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Group Reading > Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton

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Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton

We will begin reading Little Black Lies By Sharon Bolton. Sharon Bolton will be joining us.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

I know that we are having some technical difficulties with group members due to notifications so I hope that you will check in while you're reading the book without being notified. I have been in touch with someone at Goodreads and they're looking into this. We hope to have this resolved soon.
In any case, I have been hearing a lot of good things about this book. I'm starting on it today. In our last group read, people were putting putting up spoiler questions so others couldn't view them. I would say feel free to do this as well if you feel like raising some questions now.


message 3: by E. (new)

E. | 41 comments I started this book yesterday and am only a few chapters in. The feeling is quite dark, but a very vivid description of the setting. I can truly see it in my mind's eye.


message 4: by Icewineanne (new)

Icewineanne | 81 comments Sorry Ron, just realized that I read the other Little Black Lies - the one by Sandra Block. So confusing! Can't participate because I don't have a copy of the book. The library waiting list is through the roof & the paperback doesn't release here until April 2016. I do have her other books as I mentioned but don't want to read any spoilers for LBL that may arise from the discussion.
Oh well - next time.......


message 5: by E. (new)

E. | 41 comments I did the same thing, got the wrong book!
But Block's book is pretty good. I'm almost finished with it and really like it.
Worlds of difference, though.


message 6: by Icewineanne (new)

Icewineanne | 81 comments Yes, I really liked it too. I really enjoyed the characters & the setting. It made a nice change from the psychological thrillers I've been reading lately. I'm looking forward to reading the "other" LBL next year. I pre-ordered it, so won't be able to discuss it until late April/early May :-(


message 7: by IShita (new)

IShita | 8 comments I am reading an eBook for this one and although I'm just a little over 15% done, I'll admit the book is going pretty good. I like how straight the language is. It's like one of those "no brainstorming" kind of books where you don't have to take a moment to understand what's written. So far, super interesting.

I did not know about this author read along but I love the idea. We did this in one of my other groups so I can vouch for the fact that it is a great! Looking forward to this :)


message 8: by Sharon (new)

Sharon I'm waiting for my library to process this book through their system, but have first dibs on it when it hits the shelves! Hopefully before everyone else on here finishes it, lol!


message 9: by IShita (new)

IShita | 8 comments So I'm a little further in the book and the book doesn't sound much American to me now. Majorly because I read the word "mate" somewhere in there!
Also, I think it's a bit descriptive. I mean, it's enthralling and all but it's a little too focused on explaining a point to the t. That's a little off putting for me- however I am not abandoning the book. But with crime/mystery genre I expect to get a fast moving story that doesn't pay so much attention to useless or unnecessary details.
Going good otherwise. Not as fast as I'd like but kinda interesting.


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

I've read about 14% of the book right now and I'm enjoying it.


message 11: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Bolton (sjbolton) | 35 comments Good morning, everyone, (it's morning in the UK) and thanks for choosing Little Black Lies as your current read. I thought perhaps I'd start by telling you something of how the book came about. Some years ago, there was a horrific road traffic accident on the outskirts of Oxford, near where I live. A mother was driving several children (her own and those of some of her friends) home from a party when she crashed. She survived but the children were either killed or badly injured. What struck me most about this dreadful story was how a life can be shattered in an instant, and how a perfectly ordinary woman can be forced to live the rest of her life with close to unbearable guilt. That woman became Rachel in my book. Of course, Little Black Lies, is Catrin's story primarily, but Rachel and her dreadful guilt hover in the shadows throughout. I'm writing this week (up against a deadline) but I'll try and pop in every few hours to answer any questions group members may have. Bye for now, and thanks again.


message 12: by Icewineanne (new)

Icewineanne | 81 comments Hi Sharon, I noticed that on your early works, you were using your initials with your last name and now you've changed to using your first name instead. Just curious what brought about the change?


message 13: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Bolton (sjbolton) | 35 comments Icewineanne wrote: "Hi Sharon, I noticed that on your early works, you were using your initials with your last name and now you've changed to using your first name instead. Just curious what brought about the change?"

Long story, not necessarily an interesting one, but the attached blog post covers it in some detail. http://www.sjbolton.com/blog.php?id=132


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Hello Sharon and welcome!


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

Welcome to the group read Sharon. Great insight into how Little Black Lies was written.


message 16: by Jean (new)

Jean | 215 comments Thanks for the explanation on why you chose to use your given name, Sharon! I found it interesting, as well as the background on how you came to write Little Black Lies. I read it last month and really enjoyed it. I also really liked If Snow Hadn't Fallen as well as the first two Lacey Flint novels. How much of your inspiration comes from the setting? It seems to be such a significant piece in your works in setting the mood and in making the characters who they are.


message 17: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Bolton (sjbolton) | 35 comments Jean wrote: "Thanks for the explanation on why you chose to use your given name, Sharon! I found it interesting, as well as the background on how you came to write Little Black Lies. I read it last month and re..."

Actually, a huge amount. Quite often a book starts for me with a particular place. I get a real buzz from seeing places that are beautiful on the surface and asking myself, what's going on underneath? What's wriggling through the undergrowth? My Lacey Flint novels are mainly set in the industrial east end of London, but that has a strange, desolate beauty for me too. One of the most frequent criticisms of my writing (and it's referenced in the comments above, I see!) is that I can be 'too descriptive'. Whilst I understand this style of writing is not to everyone's taste, it's something I will never change. A book is slightly empty, for me, if it brings no strong sense of place with it.


message 18: by Jean (new)

Jean | 215 comments I like that answer! I also like how you tie in all the albatross imagery in Little Black Lies, which also draws on the Faulklands setting.


message 19: by Icewineanne (new)

Icewineanne | 81 comments I haven't read any of your Lacey Flint series so I just purchased the first book, Now You See Me. I thought that it might be best to read the series in order. I just love descriptive writing. It puts the reader into the location, travelling with the main character through the story.
Just wondering what's easier to write, the series or standalones? Which do you prefer?


message 20: by Icewineanne (new)

Icewineanne | 81 comments Sharon wrote: "Icewineanne wrote: "Hi Sharon, I noticed that on your early works, you were using your initials with your last name and now you've changed to using your first name instead. Just curious what brough..."

Love the explanation! Sharon is a terrific name and much more memorable than SJ.
I always find initials difficult to search online. It depends on how they were entered into the search engine.
Thanks for the blog link, look forward to reading your other postings!


message 21: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Bolton (sjbolton) | 35 comments Jean wrote: "I like that answer! I also like how you tie in all the albatross imagery in Little Black Lies, which also draws on the Faulklands setting."
Thank you. That came about because one of the ideas I wanted to explore with Little Black Lies was that of maritime mythology and culture. I spent months researching the history of sea faring and whaling in particular, and naturally came across the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, one of the most famous sea-related poems written. I was immediately struck by how powerful a symbol of guilt the dead albatross was, and as the albatross is a relatively common bird in the Falkland Islands, I couldn't not use it.


message 22: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Bolton (sjbolton) | 35 comments Icewineanne wrote: "I haven't read any of your Lacey Flint series so I just purchased the first book, Now You See Me. I thought that it might be best to read the series in order. I just love descriptive writing. It pu..."

For me, standalones are much easier. I think one has to write the sort of books one loves to read, and I've always loved the completeness of standalones. I never intended Lacey to be a series character but when I got to the end of Now You See Me, I felt I'd only begun to scratch the surface of her character. I've loved writing the four Lacey books (and two short stories) but she and I are taking a well-earned break from each other for a while now.


message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

I usually ask this question at the group reads and get a different answer.
In Who Was That Lady, which was the biography of a pulp fiction writer named Craig Rice, the author said that Ms. Rice wrote by the seat of her pants by locking herself in a room and after a few days, she was done. What is your writing process? In addition, I would like to learn about the thought and writing process which goes into your descriptions. I think this would be great to understand especially when reading other books such as ones by Tana French, who uses a lot of descriptions in her writing.
Sorry if my question was long.


message 24: by Christine (new)

Christine (clt04) | 126 comments Hi Sharon, I absolutely love your writing. Now You See Me was my #1 read of 2014 and Little Black Lies may be the best of 2015. I also loved If Snow Hadn't Fallen. I think you are vastly under-rated and under-read for the quality of your work. I am thinking of writers like Patterson and Grisham who pull in 40,000 to a half million ratings for their books on Goodreads. They aren't better than you and, say, Val McDermid. Do you think this has to do with difficulty Brit authors seem to have in breaking into the US market? Can't your publisher help you out here?


message 25: by Carla (new)

Carla (carla1957) I am starting tonight. I saved this one for the group read. I am looking forward to it.


message 26: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Bolton (sjbolton) | 35 comments Ron wrote: "I usually ask this question at the group reads and get a different answer.
In Who Was That Lady, which was the biography of a pulp fiction writer named Craig Rice, the author said that Ms. Rice w..."


I think a thorough answer could be a whole lot longer! My writing process is akin to most people's working days. My son goes to school, I walk the dog, then I sit down at my desk and write until I run out of steam or until my son gets home. I publish a book a year, typically starting work on the research and planning in the Autumn, getting the first draft submitted by end of June, then using the summer for edits and proof reading. Occasionally, I'm asking to write something else, such as a novella, and that can make the timescale very tight. I'm not sure I can explain the process behind descriptions, to be honest. They come quite naturally to me. Sometimes I use photographs, but quite often I write with 'my eyes closed', just imagining how a particular place might make me feel.


message 27: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Bolton (sjbolton) | 35 comments Christine wrote: "Hi Sharon, I absolutely love your writing. Now You See Me was my #1 read of 2014 and Little Black Lies may be the best of 2015. I also loved If Snow Hadn't Fallen. I think you are vastly under-rate..."

Thank you, Christine, but please don't feel too sorry for me. I earn a very nice living from doing a job I love. I consider myself very lucky. That said, British authors are not terribly popular in the US. Comments on Amazon often refer to my books being 'too British'. Not quite sure what that's supposed to mean! I'm sure my publishers (St Martins Press) are doing their best, but they are up against the sheer numbers of books published in the US every year. It's an incredibly competitive field.


message 28: by Christine (new)

Christine (clt04) | 126 comments Thanks for answering that, Sharon. BTW, no such thing as "too British" in thriller books. And I am from Minnesota. Are you allowed to give us a little hint about what your next book will be about?


message 29: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Bolton (sjbolton) | 35 comments Christine wrote: "Thanks for answering that, Sharon. BTW, no such thing as "too British" in thriller books. And I am from Minnesota. Are you allowed to give us a little hint about what your next book will be about?"

A very dark love story, between a convicted serial killer and the lawyer who campaigns for his release.


message 30: by Christine (new)

Christine (clt04) | 126 comments Ooooooh, OK!!!!!!!


message 31: by Jean (new)

Jean | 215 comments Sharon, when you start a new book, do you have the whole plot in mind, or does it evolve as you go? For instance, in Little Black Lies, you have basically three suspects that we hear from. Did you have each one's story in your head before you sat down to write, or did the story just sort of write itself?


message 32: by Jean (new)

Jean | 215 comments Another question - this one will be intentionally vague, as I don't want to spoil anything for others who may not have read particular books. In a couple of your thrillers, your perpetrator appears to get away with his/her crimes. Do you do that with the intention of bringing that character back in a future work, or do you simply like the "edge," if you will, the sense that there is not always justice or resolution for the survivors? Or what is your intention? (without specifying the novel or characters so as not to give away anything for those who don't know those specific works - and there may be some that I haven't read yet).


message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

Sharon wrote: "Ron wrote: "I usually ask this question at the group reads and get a different answer.
In Who Was That Lady, which was the biography of a pulp fiction writer named Craig Rice, the author said tha..."


Great answer. Thank you.


message 34: by Fictionophile (new)

Fictionophile  (fictionophile) | 9 comments I have long been a fan of Sharon Bolton and have enjoyed all of her work to date.
I have a funny little story to tell about my review of "Little Black Lies". I went on Google to find a picture of a dog that looked like Queenie as Sharon described her. I found one that fit the bill and included it in my review. Then I posted the link to my review on Twitter and Sharon saw it. She contacted me to let me know that it WAS Queenie! What are the chances of that happening???


message 35: by Christine (last edited Aug 27, 2015 04:40PM) (new)

Christine (clt04) | 126 comments I saw that dog, Lynne. Very cute! That is unbelievable that you found the actual Queenie! You should buy a few lottery tickets, lol.

Does Sharon own Queenie in real life?


message 36: by Fictionophile (last edited Aug 27, 2015 04:48PM) (new)

Fictionophile  (fictionophile) | 9 comments Queenie belongs to a friend of hers. Sharon didn't realize that Queenie's photo was even on the internet!

It is obvious that Sharon described her perfectly!


message 37: by Christine (new)

Christine (clt04) | 126 comments That is crazy cool, Lynne. Thanks for sharing that!!


message 38: by Melissa (last edited Aug 27, 2015 05:26PM) (new)

Melissa (Mel’s Bookshelf) (melsbookshelf) Thanks for the invite Christine! :)

Hi Sharon,

I'm a big fan! Water and boats tend to play a big part in most of your books, and I noticed you have a boat as your twitter header :) Would I be right in assuming the water is a big part of your life too? Please don't tell me you go swimming in the River Thames too?? :)


message 39: by Jean (new)

Jean | 215 comments I love that Queenie story!


message 40: by Freda (new)

Freda Malone Hi everyone. Thought I'd drop by (Thanks for the heads up Christine).

I LOVED Little Black Lies. If I could add stars for this book, I would. Sharon, you are really clever. There are two things that stood out with me in the end. How the child got lost and returned, brilliant! It is only human to think the worst first. The ending, *gasp* I just had to reread the last couple of sentences. Had a feeling and was right but the execution of it was just phenomenal!

Guilt is a powerful emotion and leads to different types of behavior. A child dying at the hands of another, whether accidental or recklessly is not talked about a lot. I've noticed how you, Sharon, touch on subjects that others don't think of of don't want to write about. That is why I like your books so much.

How much research goes into your books? Is it a lot of what you already know or have experienced or do you have to do a lot of leg work such as visiting the setting, meeting with people of specialties or using google?


Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice* (sandyj21) Hi Sharon firstly thank you for a wonderful read in Little Black Lies. like Christine, this is my favourite book so far for 2015. It was a very emotional read for me. Was it a very emotional experience writing it? Thank you for sharing how the plot came about.

You have a really damaged cast with your characters in this novel - you have two women, both dealing with extreme grief, each in their own way, one man dealing with that same grief in yet another fashion, and an ex-soldier suffering from PTSD - any and all of whom could have been guilty of the murders of the missing children. What made you decide on your final outcome? (sorry I am trying not to give anything away to anyone who has not yet finished the book)
And Jean has already asked my other question re: do you know who is guilty before you start to write, or do you just let it unfold as you go along...?
Which brings me to another question, have you ever started writing with a particular outcome in mind, then changed your mind as you went along?
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions - it is greatly appreciated. 8:D


message 42: by Patricia (new)

Patricia | 3 comments Hello Sharon. First, thank you for your time to read and answer questions on this thread. I wanted to ask a general question - do you have a favorite character from any of your books? and/or do you have a favorite book that you have written?


message 43: by IShita (new)

IShita | 8 comments I haven't been getting the notifications of this group. I missed out on a lot but I think I read the interesting parts, lol.

Lynne, that was a crazy story! So cool!

First off, this is my first Sharon Bolton and I love it! I've been staying up on early mornings just to read another page. It's crazy. I love the smoothness of the book. Not very often can writers pull off interweaving romance or any other kind of relationship with crime (and I don't mean crimes of passion here) but she completely nailed it.

That scene with the Sharks? Really effective. Albeit it didn't touch me as strong as some others, it did leave an impression on me. I can understand how something like that could overshadow you entirely. It's really sad. I loved chapters 22 & 23. Wow. That last line gave me chills!

Sharon, that's an amazing story about how you came up with the idea and Rachel's character. My heart goes out to both the women. I agree with you about standalones. I never really thought of them that way- being complete. I always took them for books where I can start anywhere and I wouldn't have to worry about a back story or the character development. I didn't really have a question for you. I guess I am so enthralled by the book I can think of nothing I have to ask. Besides, anything that I did want to, it's already been asked. Although, I do have something I want to ask now that I've read your story about "Rachel". You've portrayed the character of a mother (Catrin) who lost all her children so perfectly, I wonder what went into that in the way of research? Did you talk to those mothers from the accident you witnessed? I mean, being a mother, I'm sure you could imagine what it must feel like but even so, one cannot know what it is like for those women to actually live through it. I just turned 20, I'm pretty sure I can't understand even as much as you could but being a woman I can say it's got to be devastating. I don't have kids but I can't even conceive the idea of anything like that ever happening to them. I've seen women going through it, in fact, my own grandmother has to go throw it! My mom always tells me how hard it must be and I think I can sympathize with my mom on that but how can one say how it must really be like? Maybe I'm just overthinking but this hit me about Cat and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it.

I'll be looking forward to further works from you and reading your previous stuff. Cheers!


message 44: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Bolton (sjbolton) | 35 comments Jean wrote: "Sharon, when you start a new book, do you have the whole plot in mind, or does it evolve as you go? For instance, in Little Black Lies, you have basically three suspects that we hear from. Did you ..."

My stories never write themselves, I'm afraid. If only! My plots are very complex (every year I say to myself, I'm going to write a simple book, but it never works out that way!) and so I need to do quite a lot of planning before I start. I've got a pretty good idea of how it's going to pan out. That's not to say I have all the answers, or that things won't change as I go along, just that I do need at least an outline road map in my head.


message 45: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Bolton (sjbolton) | 35 comments Jean wrote: "Another question - this one will be intentionally vague, as I don't want to spoil anything for others who may not have read particular books. In a couple of your thrillers, your perpetrator appears..."

Hmmn, tricky one. Apart from the one that I know you're thinking of, I'm really not sure which books you're thinking of. I thought all my villains got their just deserts. I do feel very strongly that I owe my reader a resolution, a solution to the mystery and some sense of completion, or justice being done. That's not the same, though, as having all the loose ends tied up. I think even the most meticulous drafter of plots can afford to leave a few loose ends. I'm not sure we can take this 'vague question and vague answer' session much further in public. You might have to private message me via Facebook or my website. ;-)


message 46: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Bolton (sjbolton) | 35 comments Lynne wrote: "Queenie belongs to a friend of hers. Sharon didn't realize that Queenie's photo was even on the internet!

It is obvious that Sharon described her perfectly!"


Or maybe she's just a unique little dog. My friend was one of the first people to read Little Black Lies. Every morning for a week, out dog walking, she'd give me updates, but never a mention of the brilliance of the writing, the originality of the story, the depth of characterisation. All she could talk about was that blessed dog making her literary debut!


message 47: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Bolton (sjbolton) | 35 comments Melissa wrote: "Thanks for the invite Christine! :)

Hi Sharon,

I'm a big fan! Water and boats tend to play a big part in most of your books, and I noticed you have a boat as your twitter header :) Would I be rig..."


I have swum in the Thames, but a long time ago, not in central London and I wouldn't do it again! I once worked for the National Rivers Authority Thames Region, and got to know the river Thames very well. I think my love of it (and awe of it) probably stems from those days. On the whole, I think most British people have a love of the sea, probably because most of us live relatively close to it and because of our heritage as a sea faring nation. Being married to a very keen sailor helps too.


message 48: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Bolton (sjbolton) | 35 comments Freda wrote: "Hi everyone. Thought I'd drop by (Thanks for the heads up Christine).

I LOVED Little Black Lies. If I could add stars for this book, I would. Sharon, you are really clever. There are two things t..."


Thank you, Freda, that's all very kind. As to the research, I do quite a lot, but not too much. (I think a lot of writers feel that endless research and fact checking can make up for a lack of basic story telling skills) So, once I know what I'm going to write about, I probably spend two or three months reading around my subject. That usually teaches me most of what I need to know, and helps me form the plot at the same time. After that, it comes out of my head. This is a story, at the end of the day, meant to be exciting and to entertain and sometimes too much factual stuff can get in the way of that. Once the book is more or less finished, I have a team of experts who come in and check everything out.


message 49: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Bolton (sjbolton) | 35 comments Ishita wrote: "I haven't been getting the notifications of this group. I missed out on a lot but I think I read the interesting parts, lol.

Lynne, that was a crazy story! So cool!

First off, this is my first Sh..."


Thank you for all your kind words, Ishita, they are very much appreciated. As to portraying Catrin's grief - no, I would never consider trying to interview someone who had really lost children. That would feel terribly insensitive and intrusive, and not necessarily too helpful. Relatively few people, I think, can properly articulate deep grief. I read several books by grieving parents and they did help but ultimately, I think for the experience to be convincing to the reader, it had to be my own, even if that own was only imagined. I'm not sure if this makes any sort of sense, so let me try again: No two people will have the same experience of deep grief, so no one will read the one I offer and say, that isn't correct. All they can say is, that isn't quite how it happened for me. If I've done my job properly, though, it should have enough to resonate with every reader, whether they have first hand experience similar to Catrin's or not. Best I can do, I'm afraid. You're asking me to explain something that, ultimately, can't be explained. At the end of the day, no writer really knows how she/he does it.


message 50: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Bolton (sjbolton) | 35 comments Pat wrote: "Hello Sharon. First, thank you for your time to read and answer questions on this thread. I wanted to ask a general question - do you have a favorite character from any of your books? and/or do y..."

That's a bit like asking me if I have a favourite child! I suppose Lacey Flint is probably the character I feel closest to, but that's because I've spent most time with her. I'm not sure she's necessarily my favourite, though. I suppose if I absolutely had to pick, I would probably go for Awakening, my second novel, and its protagonist, Clara Benning. Possibly because both were such a joy to write.


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