"Welcome to Britain’s most sinister seaside resort . . .
Prudence Green is a troubled woman. Stifled by her existence as an RAF wife, she’s dying for a bit of excitement. When one of the other women on the base commits suicide (having discovered that her husband is having an affair with a male comrade in Iraq), Pru and her best friend Lena are prompted to set off on a memorably surreal journey – a criminal investigation, a search for love and an exploration of Pru’s own dark past. The discontented pair escape the base and arrive in a blighted seaside town, Allcombe, determined to find out the truth behind the supposed suicide of one-time TV star Crystal Tynee. But as they explore the lawless town, Pru and Lena find that Allcombe hides more than one hideous secret. Light Reading is a wickedly clever detective story and a pitch-black mystery, seething with grotesque and unforgettable characters, and concluding with a twist that will leave you breathless."
Aliya Whiteley was born in Ilfracombe, North Devon in 1974. She currently lives in Cambridgeshire.
Hi, Aliya. Tell us a little about your novel, Light Reading:
Light Reading is, ironically, a very dark book. The main character, Pru, started out as a nameless narrator in a short story I wrote called Spitting Wasps (it's on my website) and I loved that wilful, proud, but utterly misguided example of womanhood. She needed a foil, so the other end of the spectrum, Lena (the second narrator) came along - romantic, idealistic, and just as convinced that the way she sees the world is the only way to see it. Together they pretend to be Holmes and Watson in order to avoid hard facts about their lives, but let's just say detecting is not their forte.
The plot evolved from my previous novel, and most of the book takes place in the strange seaside town of Allcombe once more. Mainly it's about sex and death. Actually, it's completely about sex and death.
Light Reading is your second book published by Macmillan New Writing. How has your life changed since they published Three Things About Me in 2006?
A lot has changed since then. I moved from Germany to Cambridge, got on to the Arts Council's Escalator scheme, got mentored by the crime novelist Michelle Spring, got some funding, got an agent and got taken seriously as a writer. In that order. It's been a strange couple of years.
What is your typical writing day?
I write on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9.25 to 11.50. That's when my daughter is at creche and I am at the local coffee shop. I write longhand for the first draft, then type it up on to my laptop, then fiddle with it a bit until it seems as right as its going to get (which is never very right, to be honest). Of course, I'm thinking about whatever I'm working on all the time so when it comes to writing it down, it's pretty much like taking dictation. I'll do between 3,000 and 5,000 words on one of those mornings.
Four random facts:
Best thing about writing:
Writers I admire:
Most ludicrous moment in my life:
Thanks. Aliya, and congratulations on the new book.
By the way, Aliya's book launch for Light Reading will be held at Goldsboro Books, London, on 28th Feb. But if you can't wait to bag a signed copy, you can get an unsigned one at the following sites: