1. Do you plan your work, or go where the muse takes you?
Both. I come up with a rough outline, and then I tend to ignore it.
2. What is your writing costume of choice?
Yoga trousers and cardigans. Warmth and comfort.
3. What three things appear in every one of your books?
Lies, hope, coffee.
4. Where do you do most of your writing?
There is no single place. I love writing in coffee shops and on trains. My office is just where I keep stuff.
5. What fictional character/s do you identify with?
Nick and Nora Charles from Dashiell Hammett’s novel The Thin Man. I want to be them.
6. Lark or owl? What’s your best time for writing?
Owl. I’m not worth a damn in the morning.
7. Who do you share your work in progress with?
My husband, Jack Jewers; my dog, Busby; my cat, Agatha.
8. Silence, whale song, prog rock? What’s the soundtrack for your writing?
Jazz, particularly 1960s instrumental jazz. Spotify thinks Louis Armstrong’s St James Infirmary is my favourite song, and I suppose it is.
9. Which part of the writing process do you like best?
That’s tricky. Plotting is hard, but everything is possible. Writing is hard, but you start to find the beauty there. Editing is easiest, but the most creative part is over by then. So I think the second draft is probably the part I enjoy most. That’s when it all comes together.
10. What’s your main distraction/procrastination?
The Rightmove house-buying website. I’m going to have to get myself blackballed there.
11. What book are you reading at the moment?
I’m listening to Agatha Christie audiobooks – I find them incredibly soothing. On paper I’m reading Knife Skills for Beginners by Orlando Murrin. It’s a wonderfully funny debut crime novel that comes out later this year.
12. Social media – friend or foe?
Foe. I fear there is little good to be found there.
13. What woman writer/s do you most admire?
Books I return to over and over are by Donna Tartt, Tana French, Emily St John Mandel and Holly Bourne. And there are so many more I could list!
14. What do you see when you look up from your work?
Usually a skinny latte.
15. How do you tackle writer’s block?
I take a break – sometimes as much as a week – in which I’m not allowed to attempt to write. When I do pick up my manuscript again I change something big: I go forward or back in time, I change a character, I alter my outline. In other words, I try to figure out what’s stopping me, and I fix it.
16. What is your writing beverage of choice?
See question 14.
17. What has changed most in your work as you’ve become more experienced?
I write more slowly now, and that’s terribly annoying. Also I write longer sentences. At the start I had quite a truncated writing style, and now I understand the need to mix sentence lengths.
18. What’s your secret cultural indulgence?
I love going to the theatre, and since the pandemic ended I’ve been going more than I used to. I find I want to experience art with other people around me. I am by habit a separatist, so wanting to be around other people is a very odd sensation.
19. What single thing would make your writing life better?
Never reading reviews. Good or bad, they get in your head and plant seeds of doubt.
20. What one piece of advice would you give to your younger writing self?
Writing is the one thing you can do well. That, and making cupcakes. But there’s no money in cupcakes. So, write.
AVA GLASS is a novelist who has also worked as a crime reporter and as a spy insider for the UK government. Her gripping spy thrillers in glamourous settings have led to her heroine being dubbed the female ‘heir to James Bond’. Her critically acclaimed debut The Chase is currently in the running for Spy Novel of the Year 2023, and is being made into a TV series by the team behind BBC’s The Night Manager. Her follow-up The Traitor was published on 14 September 2023. Set in the billionaires’ playground of the glamourous French Riviera, the novel follows Emma Makepeace as she goes undercover on a Russian oligarch’s yacht with the task of unmasking a traitor who has been selling British secrets and illegal chemical weapons to the Russians.