Interview with LJ Ross, author of Sycamore Gap
16 Sep 2015
Tell us a little bit about your new release, Sycamore Gap.
Sycamore Gap is the second in the series of DCI Ryan novels. The first, Holy Island, was a UK Number 1 bestseller on Amazon and was also based in beautiful Northumberland, which is my home county. This second book showcases Hadrian’s Wall country and sees the return of the main protagonist, DCI Ryan, and his team. After a traumatic time, he believes he has left the past behind him, but when the skeleton of a young woman is found inside one of the most iconic spots on Hadrian’s Wall, he is forced to step up and face some of his personal demons in order to piece together her past and find her killer. The story is another fast-paced whodunnit with plenty of humour to carry along the darker sides to the mystery.
Who are your literary heroes? Why do they inspire you?
There are so many authors I have enjoyed over the years, almost too many to count! If I were pressed, I would say that I admire different elements in each. For example, Nora Roberts, who writes bestselling romantic suspense, has a unique capability of pinpointing and writing stories which people enjoy reading – they’re like cat nip! Similarly, I very much enjoyed Val McDermid’s series of Tony Hill detective novels, for her psychological insights into the minds of her characters as well as the killer. As a girl, I loved reading sweeping adventure novels such as The Far Pavilions by M. M. Kaye or The Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas. In their own ways, each of these literary giants have inspired me to try to inject some adventure into the mysteries I’m weaving.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
In life, the best advice I’ve ever received was to try never to harbour regrets. Life is both long and, paradoxically, short. That being the case, try to grasp it with both hands and then you’ll never find yourself in a rocking chair one day, wishing that you had done more with the time you were given. In making a career change from the legal world to writing novels, I’ve tried to apply this advice – it’s working out so far!
Say you have an afternoon to yourself, and you can pick any place to be and any activity. Where would you go and what would you do?
That’s a tough question! There are times when I love nothing more than to be in the hustle and bustle of London, maybe sitting with a strong coffee and a gigantic slab of cake. But, nothing beats sitting on Bamburgh beach in Northumberland, which has a long stretch of golden sand, overlooked by a magnificent castle with panoramic views out to the North Sea. On a balmy afternoon, there’s nothing better than wrapping up against the wind and going for a bracing walk along that beach followed by something sugary and calorific at the nearby cafe!
Which books are currently on your nightstand?
How to Train Your Toddler! I have an energetic two-year-old son and I need all the help I can get! Aside from that, I’m hoping to find time to read Go Set a Watchman.
Say you’re hosting a dinner party and can invite anyone in the world, alive or dead, fictional or real. Who’s coming to dinner?
My husband – he can cook, he makes me laugh and he ain’t bad to look at, either! Perhaps Arthur Conan-Doyle and Stephen Fry, too.
What makes your world go round? Why does it bring you joy?
Aside from my son, who is a breath of fresh air, I really do love to read. Often, I’ll listen to music while reading, so I tend to associate certain songs with books I’ve read. I have always loved the feeling of being transported into your own imagination and any writer who makes it possible should be commended!
What’s your favorite line from Sycamore Gap?
My favourite line is taken from a scene between DCI Ryan and his nemesis, a serial killer known as The Hacker. The killer is goading him from a position of relative power, having already been incarcerated for previous crimes:
“You wonder ‘how’ and ‘why’, brooding about it until you can’t sleep and you can’t eat, but the answers lie inside you; you have only to look into a mirror. The mind is its own place, Ryan, and it can make a Heav’n of hell, a hell of Heav’n.”
Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?
I don’t ascribe to any particular religion, but I do agree with the general idea that you should treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself. I try to live a decent life, with integrity, even if that means confronting things while others sit on the fence. It’s a personality thing, I suppose: some people tend towards apathy, but I’m certainly not one of them.
LJ Ross is the author of the new book Sycamore Gap.Buy The Book
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Taylor loves books with a heavy dose of absurdity, hilarity, and beautiful prose. She is a marketer, adventurer, nature-lover, Hufflepuff, wannabe world traveler, and advocate of laughter.