A.D. Hay - Gripping Whodunnits With an Intriguing Cast of Characters

A.D. Hay - Gripping Whodunnits With an Intriguing Cast of Characters

A.D. Hay is a passionate bibliophile and can usually be found reading a book, and that book will most likely be a murder mystery. At eight, she wrote her first play. She was super secretive about the script and wrote it out by hand in an HB pencil and gave each actor lines to memorize instead of a whole script. Fast-forward thirty-plus years, Amelia is the author of Missing, the first book in the James Lalonde mystery series. The Candidate is the first book in the Rookie Reporter Mystery series. When not absorbed in a gripping page-turner or writing her James Lalonde series, Amelia loves to travel around Europe, drink tea, rosé, and eat pizza. She is obsessed with journalism, art history and is a closet religious thriller fan. Amelia was born in Brisbane, Australia, and spent the last ten years living in London, where she lives with her husband, Roland.

Please give us a short introduction to what The Candidate is about.

Rookie reporter James Lalonde is bored. And he isn’t a journalist. He’s an all-round dogs-body to editor-in-chief Rhys Kelly. But his luck has finally changed. After eavesdropping on the morning editorial meeting, James learns he has his first-ever story. There’s one catch. If the story gets too complicated, it will be taken away from him and given to another journalist with more experience. Sure it’s a boring interview with the soon-to-be sworn-in magistrate, Albert Harrington, but it finally gets him out of his six-month slump as an editorial research assistant. He finally has a chance to prove himself.

The following day, James turns up to his interview with Albert to discover a trail of blood smeared through Albert’s house, an empty safe, and the murder weapon on the floor, but no body. Detective Anwar Khan turns up at the crime scene, puts two and two together, and believes James murdered the controversial magistrate.

Can James clear his name and write his first-ever story before his editor takes it away?

What inspired you to write this story? Was there anything that made you want to tackle this?

On a hot summer’s day on June 12, 2019, I decided to write a short story using Rory’s Story Cubes. My murder mystery novella, The Candidate, is the result of a roll of those die, almost all of them. One of the dice had a flower, which I forgot to include in the story. Unless you associate flowers with a hospital visit, but that’s a stretch.

As I cast my eyes over the die with the walking cane, arrow, file, earth, and liquid, I envisioned the first scene in The Candidate. At the time, Albert was merely a nameless old man staggering through a pristine-white hallway after being stabbed in the chest with an arrow. After this, I imagined the scene he left behind him. A pool of blood on the floor, splatter on the antique globe, and a bodkin arrow lying on the floor next to a walking cane.

These scenes came to mind in quick succession. And I added the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and the mediaeval amour in Albert’s home study because that’s my dream office scenario.

At the time, I cast the story idea aside to finish editing and publishing, Missing, the first book in the James Lalonde series. Next, I started working on book two in the series and the second edition of Missing.

One year later, while we were all in lockdown, writing became difficult. Creatively, I struggled to function. Then an idea came to mind, and I loved it. So I decided to write a series of novellas in James Lalonde’s first year as a journalist, starting with his first-ever case. That’s when I remembered the idea and scenes I documented after using the story cubes.

During fourteen days, I created an outline for the story, created the characters with strong motivations, and established the timelines for the story. After that, I put the outline aside, perhaps out of fear. Then, nine months later, I started writing, revising, and editing this story, finally reaching the finish line. Today, I look back at that journey, and I’m glad I took my time and wrote the Candidate.


Tell us more about James Lalonde. What makes him tick?

In the Candidate, you meet James at the start of his journalistic career. He’s a research assistant for Rhys Kelly, the editor of the Northampton Tribune, and he’s desperate for his first-ever story. James is so desperate that he leaps at the first opportunity that comes his way.

Why did you pick a rookie reporter as your main protagonist?

I chose a reporter as the protagonist of my series for practical reasons. For the story to work, I needed an excuse for a character to ask questions and not raise further questions by the subjects of the interviews. A journalist seemed to be the right fit. On top of that, I wanted to avoid writing with the police procedural sub-genre.

Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?

It’s not a skill, but I love playing Animal Crossing, and I’ve started a YouTube Channel where I stream the gameplay. And I also love playing Cluedo on Nintendo Switch; it’s got a great one-player mode where you can play with a few A.I.


Actually, the next question reveals a secret skill. Off late, I’ve been a bit nervous about sharing it, so here goes. In the last year, I’ve started designing book covers for other people after years of designing my own. At the moment, I design premade book covers in the cozy mystery and romantic comedy genres.

Interesting cover. Please tell us more about its design.

This cover is designed by me. The English manor house on the cover looks similar to Albert’s place in the Candidate. I loved the exterior architecture of the building and the gate at the front of the property. It was perfect for my story, so I couldn’t resist purchasing the license to use the image on my cover.

Do any characters ever take off on their own tangent, refusing to do what you had planned for them?

No, I’ve never had a character do their own thing—the reason why this doesn’t happen because of how I chose to write my stories. I’m a heavy outliner, and the discovery of the story happens long before I start writing the first draft.

Why mysteries? What drew you to the genre?

It’s the puzzle aspect of mysteries that I enjoy the most. Often, I gravitate to true crime documentaries, video podcasts and the old ITV Miss Marple series. I’ve tried writing other genres outside the Mystery, Thriller and Suspense categories, but those genres don’t hold my interest as long as a mystery. I think it comes down to my natural curiosity about why people make certain choices in the moment when other options are available. For example, Albert’s killer chose to commit a crime instead of walking away. The why behind that choice fascinates me.

What did you have the most fun with when writing The Candidate?

The research is the most fun part when writing any murder mystery, especially checking the realism of the story, like travel times between places and whether you can drive with an injury similar to Albert’s. I particularly enjoy the medical research, and I did a bit of a dive into the battle of Northampton, which wasn’t necessary for the story, but it was fun. Regarding The Candidate, this story is heavily outlined, and I’ve found that I enjoy creating the story phase of writing, as opposed to putting fingers on the keyboard aspect of writing.

Which of your characters was the most challenging to create?

The villain was challenging to create. Not all buy guys are; usually, I can see the world through their eyes and perhaps understand their motives but not agree. Understanding this particular villain was difficult. I’m laid-back and chill, so it takes a lot for me to get angry. But I can’t say anything more than that; otherwise, I’ll spoil my story, and no one likes that.

Where do you go for inspiration?

Inspiration can come from anywhere. I know that’s cliche, but it’s true. I tend to read or listen to a lot of audiobooks, watch true crime documentaries, and listen to podcasts, and inspiration naturally finds me—it’s not something I try to force. So far, I have an idea for the next story while I’m halfway through writing or editing the previous story.

Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?

I’m not sure if this is interesting, but I use an A.I.-based programme, Natural Reader, to read my story to me before I start writing the next section. As I listen to the A.I. voice, I edit the sentence structure and often cycle back and foreshadow elements earlier in the book. The A.I. voices are becoming more realistic over time, and I like to use a voice with a different accent than mine. Because I’m Australian, I like to use either a British or American voice.


What are you working on right now?

In November, I published Duplicity, the second book in the James Lalonde Mystery series. After that, I started writing The Locked Room, a locked-room mystery featuring James Lalonde. It’s a reward for my loyal mailing list subscribers and ties in with Duplicity. But I will also make the story available in eBook and Paperback to purchase on all ebook and book retailers.

Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?

You can find more information about me and my books on my website, authoradhay.com, or you can join my email list if you want my free short story, the Lawn, and enjoy getting monthly newsletters from authors.