When it came time to find inspiration for her latest novel, Roz Nay’s day job provided all the horrors for a plot she would need.
The Nelson writer’s latest thriller Hurry Home, which comes out July 7, is based on Nay’s experiences working in child protection services. One of her protagonists, Alex, also works in child protection.
It was there, in how she pays her bills, that Nay found her new book.
“I live in this idyllic town and know all the worst things about it,” said Nay. “I know about all of the underbelly, what’s really happening with all the kids, and there’s a lot of that in there.”
But it took Nay years longer than she expected to shape the plot of Hurry Home.
Nay released her debut Our Little Secret in 2017. The book was a surprise bestseller, earning Nay international acclaim, a two-book contract with Simon and Schuster Canada and cachet as a new writer to watch among thriller fans.
Her sophomore effort, however, did not come easily. Hurry Home, which she began working on in 2017, was initially set to be released in 2018.
“It’s difficult following when everybody’s watching and wants something and is like, ‘is it ready, is it ready?’” she said. “It’s hard. With Our Little Secret it probably took me a year to write it, but it wasn’t any pressure or expectations.”
The plot of Hurry Home centres on two sisters, Alex and Ruth, who haven’t seen each other in 10 years and share what Nay describes as a terrible secret.
Nay said she first wrote the book as a family drama that featured more tragedy than thrills. Even though Our Little Secret was a genre hit, Nay said she still hadn’t learned how to write thrillers and needed guidance from her editor.
“It was like being in a science lesson and not writing down what was happening, and then being told to do the experiment again. So I didn’t understand the formula and that was a problem.”
The solution for Nay was to consider the memories and anxieties that keep her up at night.
The sisters’ secret — no spoilers here — is based on an accident she witnessed as a child while visiting her grandfather’s farm in Scotland.
Nay also has two children of her own. What she deals with as a child protection employee is never far from her thoughts at home.
“I always seem to write about young kids and the worst imaginable things happening to them,” she said. “It’s just an outlet for things that I’d worry about in the real world. I can put them in there and not put them somewhere else.”
Writing Hurry Home has also been a personal breakthrough for Nay’s development as a novelist. She just finished the first draft of her third book, which took just eight months to write.
That book is inspired by travels she took across Africa in her 20s, and was far easier for Nay to write than Hurry Home.
“I didn’t know how to plot the thing. I was just winging it massively. And with Book Three I plotted it, and that made a massive difference.”
Nay will launch Hurry Home at Touchstones Nelson from 7 to 9 p.m. on July 7. To meet occupancy limits, Touchstones asks visitors to preregister for 20-minute time slots by either calling 250-352-9813 ext. 460 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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