recommend as must reads?
My two great literary influences growing up were Charlotte Bronte and Stephen King, so they’d always be my first recommendations. After that, for crime writers, I’d say The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris, the most completely perfect thriller ever written, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, a crime novel from the pen of a genius, and Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, a masterclass in nastiness.
As a non-writer, I’m always fascinated by the writing process…can you tell us about where
you write and any rituals or routines you have to aid the creative process?
My house has a hanging gallery, a mezzanine floor that is neither entirely up nor downstairs. It feels like the heart of the house to me and it is here that I work. There are no windows, which is a good
thing, because I’d find a view endlessly distracting. I have no real rituals, but if I’m stuck, I
find movement, such as walking the dog, or driving to do a school pick up, will often get the
Finally, what are you working on next?
I hope my next novel will be the start of a loosely linked trilogy, running over split time lines, in the 1960s and 1990s, and set in the area around Pendle Hill in Lancashire where I grew up. The first book, out in April 2018, is called The Craftsman.
Thank you, Sharon, for taking the time to answer my questions.
Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton Published April 20th April 2017 by Transworld
A cold nugget in her heart told her that she hadn’t escaped after all, that five, ten, twenty years weren’t enough, that there was no escape and that the day would come when he would find her.
Just before dawn in the hills near the Scottish border, a young woman is brutally murdered. At the same time, a hot-air balloon crashes out of the sky. There’s just one survivor.
She’s seen the killer’s face – and he’s seen hers. Now he won’t rest until he’s eliminated the only witness to his crime.
Alone, scared, trusting no one, she goes on the run. But the biggest danger of all could be where she least expects to find it.