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Looking for the hottest read this Summer? Look no further! To celebrate the launch of A Slow Fire Burning, the addictive no. 1 bestseller by Paula Hawkins, we’re offering one lucky winner a £500 Secret Escapes voucher, a pair of first-class Gatwick Express tickets and a copy of A Slow Fire Burning – the ultimate package to escape the humdrum and immerse yourself in an intense thriller you won’t want to put down!

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Exclusive - Listen to an extract of A Slow Fire Burning

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Disclaimer: please note this excerpt contains adult language as written in the book

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A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

The SCORCHING new thriller from the No.1 bestselling author of THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN and INTO THE WATER

Three women, connected by one brutal crime.
Three women, determined to right the wrongs done to them.
Three women, with everything to hide.
When it comes to revenge, even good people are capable of terrible things.
But only one person killed Daniel Sutherland.
How long can their secrets smoulder, before someone gets burned?

“Twists and turns like a great thriller should” Lee Child

“Grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let you go” Kate Mosse

“An addictive whodunnit” Evening Standard

“Paula Hawkins is a genius” Lisa Jewell

You can buy the book from Waterstones today.

Meet the author

Paula Hawkins wearing a purple shirt

PAULA HAWKINS worked as a journalist for fifteen years before turning her hand to fiction. Born and brought up in Zimbabwe, Paula moved to London in 1989 and has lived there ever since. Her first thriller, The Girl on the Train, has been a global phenomenon, selling 23 million copies worldwide. Published in over forty languages, it has been a No.1 bestseller around the world and was a No.1 box office hit film starring Emily Blunt.

Photo credit: Phoebe Grigor

Please tell us about your new book, A Slow Fire Burning?

A Slow Fire Burning is a story of deceit, revenge and murder, and of three women (and one man!) who may or may not be implicated. It’s about how far someone might go to right a terrible wrong that had been done to them. How much would they be prepared to sacrifice? It’s about the extraordinary – and terrible – things we are all capable of doing when pushed to extremes.

Your main characters are each flawed. Were they inspired by real people or entirely fictional?

They are fictional, but there will be aspects of their characters, or their behaviour, or the challenges they face, that come from real life, from a story I’ve been told, or something I’ve read in the newspaper. I tend to focus on one small aspect of a person – in the case of Laura, for example, I was fascinated by her disinhibition, and what that would mean for her as she moved around the world of work, or relationships. I focus on that aspect, and then I start to build around it.

How well do you know your characters’ back stories before you begin writing, or do they evolve as your story evolves?

I tend to live with my characters for a long time before I start writing about them, in some cases – like Laura, or indeed Rachel from The Girl on the Train, I might have been thinking about them for years before I actually put pen to paper. Character is at the heart of my writing, so it is very important for me to know them well, to know how they see the world and how they will react to other people, or to certain situations.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I am not a good researcher. I tend to leave gaps where I don’t know something, and then fill them in later on. What research I do tends to be in the form of reading: I’ll read articles or books about alcoholic blackouts or brain injury, and sometimes I’ll need to ask questions about police procedure, but it’s not the part of writing a novel that I enjoy.

When visualising your characters do you have in mind an actor who could potentially play them?

No. I don’t tend to think about what people look like so much as what they are like; I might have an impression of how they move through the world, but I don’t tend to see them very clearly, and that’s possibly because I am examining them from the inside – I’m in their heads - rather than looking at them from the outside.

What is the best and worst thing about being an author?

Writing! When the writing is going well, it’s bliss, and when it’s going badly it’s hell.

What is the most extravagant holiday you’ve ever had?

I took a three month road trip around the United States a few years ago – I didn’t only stay in fancy places – there were a lot of cheap motels, too - but the real extravagance was taking so much time away.

Quick fire round

Favourite childhood book?

The Three Royal Monkeys by Walter de la Mare

3 things you can’t leave the house without?

Phone, book, lip balm

Favourite location in the UK?

The Scottish Highlands

Favourite place in the world?

I’m not sure I could pick one – I’m happiest on deserted beaches or mountain tops – anywhere really remote.

Which destination is at the top of your bucket list?

Mozambique or Chilean Patagonia.

Best way to travel - car, plane or train?

Train. Because there’s nothing like watching the world unfurl from a train window to stimulate a storyteller’s imagination.

Which 3 people would make up your dream dinner party?

Nora Ephron, Nelson Mandela, Duncan Grant

What are you reading right now?

Fight Night by Miriam Toews.

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