Today I’m delighted to feature former BBC Producer turned author, S.E. Lynes. She is an Amazon #1 best selling author of ‘intelligent and haunting’, ‘beautifully written’ psychological thrillers. Her latest being, The Housewarming.
After completing her MA, Lynes taught creative writing at Richmond Adult Community College for over ten years. She now combines writing, mentoring and lecturing.
She has also published three children’s books in Italy: Il Leopardo Lampo, La Coccodrilla Ingamba, and the bilingual La Scimmia Spiritosa/The Funny Monkey all available at Amazon.it
Over to S. E. Lynes
Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
I will caveat my answers by saying that these tracks are not necessarily my taste but I don’t think we get to choose the soundtrack of our lives; for me, meaningful songs come to us retrospectively and are about our associations with a time, a place or a person. (all of which is my way of apologising for the cheesier tracks.)
Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. My mum used to play this piece for me when I was little, sometimes to help me get to sleep.
The Winner Takes it All by ABBA. It’s tough to pick one ABBA song as they were the soundtrack to my childhood. I was a massive fan and even went to see the movie, which I imagine was probably rubbish, but I loved it.
Saturday Night by The Blue Nile because, whilst my husband and I have many songs, this is the big one and, yes, if it catches me off guard it makes me cry: An ordinary girl/Can make the world alright/Love me all the way/Saturday night … I mean, come on! Sniff.
Girls Like You by Maroon 5. My daughters sang this so much together and when my elder daughter went travelling I could not even listen to it.
I Believe in Miracles by The Jackson Sisters. I love to dance and when I do, I dance to music like this. See also Like Sugar by Chaka Khan and American Boy by Estelle. Etcetera
What 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.
Books. Now I have a Kindle, I can take a selection with me in one slim volume and if that fails, I always have an audiobook on my phone.
Basic cooking facilities. I love to cook. It helps me relax and is the perfect post writing activity.
Music. I don’t listen to music when I write but love to listen when I finish either for dancing or for lying in the bath. Long walks with my friends and/or family.
Long walks have saved me during lockdown. I walk for at least an hour every day and longer at weekends. During lockdown I’ve also discovered short daily yoga, which makes a real difference to my stress levels – like putting Gaviscon on my skin!
The pub. I miss going to the pub with friends and also just strolling out in the evening with my OH for a pint and a chat away from home. I don’t drink a lot but I like a daily tipple.
Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?
You don’t have to be good at it straight away. If you like doing it, that’s enough for now. When things are tough, you’re learning, not to mention storing material for your work or how to cope with something similar next time. As Nora Ephron said, ‘it’s all copy’.
Aristotle knew everything. He was such a wise geezer. Everything you need to know about writing, he wrote it, but what he says about happiness is spot on too: find something you’re good at/like doing and do it a lot. The rest will follow – that last bit was me btw but I believe that.
Stay open-minded and open-hearted. What others think of you is none of your business.
Someone once said to me, ‘before you think you’re suffering from low self-esteem, check you’re not surrounded by arseholes’. Good friends are there for you when you’re successful as well as when you’re having it tough. Both extremes can be destabilising and difficult to cope with. Beware anyone who is around only for one or the other – the sycophants or the emotional vampires. The good eggs are simply low key there without any big displays.
Life is about balance. If you’re unhappy, sometimes external changes are the solution. Too much work and your joy shrivels away, too much rest and you become lethargic, too much partying and you lose your sense of purpose…it’s all about balance, I think. Sometimes your body needs rest, sometimes your soul needs food. I think lockdown has proved that being a hermit is just as tiring as being a party animal.
Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you
When I was about nine, I got a dried pea stuck up my nose. I was pretending it was a bogie and it went in and then I couldn’t get it out. My dad had to take me to hospital but they never found it.
I used to play the piano but now I’m rubbish.
In addition to English, I speak French, Spanish and Italian.
I got married in a pink trouser suit.
I am the oldest of three children – my brother is a graphic artist and my sister is a film maker.
Tell us 5 things you’d like to do or achieve.
I’d love one of my books to be made into a film or tv series.
I’d love to walk the South Coastal path.
I’d quite like to write a screen play.
I’d like to own a small place by the sea where I could escape to write.
I’d love to stop biting my nails – terrible habit I’ve had since I was a child.
Many thanks for joining me today, I particularly enjoyed your music choices. Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata was one of the first pieces of classical music I fell in love with (not least because it was sampled on a particularly angst ridden recording by The Shangri Las – on the B side of Leader of the Pack) I was also an ABBA girl. I couldn’t live without books or music either. I love your advice to your younger self, all very wise and equally applicable to us all as adults – I think we can be too hard on ourselves. I had to laugh at your pea up the nose anecdote as it reminded me of an incident with my sister involving a trip to A&E. She’d been trying to balance a pearl (not a real one) in her ear pretending it was an earring when she pushed it in and it got stuck. I think there was an incident with something up her nose as well, but that was a different event. I really hope you get to achieve your dreams – the icing on the cake would be a cottage near the South Coastal Path where you can escape to walk and write your screenplays. With all that going on you wouldn’t have time to bite your nails!
S. E. Lynes’s Books
Everyone is going to the housewarming party.
All the same people who lived on the street the day Abi vanished…
Will her mother finally learn the truth?
Ava only left her daughter in the pushchair for five minutes. The buckle was fastened, and she was sure it was safe. But when she came downstairs, the door was open and Abi was gone – she walked down the road, past the Lovegoods’ house, and was never seen again.
A year later, the Lovegoods are planning their long-anticipated housewarming party. Ava doesn’t want to go. She can’t bear to look down that end of the road, to see the place where Abi vanished, and she doesn’t want to spend time with people who don’t share her grief. Her husband Matt persuades her: he’s worried about her. A night out might do her good.
But as her friends and neighbours chat, and the drink and gossip flows, Ava learns something new about the day she has re-lived a thousand times. A throwaway comment which could change everything.
Ava thought she knew every last detail of that day.
She’s about to find out she was wrong…
Can You See Her?
Rachel Ryder doesn’t understand how her life has changed so completely. When she was younger, heads would turn when she walked into a room. Her children needed her; her husband adored her.
But somehow the years wore that all away. She was so busy raising her children, looking after her parents… She can barely remember the woman she used to be, the one whose husband told her she was out of his league. The woman she is now just does the laundry and makes the dinner, and can walk into a room without anyone knowing she’s there.
She knows that she hated feeling invisible. She knows that she thought: what would it take for you to see me again?
And now she’s worried that she did something terrible. Because she’s sitting in a room, being asked whether she killed someone.
When no-one is watching, you can get away with anything…
The Lies We Hide
The truth can set you free, or make you a prisoner…
Thirty years ago, Nicola Watson lived with her parents and older brother in a respectable suburb. At ten years old, she didn’t yet understand why her stomach tightened when she heard her father’s heavy tread as he returned home late at night, or why it made her brother Graham’s stammer get worse, or why one night her mother Carol woke them both, wide-eyed and whispering, and took them out of their home and into the unknown.
Now a successful lawyer in the city, with a life poles apart from her dark beginnings, Nicola has returned home for her mother’s funeral. But as she stands in her mother’s house, remembering the woman who sacrificed everything for her children, Nicola has to confront the guilt that she feels for leaving her family behind. And the belief that she played a part in the events that led to her brother going to prison for murder.
All Carol wanted was to protect her children, but escaping her husband was only the beginning of the story. And when Nicola learns the truth of what her mother did, it will change everything she thought she knew about herself and her family.
The night she moves in with Peter, she’s so happy, so exhilarated, so in love. Later, she will remember a much smaller feeling, a tiny one percent in her gut. And she will remember pushing that feeling aside…
Samantha Frayn doesn’t know why Peter Bridges picks her – a nobody with bitten fingernails and a troubled childhood behind her – but she falls quickly. He’s older, charming, likes fine wine and French films, and his beautiful home has real art on its walls.
Peter transforms Samantha’s life in an instant. He sees the better version of herself – the one she’s always wanted to be. It’s only normal that there’s a little friction, when she moves in, over domestic matters like where things are kept, or the proper times to eat, sleep and shower. She’s lucky to be with someone who can help her find a new job, move on from childish friends, and speak with greater sophistication.
But as Samantha notices, more and more, Peter’s temper, she starts to wonder if there might be consequences to breaking the rules of the world he has so quickly built around her.
And then she receives an anonymous note that makes her ask: is she the first woman to feel trapped by Peter? Is she being paranoid, manipulated, or could she be in danger?
You can tell the truth about your life, but someone needs to be listening. Someone needs to trust you. And someone needs to save you from the man you thought you loved.
The first thing you should know, dear reader, is that I am dead…
Teacher Pippa wants a second chance. Recently divorced and unhappy at work, she uproots her life and moves to the countryside, determined to make a fresh start. But Pippa soon realises: your troubles are never far behind.
When Pippa meets blue-eyed Ryan Marks, he is funny and charming. He is haunted by his past – but insists he is a changed man.
He might just be the answer to all of her problems. And Pippa can tell the truth from lies. She’d know if she were in danger. Wouldn’t she?
When city girl Shona moves with her partner Mikey and their baby to an idyllic cottage in rural Scotland, she believes that all that lies ahead for her family is happiness.
But with Mikey working long hours away from home, the frightening isolation of the Scottish countryside begins to get to Shona. She feels lonely and trapped.
That is, until she is rescued by a new friendship with the enchanting Valentina. Valentina enters Shona’s life like a whirlwind, bringing excitement and spontaneity to replace boredom and fear.
Now Shona has the perfect home, the perfect man, and the perfect new best friend – or does she?
As Shona’s fairytale life begins to unravel, the deep dark wood outside becomes the least of her fears…
You made a promise to your sister. It could destroy your daughter.
15-year-old Rosie lies in hospital fighting for her life. She’s trying to tell her mother what happened to her, but she can’t speak the words out loud.
Toni is a doting and over-protective mother, terrified for her daughter’s life. Having lost her husband in a tragic accident, Toni has dedicated her life to keeping Rosie safe from harm. She needs to know what secrets Rosie has been keeping, and how she ended up in a hospital bed – but Toni has a secret of her own…
Thirty years ago, Toni and her sister Bridget made each other a promise: never to speak of their childhood; to protect each other without asking for help from others, no matter what…
But in order to save Rosie, Toni may have to break her lifelong promise to her sister… and open doors to her past she hoped would remain closed forever.
Christopher would never hurt anyone. Not intentionally. Even after everything that’s happened I still believe that…
Christopher Harris is a lonely boy. A boy who has never fitted in to his family. Who has always felt something was missing from his life.
Until one day, when he discovers a suitcase in his family’s attic. Inside the suitcase is a letter. Inside the letter is a secret about his mother that changes everything.
What price would you pay for the perfect family?
Christopher finally has a chance at happiness. A happiness that he will do anything to protect…
Dark Minds : a charity collection of short stories
Do you think you know darkness? Think again.
Bloodhound Books presents Dark Minds – a collection of stories by authors who have come together to produce an anthology that will lure, tantalise and shock its readers.
What took place By the Water?
What goes on behind A Stranger’s Eyes?
And what is so special about Slow Roast Pork?
From master authors such as Lisa Hall, Steven Dunne, Louise Jensen and Anita Waller, readers can expect a one hell of a ride…
All profits from the sale of this book will be donated to Hospice UK and Sophie’s Appeal.
Dark Minds is a collection of 40 crime and thriller short stories from authors including; Louise Jensen, L.J. Ross, Lisa Hall, Steven Dunne, Betsy Reavley, Alex Walters and Anita Waller plus many more.