The Lies I Tell… A Q&A with Joel Hames

Hi everyone! A different approach to interviewing this time, I hope you enjoy it? Instead of a First Drafts With interview, or an agent/author interview, I’m quizzing Joel Hames with questions that directly relate to his newest release, The Lies I Tell.

Over to you, Joel…

1) Where did the idea come from and how did you first begin to flesh it out?

I’ve always liked the notion of the hunter becoming the hunted. And then there’s the idea that certain people can’t seek help from the usual places. If someone’s coming for you or me, we might contact the authorities. If someone’s coming for a thief and a cybercriminal, they won’t be able to. They’re forced to fall back on their own resources and intelligence. This is what happens to Lisa, and everything stems from that. It also heightens the paranoia and tension when you think you’ve get everything sewn up, when Lisa thinks she’s completely safe, and yet somehow, her enemy is still getting to her. It means she has to question absolutely everything and everyone around her.
I’ll add the fact that we fell victim to identity fraud of the change-of-address variety around a decade ago and I’ve seen plenty of attempts at the invoice scam; when you add the “veracity” element of social media, the subject becomes irresistible.

2) How did you create your main character Lisa? Did you enjoy writing her?

I loved writing Lisa. I wanted someone you knew you should hate but couldn’t help loving, and I made sure I threw everything I could at the relationship she has with her son, and her own childhood, to put the scenes of her present-day activities into some kind of context. In particular, Lisa’s life in Leeds and her memories of her sister almost took over, and at times I felt I could write another book just centred around them!

3) The book is different from your Sam Williams series. What made you decide to tackle the subject you chose?

I felt like a change. I haven’t finished with Sam Williams – he will be back – but I wanted to write a psychological thriller, and I wanted a “villain” as the central character, and these things alone ruled out Sam. I’ve mentioned the interest in identity theft above – but at the same time I needed someone relatable, which meant a proper, developed back story and a person who felt real, likeable and hateable at the same time. Everything came together in Lisa.

4) What was your research process like? Did any of the research surprise you at any point? Did you refer to it during the process of writing?

I always research my locations pretty thoroughly, and I spent a lot of time discovering the landscape of Orford Ness so that I could describe it for Lisa’s final showdown. I had to do quite a lot of research for the technical element of the book, because getting things like the dark web and the deep web mixed up will really annoy people who actually know the difference, and cybercrime in general is such a big thing that getting it right was absolutely essential. I also spent a lot of time looking into blockchain for some elements that didn’t make it into the final edit of the book, but may well appear as a short companion piece at some point.

5) How does your writing process for the Sam Williams series differ from the writing process for The Lies I Tell?

The plotting and note-making was pretty similar, in that I am hugely thorough with my planning and always and up with 30 pages or so of plot skeleton to work with. There were, however, at least two significant differences: with The Lies I Tell I was dealing with dual timelines, which meant I had to ensure that the right revelations occurred at the right moments even more so than usual; and with Sam, I’ve got a fully developed central character and a host of others with existing back stories through the series, going right back to The Art of Staying Dead, the three-novel Dead North trilogy, plus two novellas. Lisa and her friends and family – and enemies – all had to be created from nothing.

6) Lastly, do you use Scrivener or MS Word? Which do you prefer and why?

MS Word. I tried Scrivener for a few months back in 2016 and did write Victims (a Sam Williams novella) using it, but I have my own set-in-stone ways of planning and plotting and making notes, and adapting my process from the combination of OneNote and MS Word to Scrivener seemed to be time-consuming with little reward. If I was starting my writing career now from scratch I’d probably give Scrivener another look, but for now, it’s Word all the way.

Thank you for your time Joel, and for stopping by the blog to discuss your latest novel.

Bio: A Londoner in exile, Joel Hames lives in rural Lancashire, England, with his wife and two daughters.
His works of fiction include the bestselling Sam Williams trilogy and the psychological thriller The Lies I Tell.
When not spending time with his family, Joel likes to eat, cook, play the piano, and make up excuses to avoid walking the dog. There’s the MMA thing, too, but he doesn’t like to show off.

Joel’s website can be found at where you can find out more about the writer and the books, and sign up to his email newsletter.

If you want to know what Joel has planned for the future, what he thinks right now, or just stalk him a little, you can find him on Facebook at or Twitter at @joel_hames. Joel has never seen the word “Joel” appear as frequently as it does right here, and wholeheartedly approves.

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