A month or so ago now, I was approached to do an interview with AJ, and I lept at the idea, because… well… I love interviews. But this one had something special, because AJ was in the process of releasing Closet Full of Bones, a psycho-thriller that sounds absolutely WONDERFUL (I’ll share more details after the interview). Right away, my interview with AJ was awesome, and it certainly didn’t let me down. Her sense of humor, wittiness, and honest answers made her super fun to talk to, and so make sure you read the interview and then find out more about her book!!
Q: Hi AJ! Thank you so much for spending your time answering questions for us. How would you describe Closet Full of Bones in your own words?
AJ: The book started germinating years ago when a person very close to me was being stalked by an ex. The trauma spread throughout this person’s family and friends. Even coworkers were affected by the strain. There wasn’t a single part of this person’s life that didn’t become tainted. When I had my own stalking incident, the book became a way or purging all those negative feelings onto the page.
Q: In Closet Full of Bones, the main character’s dream has been to open an “artists’ retreat”. Is this a personal dream that you have had? Also, have you ever been to one before, because it seems pretty neat!
AJ: I’m not sure I’d be up for hosting a B&B full of writers or painters, because that would mean I had to make so much coffee and tea and not drink it all myself, and that just seems unfair, but I have entertained the occasional thought of doing some kind of workshop thing once I get over a crippling case of impostor syndrome.
Q: Imposter syndrome!! As someone who desperately wants to write a book, I find it hard to believe that anyone ACTUALLY PUBLISHED, MULTIPLE TIMES, would feel that way. When you were in the process of writing and querying, and even now, how do you deal with that sense of doubt?
AJ: I…don’t deal with it. LOL. I cram it in a box in my head and let it fester there until the fetid gasses build up and explode, and I have a momentary meltdown. Then I need some cake and the cycle begins again.
Q: Your latest book is a much different genre than you wrote before. Why did you decide to change genres?
AJ: I like keeping things fresh, and, after all of the emotional heavy lifting of the last couple of Marnie Baranuik Files stories, stepping into something entirely separate gave me a chance to be free of all the world-building I’d done, and challenge myself in a genre I’ve enjoyed reading for years and years.
Q: Your overall review ratings on Amazon are AMAZINGLY HIGH. What is your reaction when you read rave reviews?
AJ: I hyperventilate and ask my husband or my editor to read it to make sure they’re actually saying nice things, and not being mean and sneaky in a way I’m too wound up to notice. Once that’s been ruled out, I grab my cat and boogie around my office, shaking my booty and mortifying my children.
Q: Hahaha that’s such a perfect reaction 🙂 Have your kids read any of your work?
AJ: No way, man. There’s dirty stuff.
Q: Where do you get inspiration for your writing?
AJ: A lot of the things in CLOSET FULL OF BONES were inspired by real-life events I’ve experienced either first hand or through my friends and family. The thing with the bear trap is mostly wishful thinking, because people keep cutting through my garden.
Q: Are there any authors that you look up to, or try to model your work after?
AJ: I’m pretty short so I look up to everybody. As for authors, I admire Ann Rule, both Kellermans, Stephen King, Patricia Cornwell, and Barbara Michaels.
Q: What does a typical “day in the life” look like?
AJ: Alarm goes off at 4 AM. I swat at it like a cat on quaaludes until my husband shoves me out of bed so he can go back to sleep. I slouch upstairs to make some tea, mutter blackly at whatever manuscript I’ve got going on for a little while, get my kids ready for school, do some research and/or homework (since I’m in school myself pursuing a degree in criminal psychology & behaviour), and harangue my long-suffering editor until it’s time to start making dinner. Afterwards, I might frag some noobs in World of Warcraft, read for pleasure, fail at Sudoku puzzles, or watch TV.
Q: Omg I love Sudoku! I went through a phase where all I got for my birthday were Sudoku puzzles and I would finish them all in a few days…
AJ: I sometimes do NOT finish them, and then I cheat and look at the answers in the back.
Q: Do you think your criminal psychology background helped you to write Closet Full of Bones?
AJ: No, I haven’t been in school long enough for it to affect the book. I wrote Closet Full Of Bones in November 2016, and started school in May 2017. But I’ve always been interested in certain pathologies and I read a lot of True Crime; that likely helped.
Q: When you are writing about character’s emotions during a “scary scene” is it hard to get the wording just right, or does it feel natural how your characters will react?
AJ: I’m a highly paranoid and anxious person, so reaching down to explore fear is never a problem.
Q: How old were you when you took an interest in writing?
AJ: I was a wee little sprout, but the first time I tried writing my own story was at the age of 13.
Q: Do you need to be in a specific mindset to write, or does it come out anywhere?
AJ: I can make myself write in just about any mood, but some of them are a lot more productive than others when it comes to word count or revisions.
Q: Pretend you could never write again. Obviously, it would be devastating for you and all of your readers, but what would you decide to do (either as a career or a hobby) instead?
AJ: I could totally be a farmer or a serial killer or maybe a trophy wife.
Q: To clarify, though, you’re going to try out the serial killer life before trying to be a trophy wife 😉
AJ: Well, I’d probably have to go shopping for nice clothes to be a trophy wife, but serial killers can get away with yoga pants, right? So I’m all set. But I’ll try farming first. I dig a nice, fresh zucchini.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?
AJ: Get in a routine, and stick with it. I hate waking up at 4 in the morning, but I have my most productive stretches when I get my butt in the chair every day, and the routine builds on itself.
Thank you so much for doing this interview! I loved talking to you, and now I want to read your book more than ever! (and be friends because you seem awesome)
Ever since they were children, Gillian Hearth has been her sister Frankie’s guardian, her sounding board, and her best friend. Together, the Hearth sisters quietly bury their secrets and form a formidable team during any crisis. Purchasing the old Blymhill house with the hopes of turning it into an artists’ retreat, the sisters are finally living their dream. But when Frankie’s stable ground is rattled by a vengeful ex-boyfriend, an unstable friend from the past shows up unannounced with delusions of intimacy, and a cold case cop starts sniffing around their door, the sisters are forced to wonder how far they will go to keep their secrets safe.
Gillian discovers that, this time, her fight is about to land her in the crosshairs of a dangerous predator who will use any means necessary to remove her from the equation. With everything she holds dear under threat, Gillian battles to keep her head above water and her skeletons in the closet.
AJ Aalto is the author of the paranormal mystery series The Marnie Baranuik Files. Aalto
is an unrepentant liar and a writer of blathering nonsense offset by factual gore. When not working on her novels, you can find her singing Monty Python songs in the shower, eavesdropping on perfect strangers, stalking her eye doctor, or failing at one of her fruitless hobbies. Generally a fan of anyone with a passion for the ridiculous, she has a weak spot for smug pseudo-intellectuals and narcissistic jerks; readers will find her work littered with flawed monsters and oodles of snark.
AJ cannot say no to a Snickers bar and has been known to swallow her gum.
I hope you enjoyed reading this interview as much as I did, and don’t hesitate to read Closet Full of Bones (which came out May 30th) or any of her other previously published books!! I think CFoB is free with Kindle Unlimited!!!!!
Did you enjoy this interview? Would you read CFoB? Would you rather be a trophy wife or a serial killer?
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