Interview with J.S. Lark, Author of Her Last Lie
14 Nov 2023
What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Her Last Lie?
Like Beatrix Potter, the children’s author who created Peter Rabbit, and the 19th Century Romantic Poet, Wordsworth, I love the UK’s ‘Lake District National Park’. It’s a unique place deliberately locked in time and now recognised as a World Heritage Site. I spend a lot of time there and my psychological thriller novels seem to go back and forth in settings between the city of Bath in the area where I live in the UK to the Lake District in the north of England.
When I stay in the Lake District, I hang out mostly around the village of Near Sawrey, the town of Hawkshead, Kewsick, Derwent Water, and Esthwaite Lake. If you know these places you’ll spot similarities in my imagined settings, with towns at the feet of the mountains, and quiet picturesque lakes. The first stir of an idea for this story was wrapped around the life of a ferryman who ran a small ferry on a quieter lake, and he plays a part in the story but has slipped to a secondary character. The second inspiration came from an ice cream parlour in the town of Hawkshead, which stirred up my imagination during a ghostly walking tour on a dark evening. A family living in an ice cream parlour also have roles in the plot.
The final point that slotted the whole idea together came while I was walking around the Old Grammar School in Hawkshead. The school is so set in a moment in time it’s as though it’s slipped through a time warp. The school dates from the year 1585 and remains exactly as it was in 1783 when the poet Wordsworth attended. While walking upstairs in the school, I saw an excerpt from Wordworth’s autobiographical poem The Prelude. He wrote about a horrific moment in his school days. When he was eight years old, he found a pile of clothes beside Esthwaite Lake. He waited for the owner to come back, watching over the water. No one came. The next day a body was drawn out of the lake. My story unravelled from these threads. A pile of clothes and the unexplained death of a young man is now at the heart. A teenager’s body is found in a lake, and the impact this has on his family and particularly his younger brother and mother who are desperately trying to discover why he died.
If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of Her Last Lie, what would they be?
I find Taylor Swift’s and Ed Sheeran’s songs inspirational, not necessarily the words in songs but the emotion of songs. So, it’s not theme songs for characters, but songs like Taylor Swift’s All You Had to Do Was Stay, Wish You Would, and Ronan, and Ed Sheeran’s, Sandman, also a song they sang together, Run, which helped me work up the right emotions for writing this story of a mother grieving and yet angry as she tries to find out who killed her son, and manage all the if I hadn’t done thoughts…
What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?
I read all sorts. Any genre. I think it’s more fun to read according to my mood, or whether I want a book to be absolutely absorbed in for a day or two, or something I can pick up and put down while I’m busy doing something else. It’s also great being part of a book club. This challenges me to read things I would not choose and discover different authors and genres. That’s why I’ve started adding book club questions in my books, because our book club is always searching for questions to generate discussion.
What books are on your TBR pile right now?
Steve Cavanagh’s, Kill for Me Kill for You Lucy Foley, The Book of Lost and Found Teresa F Morgan, Mistletoe at the Manor, audio book Liz Fielding, Murder Under the Mistletoe, Lizzie Lane’s Her Father’s Daughter.
What scene in your book was your favorite to write?
The scenes when the teenager’s mother fights back and takes things into her own hands to find out who killed her son.
Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)
I write at odd times, as a passenger in a car, on trains, while stopping for coffee in a café, and I can randomly write and listen to a TV show at the same time. I have to take every opportunity time allows in my busy life. If I can’t capture an idea, though, I stop writing and go for a swim. Swimming clears my mind and then the ideas usually have space to pop up.
Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?
This is a favourite of mine — Confucius said, ‘Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.’ Writing fiction never feels like work. Also, I am a terrible over thinker, and I was told by someone once that most of the people he met with mental health problems were over thinkers and I should learn to ‘let things go’. So, I do try to stop thinking about things I can’t change, but I equally celebrate the over thinking skills of my mind because it’s that overactive inner voice that means I can create make believe.
If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?
This story is as much about love as it is about loss. The lead character Jen has many different forms of relationship — with her sons, with her sons’ father and his mother, with friends and partners. We should all celebrate, and value, the love we have, and in this story as she searches for her son’s killer, Jen not only finds the murderer but also revives her relationship with her lost son.
J.S. Lark is the author of the new book Her Last Lie
Connect with J.S. LarkAuthor Site
Sign up for our email and we’ll send you the best new books in your favorite genres weekly.