Friday 15 July 2011

Under the Spotlight - HEARTBURN by Anne Cassidy

Heartburn is set in London- do you think it is important to set your
stories in a specific place or town?

I’ve lived in London all my life. When I set a story in an urban environment I use London, in particular East London. I know the streets and the feel of living somewhere urban. It’s full of noise and smells and movement. There are great contrasts in London. There are rows and rows of terraced houses and narrow streets alongside huge skyscrapers and big public buildings. I have used the area around Canary Wharf in a couple of my books. In Heart Burn I use the river at night. A dark ominous strip of water that seems to twist and turn through the heart of London.

What was your inspiration for this story. Was it a real life event?

No, in fact it was something quite different. I used to teach creative writing and have done many workshops for young people. One of the assignments I give them to do is to imagine they were standing on the street waiting for someone. That person is late and they are getting concerned. While they’re waiting something happens. When I was working on a new book I decided to use that format. Ashley is waiting for her best friend to come along. She is late. While waiting a boy she knows comes along. He tells her that Tyler Harrington, a boyshe was in a relationship with a year before, has been badly beaten and is in hospital. This triggers her memory of what was a painful affair. Inevitably she becomes involved in Tyler’s story.

Anne Cassidy
The story has a twist in the tail and I was curious to find out if you
planned it all out before you started writing it?

I never know how my stories will end. I have a plan for the first six chapters or so and then I hope the story will grow. The characters and the plot develop and any twists or secrets grow out of this. Of course this approach means an awful lot of rewriting. But that’s OK.

The relationship between Ashe and Tyler is an interesting one. Was that something that you decided on at the beginning or did it develop as you wrote about them?

I love writing about love affairs that go wrong, particularly if one person is carrying a torch for the other. I think longing is a powerful emotion and can make people do extreme things. So Ashley longs for Tyler but won’t admit it to herself. Putting herself in danger and trying to help him, this is the way she shows her love. When I was a teenager I was always falling in love. It was hardly ever returned so I spent a lot of time

Your books are often quite dark, and often don't have happy endings. Do you prefer to write books that end happily for the characters?

I just try to imagine what would happen in real life. Unfortunately there aren’t always happy endings. I try also to leave the ending a bit ‘open’ to let the reader think about what might happen. I made an exception to this rule with Heart Burn.

Can you tell us anything about your latest project?

I am currently finishing the second book of a four book series called THE MURDER NOTEBOOKS. It’s called KILLING RACHEL and I’m getting that euphoric feeling that it’s almost done! 
These books start coming out in May 2012.



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