May 2011


Melissa Hill’s latest novel, Something From Tiffany’s, was released this month. Known as the queen of twists, her other books include The Last To Know, Please Forgive Me and The Truth About You. She lives in Dublin, Ireland, and also writes thrillers with her husband under the name Casey Hill. Her website is (Interview by Shirley Benton-Bailey)

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  1. 1. Tell us about your latest release, Something From Tiffany’s?

    Something From Tiffany’s is a story about two couples whose lives become intertwined when their Tiffany’s bags get mixed up.

  2. 2. Did you always aspire to be a writer?

    It wasn’t a conscious career choice but I’ve always enjoyed writing stories, and was one of those weirdos at school who actually looked forward to going home and writing the English essay. From an early age I enjoyed reading and writing stories and perhaps everyone who enjoys reading always secretly wonders if they have the ability to write. When I did start, I enjoyed it so much that I couldn’t stop, and I’m still going.

  3. 3. How long does it take you to write each of your books?

    It varies with each book but generally it takes about six months to get the first draft out, and then another month or two for edits, so about eight months in all. Although I’ve had to cut this time down a little lately, as I’m involved in writing two books a year now - one of my own and another co-written with my husband. We write forensic thrillers under the pseudonym Casey Hill.

  4. 4. Right from the start, did you set out to write a book with a major twist at its core or was that just how the book evolved?

    I wanted to come up with the kind of story that I myself liked to read. I particularly enjoy novels in which there are underlying mysteries to be solved and are full of unexpected surprises, so I instinctively used these aspects right from the beginning.

  5. 5. Can you tell us a little about your writing process?

    I do a rough outline but rarely stick to it, as if a plot twist comes into my head throughout the writing process, then all bets are off and everything needs to change. I write the first draft very much by the seat of my pants, and keep going until the story is complete. Then I go back and fine-tune everything until I’m happy with it.

  6. 6. Your books are written in the third person. Could you ever see yourself writing a first-person narrative?

    Personally I find the first person point of view very restricting, and am much more comfortable with third. Then again, I do like a challenge so maybe some day!

  7. 7. Your writing is synonymous with great twists that are so hard to see coming! Do you feel pressure to continue writing books that follow that same success pattern?

    Readers tell me that they love the twists and are continuously trying to guess them, so I’m very happy to keep giving them what they enjoy. It means that with each subsequent book I have to try to double and triple bluff which requires considerable mental gymnastics, but that’s the reason I enjoy writing so much. I actually don’t think it’s possible for me to write a story that doesn’t have some form of twist in it (however small). By now, it’s almost second nature!

  8. 8. The publishing industry has taken a hard knock in recent years. What’s your view on the future of publishing with regard to e-books vs bookstores?

    My own view on e-books is that they are simply a new way of reading, but I can’t see them ever replacing a physical book. While an e-reader might be convenient for reading multiple books on holiday and manuscripts etc, the reading experience just isn’t the same. My guess is that e-readers and books will co-exist well into the future.

  9. 9. As an author who has had books out since 2003, what’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the publishing industry?

    It’s not so much unique to the publishing industry but I think social networking has hugely transformed the way we as authors connect with readers and other authors. Writing is such a solitary occupation, and while Twitter & Facebook are in one sense huge time eaters, they are a wonderful way of keeping in touch with what’s going on in the world.

  10. 10. What message do you hope readers will take from your books?

    My ultimate aim is to try and ensure that readers enjoy the stories and the reading experience.

  11. 11. How do you feel about the “chick lit” label? Do you mind your books being branded as chick lit?

    Not in the slightest. I feel very privileged to be doing something I love and never get hung up on labels. In my opinion, the only label any writer should realistically worry about being applied to their books is “shite”?!

  12. 12. What advice would you give aspiring authors?

    Read as much as you can and read critically. Study what works for you and what doesn't but don't make too many comparisons to your own writing as you are on a learning curve. While I'm on the first draft of a novel, I will not - under any circumstances - allow myself to read another women's fiction novel. I'll read thrillers to beat the band but nothing like I'm writing myself, otherwise, I get disheartened despite the fact that mine is still a work-in-progress. Conversely, when I’m working on the Casey Hill thrillers, I read nothing but women’s fiction.

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