Meet the author: Ali Land

Good Me Bad Me book

This week we're introducing you to debut author Ali Land and giving away 75 copies of her psychological thriller, Good Me Bad Me. Apply for your copy and find out about Ali's more unusual choice of writing companion…

This giveaway is sponsored by Michael Joseph

About the book

Good Me Bad Me is set to be one of the most extraordinary, controversial and explosive literary debuts of 2017.

Annie's mother is a serial killer. The only way the 15-year-old can make her mother stop is to get the police involved – but out of sight doesn't mean out of mind. The secrets of her past won't let her sleep, even though she has a new identity, Milly.

Milly must confront her past as she prepares to face her mother at her trial, and finds herself unable to get the fresh start she wants. After all, she is her mother's daughter.

Read an extract.

Praise for Good Me Bad Me

“This book is a work of twisted genius. It is going to be huge. Watch out for Ali Land.” – Bryony Gordon

“Milly's voice is gripping and shocking. This is a book you will want to discuss with everyone you know.” – Claire Douglas, author of The Sisters and Local Girl Missing

“A triumph of tension. I doubt I'll ever sleep again.” – Cathy Rentzenbrink

About the author

Ali Land

After graduating from university with a degree in mental health, Ali Land spent a decade working as a child and adolescent mental health nurse in hospitals and schools in the UK and Australia. Ali is now a full-time writer and lives in a creative warehouse community in west London. Good Me, Bad Me has been translated into more than twenty languages.

Meet Ali Land

Can you tell us about your book?

Good Me Bad Me is a psychological drama narrated by 15-year-old Annie whose mother is a prolific child serial killer. The book begins with Annie handing her mother over to the police and being given a new identity, Milly. She's placed with a foster family and begins being prepared by a team of experts to give evidence against her mother in court.

While Milly looks like she's doing well in her new life, her dark and damaged internal thought process is exposed through stream-of-consciousness in the narrative. The reader is exposed to Milly's psychological ties with her mother and can hear the goading voices Milly hears. Can Milly be good? Or is she destined to be very, very bad, like her mother?

Is research a big part of your writing process?

For my debut novel Good Me Bad Me, I developed the basis of the story years ago through my experience as a children's mental health nurse. Many young people I looked after were haunted by the notion that their genes might dictate their path in life, rather than just influencing it. The rest of the book formed as I delved deeper into the darkest parts of my imagination.

My second book is going to be set on an island in Scotland, and I want to use the environment as a vehicle for exhibiting the emotional landscape in the characters I'm writing. I'm planning to spend a couple of weeks on Islay researching and writing. Once I have the environment locked in, I'll let my brain off the leash to do the rest.

Do you have any peculiar writing rituals or habits?

Is it peculiar to light a candle before beginning to write? If so, then yes! I find the warmth and flickering of the flame comforting, a deliciously scented yet silent friend sitting next to me at my desk.

I also break up stretches of writing by listening to certain songs that I feel represent the character or environment I'm writing about. Music and poetry are great tools in unlocking descriptive channels in my mind and help me to breathe life into my characters.

I find the warmth and flickering of a candle's flame comforting, a deliciously scented yet silent friend sitting with me at my desk.

Could you describe the room that you write in?

I live in a basement flat in the heart of bohemian Ladbroke Grove in west London. I write on an old farmhouse style table which is positioned in my living room underneath a window that faces the street. I like natural light wherever possible and also that I can see lots of people walking past but most of them don't see me. Could I sound any more creepy?! I have a lovely plant with red flowers on my desk and always at least one candle burning.

My creative space is really important to me. I've travelled a lot and collected various artifacts and talismans along the way which are situated around my writing space. If I feel stuck I'll take a break and pick up one of my favourite things to relax me and help spark ideas.

I have books surrounding my desk and various pieces of vintage clothing hung from the fireplace and doorframes. It's a bit like living in a quirky, antique shop which shape-shifts as I add items or move existing things around.

What are you reading now?

I tend to dual read, and at the moment I'm reading The Natural Way Of Things by Charlotte Wood which is a dark, confrontational tale about control and misogyny, involving a group of women who awake from a drugged sleep to find themselves being held captive in the middle of the Australian desert. The second book I'm reading is Soldier Spy by Tom Marcus, an exposé on the inner workings of MI5.

What is the last book you bought someone as a gift?

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. It's such a lovely, cheerful book with a big heart, and offers great tips on how to harness creativity and find the courage to say yes more.

What advice would you offer to aspiring writers?

To read their work out loud. It's such a useful tool in assessing pace and rhythm. And don't overshare work while it's still in progress. Tuck yourself away and write what your instinct is telling you to write, not what you think will be popular.

Book giveaway

To apply to win one of 75 copies of Good Me Bad Me, simply fill out the form below. This giveaway closes on Monday 23 January.

We ask all winners to share their thoughts about the book on the discussion thread. Anyone who has read Good Me Bad Me can post on the thread. Everyone who posts their feedback by 6 March will be entered into a draw to win a £100 Love2shop voucher.