1--What is the title of your latest release?
2--What’s the “elevator pitch” for your new book?
After a woman narrowly survives a massive wildfire, she discovers the body of a stranger in her driveway. The dead woman has her name and address but they’ve never met before. Using the tropes and tricks of a classic thriller, Radiant Heat delves into the epidemic of violence against women in Australia, and the ways grief, place and circumstance inform and shape us all.
3--How did you decide where your book was going to take place?
The setting is a character in this book, so I had a very clear idea of that even before I knew what I was doing in a lot of other respects. Set in a part of Australia that has been devastated by bushfire, but also a region I got to know while working as a journalist in Melbourne, I could never have set it anywhere else.
4--Would you hang out with your protagonist in real life?
5--What are three words that describe your protagonist?
Stubborn, Strong, Self-destructive
6--What’s something you learned while writing this book?
That no matter how much you think you know about your characters, they will still surprise you.
7--Do you edit as you draft or wait until you are totally done?
I do both. I tend to write first drafts that look more like third drafts, a skill I learned working as a newspaper journalist who had to file clean drafts by 7pm each night, but I also do more considered wholesale revisions when I’ve finished. A paper edit is also a big part of my process—print the whole thing and mark it up with a pen!
8--What’s your favorite foodie indulgence?
Right now, a martini and a great steak, sitting at the bar of a New York restaurant. But ask me again in 6 months and it will be something else.
9--Describe your writing space/office!
I live in a railroad apartment, so every room connects to the next one, and there’s a little room in the middle with no windows. That’s where I write when I write at home. I filled a corner with plants, and there’s a Roy Lichtenstein print on the wall above my desk. But I love to write in spaces filled with activity and people, so I do a lot of my writing in dingy Brooklyn bars, nursing a drink and eavesdropping on interesting conversations.
10--Who is an author you admire?
There’s too many! Annie Proulx, Michael Ondaatje, Peter Temple, Chloe Hooper, Charlotte Wood, Hilary Mantel and Jane Austen are all so so wonderful.
11--Is there a book that changed your life?
Just one? Little Women and the other three books in the March series I guess—it’s an obvious answer for a woman writer, probably, but it’s true. And The Shipping News, and In The Skin of the Lion, and Grapes of Wrath, and The Great Gatsby, and For Whom the Bell Tolls, and Brave New World, and Animal Farm and Bring Up the Bodies, and Pride and Prejudice, and Steam Pigs, and Monkey Grip and Tomorrow When the War Began… sorry, I can’t just say one.
12--Tell us about when you got “the call.” (when you found out your book was going to be published)/Or, for indie authors, when you decided to self-publish.
It was March 2022, and I was actually at the office on a rare work-from-the-office day in this post-pandemic world. My agent called with the news, and I immediately called my dad to talk through the offer. It was a surreal day!
13--What’s your favorite genre to read?
I love anything with great women characters and beautiful language. I am not genre-focused when picking new books. I will read pretty much anything, but my comfort reads are Austen and anything in the mystery/thriller realm.
14--What’s your favorite movie?
Childhood: The Princess Bride, Teen: Clueless, Now… No Country for Old Men, Strictly Ballroom, Belfast, Spielberg’s West Side Story, The Departed, LA Confidential, Gosford Park. I’m really not a one movie or cultural thing type of gal.
15--What is your favorite season?
Summer, for sure.
16--How do you like to celebrate your birthday?
Now I live in the Northern hemisphere, at the beach! But anywhere with my friends and some good food and wine will do.
17--What’s a recent tv show/movie/book/podcast you highly recommend?
TV: Deadloch, Movie: Bottoms, Book: Thirst for Salt
18--What’s your favorite type of cuisine?
Italian or Thai
19--What do you do when you have free time?
Swim, hang out with my friends, have too many rounds at the bar
20--What can readers expect from you next?
I’m working on a story about two women trying to carve out safety and power for themselves in this total mess of a world we live in. It’s also about friendship and heartbreak and cold-blooded murder. It’s gonna be fun.
When a catastrophic wildfire suddenly rips through a woman’s hometown, she thinks she is lucky to have survived . . . until she finds a dead woman in her driveway, clutching a piece of paper with her name on it. . . .
The blaze came out of nowhere one summer afternoon, a wall of fire fed by blustering wind. Yet, somehow, Alison is alive. She rode out the fire on the damp tiles of her bathroom, her entire body swaddled in a wet woolen blanket. As flames crackled around her, the bitter char of eucalyptus settled in the back of her throat, each breath more desperate than the last.
The wildfire that devastated the Victoria countryside Alison calls home sets in motion a chain of events that threatens to obliterate the carefully constructed life she is living. When Alison emerges from her sheltering place, she spots a soot-covered cherry red car in her driveway, and in it, a dead woman. Alison has never met Simone Arnold in her life . . . or so she thinks. So what is she doing here?
As Alison searches for answers across Australia’s scorched bushlands, she soon learns that the fire isn’t the only threat she’s facing. . . .
Thriller Psychological | Thriller Serial Killer [Berkley, On Sale: January 23, 2024, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9780593550342 / eISBN: 9780593550359]
Sarah-Jane Collins is a writer, editor, and journalist from Meanjin (Brisbane), Australia, who moved to New York by way of Gadigal land (Sydney), and Naarm (Melbourne). Her work has appeared in the Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, Meanjin, Overland, and others. She has an MFA in fiction from Columbia University. Her fiction has won the Overland Fair Australia Prize and been short-listed for other awards. Although New York is home now, she misses the beaches of Australia, but not the spiders.
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