The House in the Woods: Zoe Miller talks about her gripping new book
Readers are led into a tangled web of secrets, and the exploration of a long-standing family rift that sees a retired actress and her grand-niece uncovering a vitriolic vendetta, in bestselling author Zoe Miller’s gripping new book ‘The House in the Woods’.
Zoe, a mother-of-three who lives in Knocklyon, is a seasoned writer whose latest book is her twelfth release and stays true to her suspenseful style of writing.
Having previously worked in communications, Zoe gave up her day job in 2017 to turn her attention to writing full-time, and has seen success with turning her passion for writing into a career.
Zoe told her local newspaper about why elements of mystery that centre on secrets are a mainstay of her books, what it’s like to leave characters behind when a book is complete, and how it feels to be releasing her twelfth book.
You’ve been writing since childhood, but when did you realise writing was something that you wanted to seriously pursue?
I’ve known since childhood that writing books was my mission, although I put my dreams on the backburner for a while when life intervened during my teenage years.
I began writing again in my 30s, but it wasn’t until I was in my 40s when I finally got serious about finding enough time to devote to the marathon of completing a book.
It took me a while to get published, but I’m glad to say I haven’t stopped since.
Your books always have a suspenseful air, usually centred on secrets and hidden parts of your characters’ lives. What in particular about the unravelling of secrets do you find so rich for exploration in your books?
For me, exploring characters and unravelling their secrets is all about peeling back the glossy cover of their lives in order to reveal and understand what drives them deep down inside.
This can be a rich, abundant, and sometimes devastating combination of hopes, fears and anxieties, joys, sorrows and passions; wonderful and messy everyday life, in other words, where all things are possible.
You said in previous interviews that, at least initially, the characters you develop can be a little elusive. What is it like to develop the characters over the course of a book and see them change?
It can be quite surprising. No matter how much I imagine scenes in advance, writing is a wonderful adventure into the unknown and I don’t always know how characters are going to develop and respond to conflict and drama, until I’m in the middle of writing the scene.
Characters can amaze me by revealing a hidden fear or unexpected hope, and that’s the magical part of writing.
Because of that, I have changed stories mid-way through, by deepening a plot and even deciding who lives or dies.
When you finish writing a book, what is it like to leave the characters behind after spending so long inhabiting their world?
It takes me a year, on average, to write a book, followed by rewrites and edits, so the people I write about become very real to me, especially when my editor and I chat about them as though we’ve just had lunch with them.
When the final proofs are signed off, I feel I’m saying goodbye to friends, and sometimes they haunt me for a while.
I write standalone novels, so it means creating a new cast of characters each time and I often miss my ‘old’ characters until I get to know the ‘new’ ones.
What is your latest book, ‘The House in the Woods’, about?
‘The House in The Woods’ is about retired actress Evie Lawrence who has been injured in a suspicious accident.
She lives in a secluded woodland setting in Wicklow and despite an old family rift, she has to accept the help of her grand-niece, Amber, in order to recover.
Amber’s career and love life have recently imploded, but both women are carefully safeguarding their secrets and keeping each other at a distance.
And then they become embroiled in a dangerous vendetta against Evie.
‘The House in the Woods’ is your twelfth book. How do you feel about releasing it and knowing you have such a strong back catalogue as a writer?
It’s a dream come true, to be honest. Sometimes I’m still pinching myself, and I feel grateful that I was able to make it happen thanks to the support of family and friends.
Some of my back catalogue is available in leading bookstores but all of it is available on kindle and – happy days – my publishers are in the process of rebranding some eBooks with exciting, brand new covers.
‘The House in the Woods’, published by Hachette Ireland, is out now online and in major bookstores.
For further details, visit www.zoemillerauthor.com