I first met AA Abbott when she came to The Big Comfy Bookshop in Coventry with a group of Brummie* writers who were reading from their latest works. I was there as part of the audience but they are a lively and welcoming group (as well as being great writers) and we soon got chatting.
Both AA Abbott and I have short stories due to appear later this year in a Christmas anthology organised by two of the group members.
(*That’s Birmingham in England, for non UK followers!)
What is the title of your latest book?
The Vodka Trail. The book is a suspense thriller featuring Kat, a young woman who was left orphaned and destitute as a teenager. Although she drifted on the margins of society for a while, she’s now in her twenties and has made a new life for herself. She’s determined to recover her family’s high-end vodka business in the former Soviet Union.
Back in Birmingham, local businessman Marty has become rich distributing the vodka across the world. He knows Kat has no intention of working with him, as she blames him for her parents’ deaths. Fearing for the future of his business, he decides to thwart her plans.
Unfortunately for them, both are kidnapped by terrorists in Kat’s homeland. Held hostage in a small cell, Kat and Marty realise their only chance of survival lies in co-operating.
I love the cover of The Vodka Trail, which was designed by Annika Wilkinson, who has a background in street art. I’ve asked her to design a new cover for “The Bride’s Trail” as well, to bring out the darkness and mystery in that story.
Kat and Marty appeared in my last book, The Bride’s Trail, too, but each book stands alone from the other – my beta readers, who read a draft of The Vodka Trail, assured me of that.
What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding?
Believe it or not, the biggest challenge is keeping away from books when I’m immersed in writing one. I love to read, but just as I subconsciously parrot a pastiche of someone’s accent when I’m talking to them, I’m painfully afraid of stealing choice phrases from other writers. As soon as I finish writing a thriller, I have a delightful reading splurge.
As you might imagine, when I get the first printed proof copy, all that self-denial and hard work slaving over a hot keyboard suddenly seems worthwhile. It’s very satisfying to flick through that pristine book and see a tale well told.
What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?
Seek feedback. Twenty beta readers saw an early draft of each of my books and gave me lots of recommendations for improvement. The Vodka Trail has also been professionally edited. For nearly a decade, I’ve belonged to a monthly writing group; we read short stories and novel chapters to each other. There’s plenty of criticism, but it’s always constructive.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m writing a short story for a little girl. She’s the star and it’s about her world. Her father was the winning bidder for the story in a charity auction.
What do you like to read?
You can’t go wrong with a good thriller. I’ve always loved Ruth Rendell (especially writing as Barbara Vine), John Grisham and Kate Atkinson’s detective stories. In the last year, I was blown away by Blood Libel, from Brummie writer Chuck Loyola. There’s a lot of talent in the West Midlands right now; I’ve also enjoyed Simon Fairbanks’ fantasy novels, David Moody and James Brogden’s horror, and the comic Clovenhoof series set in Sutton Coldfield. I adored Katharine D’Souza’s fiction so much that I asked her to edit my last two books.
Where can readers find you?
Check out http://aaabbott.co.uk/free-stuff/ for a free ebook and more!