Mystery Thriller Week continues with an interview with Anna Willett, author of Retribution Ridge ~ a brutal yet touching thriller
Retribution Ridge is full of action and suspense. Tell us what your inspiration was to write in this genre.
I’ve always been drawn to darker stories both in books and on films. So it feels natural for me to write stories that examine the darker side of human nature and behaviour.
Writing thrillers gives me the opportunity to write about characters that who are battling the more sinister aspects of human behavior. Sometimes the battle is going on inside a character as well as around them. I write stories that I’d be interested in reading – as a reader I want to be caught up in the drama. To experience thinking and behaviour that’s alien to me. I want stories that thrill and disturb me so that’s what I try to write.
Retribution Ridge takes place on a hiking trip in the wilderness. Are you a hiker? A lover of the wilderness?
I spend a great deal of time hiking in the bush. There’s something compelling about the wilderness, it’s beautiful and scary at the same time. As well as a source of inspiration, the isolation is conducive to the uninterrupted thinking process necessary to develop a story.
Describe Retribution Ridge series in 140 characters (also known as a tweet).
Retribution Ridge is a stand-alone novel. If I had to describe it in 140 characters, I’d probably say: Unrelenting action and chills. A Brutal yet touching thriller.
What’s the most amusing thing that happened to you while writing or researching Retribution Ridge series?
We (my husband and I) were walking in the bush at dusk. I like to take photos and make notes, really get the feel for the area I’m writing about. So I’m thinking about a terrifying chase through the wilderness. What would my main character do? How would she survive? And out of nowhere springs a male kangaroo. He had to be nearly seven feet tall and all muscle. I’ve seen plenty of roos in the bush, but there was something very menacing about this one – nothing like Skippy. My reaction was far from the courageous female character in my books. I picked up a stick and then ran in the other direction.
Some claim that the thriller genre is dominated by men. Has being a woman in a male dominated genre effected your writing or marketing of your writing?
A good thriller transcends gender, at least it does for me. I write about situations and people as I see them sometimes that means dealing with grim or brutal circumstances. I write from a female perspective of course, but it’s still no holds barred. My novels often involve strong female characters which I suppose has to effect the marketing. While the genre might be male dominated, women are taking the lead in many ways. Look at writers like Agatha Christie, Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) and Karin Slaughter. Some of the best crime, mystery/thriller writers of all time are women so the genre is certainly not a boys club.
Plotter or Pantser? Explain.
I’m not a plotter, I don’t write a full outline before I begin. I know the setting and what I want to happen. I know my main characters. From there, I let the characters lead me because as they develop, so does the story. Once I’m a few chapters in, I’ll make some notes about what I want to happen in each of the subsequent chapters. It’s usually just one or two lines but it helps me keep up the momentum and drive the story forward. I leave most of the research and fill in the blanks when the novel’s finished, otherwise I become too side tracked. If, for example I want to write about a certain type of car, I’ll just highlight the word car and leave the rest for later. When I first started writing, I’d stop and go online trying to find information. Sometimes an hour would go by. I realised that the details can wait, getting the story out is the most important thing for me.
How do you react to a bad review of your book?
Bad reviews are a fact of life. It’s impossible to please everyone so it’s not surprising when someone gives a bad review. An unfair review is harder to take. But it’s just one of those things that makes being a writer so interesting. I don’t dwell on the negatives, I just feel grateful that someone cared enough about my work to leave a review.
What are the most important attributes for remaining sane as a writer?
Don’t force it. I try to set goals in terms of word count, but if I need a day off for whatever reason, I take it. I love writing, and so I protect that feeling by not letting the work become a chore. Some people say a writer must write every day. If that’s what works for them, then by all means do it. Having an artistic outlet keeps me sane. I’m very fortunate to be able to do something I enjoy, but if I had to force myself to produce, even when life gets in the way, what would be the point?
Tell us about your next release. And when can we expect it?
I’m working on a couple things at the moment; both thrillers. One is about two women who meet and after a seemingly unimportant encounter, one of them is abducted by a serial killer operating in Perth and the South-west. The two women’s lives become connected in a deadly way.
The other is about a group of friends that spend a weekend at a secluded holiday house. The idilic setting turns out to be anything but. The weekend becomes a test of loyalty and trust that has grim consequenses.
I’m hoping to get something out in the first part of next year.
Book title: Retribution Ridge
Author: Anna Willett
Publisher: The Book Folks
For Milly Birdsworth and Her sister Judith, a two day trip in an isolated area of the National Park seems like an ideal way to mend their tattered relationship. With Milly’s best friend Harper along for moral support and experienced hiker Lucas as their guide, it seems nothing can go wrong.
But when everyone has something to hide, it’s difficult to know who to trust. What starts out as an adventure to bring two sisters together quickly becomes a terrifying ordeal where old wounds are exposed and a deadly tragedy is brought to light. One thing is clear, someone is seeking retribution and won’t stop until the guilty are punished.
Other works from the author
About the Author
Anna Willett is the author of Backwoods Ripper and Retribution Ridge. Raised in Western Australia Anna developed a love for fiction at an early age and began writing short stories in high school. Drawn to dark tales, Anna enjoys writing thrillers with strong female characters. When she’s not writing, Anna enjoys reading, travelling and spending time with her husband and two children.