About the Author:
Lorna Dounaeva is a British blogger and author of mainly psychological thrillers. Her debut novel, FRY, goes on sale on Amazon on 12th March. She is a politics, social psychology and European Studies graduate who worked for the civil service, primarily the Home Office, for a number of years. She lives in Surrey, England with her husband, two children and a quirky sense of humour.
MF: Share a little about Lorna the person and Lorna the writer.
LD: I am a full-time mum to two very active toddlers. I’m also a politics graduate and used to work for the British Home Office before I had the children. I suppose I’m a bit quirky, really. I’m a huge fan of the European Song Contest. I used to collect My Little Ponies and I have a love of the ridiculous. I hope that when I die (not for many years to come, of course) it will be from a ridiculous cause, such as falling into a giant vat of custard. I want people to read about it and laugh.
As a writer, I want to keep people guessing. I like books that keep me in suspense. I don’t like mysteries that are too easy to figure out. But I also like the language to be accessible. I want it to be easy for my readers to follow what I’ve written. I don’t mind the odd big word, but they shouldn’t have to read with a dictionary.
MF: Tell us about FRY.
LD: FRY is about an ordinary supermarket worker called Isabel, who nearly runs down a stranger in her driveway. The stranger, a mysterious woman called Alicia then starts to take over her life. At first, Isabel feels sorry for her and helps her to get a job. But then the caravan park where Alicia is staying burns down and Alicia ends up moving in with Isabel’s close friend and potential love interest, Deacon. Next, a whole spate of fires break out and Isabel begins to suspect that Alicia is behind them. But it’s Isabel the police suspect. As the mystery rapidly unravels, Isabel must question her own innocence, her sanity and the very fabric of her morality, if she is to stay ahead of the fires and the police. Alicia acts like she’s Isabel’s new best friend. But is she really a deadly enemy?
MF: What inspired you to write it?
LD: I am inspired a great deal by films like the Exorcist, Donnie Darko and anything by David Lynch. I also take inspiration from everything I read, from Jane Austin, to Marian Keyes and Sophie Hannah. Inspiration comes from daily life too. I could be peeling the potatoes for dinner when I notice something about the angle of the blade and that will spark off an idea. I often have to abandon what I’m doing because I have an idea I need to write down straight away.
MF: Who designed the cover for FRY?
LD: The cover was commissioned by Designcrowd. They held a competition for me and over 60 designs were entered. The winning cover was designed by artist Jose Ochoa.
MF: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
LD: Marian Keyes because I just love her writing. Her personality really comes shining through. I think I’d have a lot of fun with her.
MF: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
LD: Yes. I was five when I realised I wanted to be a writer. Unfortunately, my handwriting was so bad then that nobody could read the stories I wrote. I barely left any spaces between words and if I made a mistake, I turned it into a picture of a flowerpot!
MF: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
LD: Time is my biggest problem these days. As a full-time mum, I have very little of it. This means I have to either stay up late or get up extra early to get any writing done.
MF: What do you read? What do you re-read?
LD: I mainly read chick-lit, psychological thrillers, historical novels and humour. I also like the rhythm of poetry and love to read and re-read lines like ‘Come friendly bombs and rain on Slough.’
MF: What is your favorite writing tip or quote?
LD: My favourite tip is to set yourself a deadline. If I hadn’t done this, I would never have finished my first novel.
MF: Are you currently working on another novel or writing project?
LD: Yes, my next novel is called May Queen Killers and will be out in May next year. I’m just at the very early stages at the moment, thinking about characters and plot.
MF: Do you have any advice for other writers?
LD: Stop procrastinating and just do it! I always thought I was busy. I never realised how much free time I had until I had the children and suddenly had even less. Because I have so much less time, I don’t have the luxury of procrastinating any more. I love my writing time and I just can’t wait to get my thoughts down on paper.
MF: If you could jump into a book, and live in that world … which would it be?
LD: Definitely not FRY. Too scary! I’d probably choose Alice in Wonderland. That book is surreal!
When Isabel Anderson nearly runs over mysterious Alicia McBride, she is ridden with guilt. She helps Alicia get a job at the supermarket where she works, and soon, Alicia is acting like her new best friend. But then strange fires start to break out all over the small seaside town of Queensbeach, including at the caravan park where Alicia is staying. Isabel suspects Alicia knows more than she’s letting on and grows increasingly nervous when her friend Deacon invites Alicia to stay with him. But it’s Isabel the police suspect.
Determined to confront Alicia, Isabel bursts into her room and sees the word ‘FRY’ branded across her back in capital letters. From then on, she sees the word “FRY’ everywhere she goes: in graffiti, on toilet walls, even on car registration plates. Then her beloved cat, Fluffy, disappears and Isabel is convinced Alicia is behind it. She puts up posters all over her neighbourhood, but as fast as she puts them up, someone takes them down. Soon, a whole spate of fires is breaking out and Isabel must stay one step ahead of the flames and the police. In order to survive, she must question her own innocence, her sanity and the very fabric of her morality. Can she win back Deacon? And will she ever find Fluffy?
FRY is a fast-paced psychological thriller in the tradition of Sophie Hannah and Julia Crouch.