CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger 2018 Shortlist

In preparation for the announcement of the winner of the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award next month, we interview all the shortlisted authors.  This week Emily Koch is in the hot seat, discussing her book If I Die Before I Wake.

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How does it feel to be on the shortlist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger?

It is a massive honour, and I still can’t quite believe it. I’m waiting for the call telling me it is all a wind-up. For so long I didn’t write because I thought I wouldn’t be good enough – I wish I could go back in time ten years and show myself this shortlist. It is extra-special to be up for an award linked to Ian Fleming. For my name to be mentioned in the same sentence as his is mind-blowing.

If you could summarise If I Die Before I Wake in ten words, what would you say?

You can’t move. You can’t speak. You can’t stop them.

What’s your writing process – do you jump straight in, or plan and plot first?

I’m a big planner. There are spreadsheets involved, there are post-its stuck to the wall. I love this part of the process, it’s so exciting to piece together the plot. That said, sometimes the books have a mind of their own and take the story off in another direction, once I start writing.

Which thriller writers do you most admire?

What I love about this genre is that it is so wide – I have recently really enjoyed Celeste Ng’s family thrillers, but also D.B. John’s explosive political thriller Star of the North. I’ve also been lucky to get my hands on a proof copy of The Silent Patient, a psychological thriller by Alex Michaelides which is out in 2019. It’s about a therapist who becomes obsessed with discovering the motives behind one of his patient’s violent crimes – and the twist totally blindsided me.

What makes a killer thriller?

I’m not sure I could put it any better than Ian Fleming himself – the main thing is that it needs to be a page-turner. Personally I love thrillers that also have mysteries at their heart, plenty of character development and opportunities for the reader to experience big rushes of emotion. I’m not asking for much, am I?!

The winner of the 2018 CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger will be announced on 25th October.  The other shortlisted authors are Mick Herron, Attica Locke, Don Winslow, C J Tudor and Colette McBeth.  Look out for the next instalment from the shortlisted authors next week.