Aoife is the author of Second Sight published in Australia in July 2018 and the United States in 2019. Her first novel was the bestseller, All These Perfect Strangers.
Second Sight is your latest novel. Can you tell us a bit about the story?
Eliza Carmody is a lawyer working on the biggest case of her career. The only problem is that she’s on the ‘wrong’ side, representing a big corporation believed to be responsible for a bushfire that nearly burnt down her hometown, Kinsale. When she travels back to Kinsale, she is the sole witness to an act of road rage that leaves a young man dead. The unraveling of that incident takes her back into her past and exposes secrets long buried.
Where did the idea for Second Sight come from? Is it inspired by any real-life events?
I knew I wanted to write a really twisty-turny guess-who-dun-it type crime novel but the starting spark for it began one day at my kids’ school gate. Another mum started talking to me about a series of burglaries happening in our neighbourhood and began to display a ‘Nancy Drew’ like side to her character that I hadn’t seen before e.g. thwarting burglaries and solving crimes. I chatted to her about it and it turns out she was a policeman’s daughter and I thought that would be a really interesting protagonist, so I made Eliza one.
As someone who grew up in the country, bushfires were always part of summer life. I have a strong memory from when I was ten of being put with a bunch of kids on a flatbed truck and driving to some fire-fighting volunteers to give them food and damp hessian bags. The heat and smell of that day has always stayed with me. Also, anyone who lived in Melbourne on Black Saturday could never forget what happened. I was interested in exploring the aftermath of such a traumatic event.
You’re primarily a crime writer. What drew you to this genre and what keeps you writing crime?
I think the reason I write crime is the same reason I studied law. It is the intersection of so many interesting questions. What is the truth? Who is to blame? How should they be punished? It is being presented with a knot and trying to turn it back into being a piece of string. Crime fiction is also a genre that asks the reader to participate by being an armchair detective and I love that audience involvement as a writer and a reader.
Beyond Second Sight and your debut novel, All These Perfect Strangers, you’ve written many short stories. Does the change in form, from short story to novel, change the way you write? How so?
That is a great question and I’m not sure I know the answer to that. I wrote short stories for years before I tried to write a novel and it did build up my writing muscles to tackle the challenge of producing something longer. Generally, my sentences tend to be taut and quick and to the point and that’s probably from the forced economy of short stories. I think my short stories are novels in haiku but I’ve never been able to grow one into a novel – I have tried. Some stories are meant to be short.
All These Perfect Strangers received so much positive feedback. How have you dealt with the expectations that a second novel brings?
I try to hold onto the same definition of success that I had when I was writing All These Perfect Strangers when getting published was the dream. As long as this book means I get to publish the next one then that’s success. Anything else is a bonus.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am writing the first draft of my next novel. It is sort of like Agatha Christie for the Netflix Generation. I’m having so much fun.