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‘In the dock’ with author Alice La Plante

Winner of the Wellcome Trust Book Prize and longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger and the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger, Turn of Mind is Alice La Plante’s first novel. Faced with our barrage of questions in the dock, Alice talks exclusively to Dead Good about her book, her characters and her tips for budding writers.

Alice tell us about Turn of Mind?

Turn of Mind is a literary murder mystery. It’s told from the point of view of the main suspect to the murder. However, she has Alzheimer’s so she doesn’t remember if she did it or not. In my mind, the book’s exploration of what it’s like to have a deteriorating brain and to be acutely aware of that is the main thrust to the narrative. By the end of the book, I want people to be so thoroughly in the mind of the narrator that they feel they have Alzheimer’s.

Does your writing ever scare you?

Yes, sometimes it takes me to places where I don’t want to go. One of my professors once said that your material is that which causes you to wake up in the middle of the night screaming ‘My God what have I done?’ I think I agree with him.

Are you a disciplined writer?

Extremely disciplined. I write every day, whether I am inspired or not.

Who is your most recognised character? What/who was the inspiration behind that character?

People comment on Jennifer, the narrator of Turn of Mind. The idea for the book was inspired by my mother, who had Alzheimer’s for more than a decade before she passed away last year. However, Jennifer is like no one I know – truly a made up fictional character.

Location; where do you set your books and why?

So far, I’ve only set them in the places I’ve lived for long periods of time: Chicago, where I grew up, and San Francisco, where I moved to as a young adult. I’m trying to branch out a little, and imagine other geographies, but those are the ones that inspire me.

Where do you write?

In a chair in my living room. Our house is too small for me to have an office, and I dislike sitting at a desk. So I sit in my comfy chair with my laptop on my knees. (See photo)

Which crime fiction related book, TV programme or film have had the most impact on you or your writing?

None, really. I don’t read or watch crime dramas!

What is your favourite scene or line from any crime fiction book?

Sorry (see answer to previous question).

What tip would you give any budding writers?

Well, it sounds mundane, but write, write, write. Write when you’re discouraged, when you’re tired, when you feel you have nothing to say. I feel I wasted a lot of time in my youth because I was waiting for the muse to descend. Once I started writing regularly, things start to come.

E-book or paper?

Oh, definitely paper!

If you were a fictional character, how would you write your own death?

What a strange question! I would make it painless – some poison slipped into my drink at a party that simply put me into a sleep from which I never wake up.

…and what would your final meal be?

Grilled prawns.


Find out more about Alice on her website.

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