Interview with Psychological Thriller Author Lyn Yeowart
Lyn Yeowart is an Australian Author. Her sensational debut novel The Silent Listener is due for release on the 24th June 2021 available for pre-order on the link at the bottom of the interview. Don't miss it, it really is a truly emotional, unforgettable psychological thriller. One of the best novels I've read over the past five years (see my blog for my five star review).
What drew you towards writing?
I grew up in a house devoid of books (except for the Bible), and as a child, I never visited a library or a bookshop…but from my first day at school, I loved books and reading, and read everything I could get hold of. Books delighted and amazed me and provided a very effective escape from the realities of my childhood, letting me inside other people’s heads and taking me to other places, both real and imaginary. To me, authors were vastly superior beings who lived in a world far removed from my own where they magically created people and places that made us laugh, cry, gasp and sigh. I often imagined that I would one day write books, and yearned to be an author, but I never really believed that I would. But imagination is mighty powerful, and despite my self-doubt, I never quite let go of the idea that one day I would see my name on the cover of a published book.
If you could describe your latest novel in three words, what would they be?
(Pinching some of your own words!) Australian gothic thriller.
What is your background and how did you get in to writing?
After 8 years of teaching in secondary schools in Australia, I answered a job ad for someone who ‘knows about computers and can write’. This was back in the mid-1980s and while not many people knew ‘about computers’, I had done some courses and taught word-processing at night-school, so I thought this sounded perfect for me. A month later, I was a technical writer, writing manuals and on-line help for computer systems. After about two years, I set up business for myself, and expanded my offerings to include copy writing and business writing, and since then, I’ve written or edited all sorts of things…reports for governments, captions for artwork, speeches for executives, website content, textbooks, articles, training materials, standards for medical professionals, warehousing procedures, safety instructions…you name it, I’ve written or edited it! Plus, I help other creative writers polish their work and develop their pitches. Along the way, I dabbled in my own writing, and finally got serious about it when I went back to uni and completed a couple of post-graduate qualifications in creative writing at the University of Melbourne. Positive feedback from my lecturers, including a couple of famous Australian writers, made me think I could do this, so I started devoting more time to my creative writing, and applied for and was accepted into a selective Novel-writing Masterclass. I put more and more time into my writing and haven’t looked back!
What do you think makes a good story?
Interesting characters with flaws (we all have them, so our characters need them too), an unpredictable plot, an emotional truth underpinning everything. I want to read (and write!) stories that keep you reading into the early hours of the morning… “just one more chapter”!
Please tell me about the idea behind the book, its planning and its significance to you.
The Silent Listener draws on experiences of my childhood living on a farm where everything was dominated by my father’s religion…and his violence. I needed to get this book out of me before I could move on to other novels, but I didn't really do a lot of planning—I let it develop organically. For example, my early drafts didn’t include Wendy Boscombe, or the cop who’s still haunted by her disappearance 20 years later. When I started writing, it was definitely to process my father’s legacy, but the more I wrote, the more I realised two things: I could weave in fiction to write a more compelling story without losing the emotional truth of my childhood; and I could have a lot more fun writing fiction!
Some writers have ideas in the strangest places, where do you have your best ideas?
This isn’t very original I’m afraid, but I often think of good ideas in the shower, particularly for dialogue…I suddenly find myself saying the lines a character needs to say so that I can effectively create, progress or reveal an element of the plot, like a twist. Ideas also occur when I’m in bed in the middle of the night…so I’ve learnt to record those ideas on my phone in the dark, because I know from experience that if I don’t, the idea will have disappeared when I wake up in the morning.
Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?
Having signed a 2-book deal with my Australian publisher (Penguin Random House), I’m about a third of the way into what will be another psychological thriller with multiple twists, lies and secrets, and a murder with long tentacles that touch the lives of the innocent and the guilty. The more I write, the more excited I get about it as new ideas keep appearing on the page. I’m not drawing on my own life at all this time (thank goodness!), but I have been inspired by events that happened to a friend.
And meanwhile, I have a plot bubbling away in my head for Book Number 3, and I have to say, I’m equally excited about that one!
What was the moment like when you got your book deal?
It was bizarre, because when my agent emailed me with the news, I was working at a client’s, editing a large and complex policy document for them. I didn’t know the people there very well and it was a very quiet workplace, so I had to walk away from my desk and find somewhere private to ring family members and whisper the news to them…when all I wanted to do was shout! Then I came back to my desk and decided to tell the people sitting around me because I couldn't just sit there and pretend nothing had happened. They were all thrilled and excited for me, and several of them have now read it and told me how much they love it. On a more emotional level, getting a deal…especially for 2 books…was the affirmation I think all writers crave: that other people love your writing and want to read more.
When I signed with Joffe Books, that was another moment of sheer joy because while I was writing The Silent Listener, I had never given any thought to being published overseas, and it’s such a wonderful feeling. I have friends in UK…from uni and work and travels… and family, so I’m totally thrilled they’ll be able to buy it here.
How has your life changed since your book release?
It’s been amazing…I’ve met and become friends with many more writers, I’m participating in writers festivals and other fantastic events all over Australia (and hoping I can get do the same in the UK and elsewhere once we can all travel safely again), I’m being asked to help more writers with their manuscripts, I’m chatting with writers, readers and reviewers on-line (so much fun!) and I’m spending more time writing. I am actually living the dream!
One of the most heart-warming outcomes of being published came when a reader connected with me via social media, telling me that she loved my book…and that we went to High School together. We messaged back and forth and she sent a black and white class photo of us in Form 1 – and I recognised her straight away. Then we discovered we live about 5k from each other, so we decided to meet up – and got on like a house on fire. Now we have weekly walks together and love that we are both each other’s oldest and newest friend. It’s 51 years since we were in Form 1 together!
Have you allowed yourself to be influenced by your readers’ opinions of your characters?
It’s been interesting to read readers’ comments…and they have indeed influenced how I’m writing the next novel. For example, there’s one twist in The Silent Listener that I deliberately dropped clues about, but I think lots of readers would prefer not to have worked out the truth before the reveal, so I am definitely not dropping any clues this time around. I want every twist to be a total surprise to every reader!
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Writing The Silent Listener was a lot of fun, and I really loved creating a book with multiple twists and secrets. I hope UK readers really enjoy it and connect with me online to tell me what they like about it.