It’s been a significant oversight on my part that I still haven’t managed to fit in the reading of one of the excellent looking books by A.J. (Alison) Waines. I’ll definitely be putting that right with her next one – Lost in the Lake will be published on 7th September (available for preorder – links below) and it looks unmissable. I’m delighted to welcome Alison to Being Anne to tell us more about the book and her harrowing research…
Many thanks to Anne for the opportunity to contribute a guest post to her excellent blog, and to tell you about some of the grisly background research I had to undertake for Lost in the Lake!
My latest novel, Lost in the Lake is a standalone novel (and also second in the series featuring intrepid psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby.) It’s a twisty tale of deception, jealousy, loneliness and the craving to belong: a tangled Murder Mystery on the surface and a sinister Psychological Thriller underneath.
Here’s the story:
She came at first for answers…now she’s back for you
Amateur viola player Rosie Chandler is the sole survivor of a crash which sends members of a string quartet plunging into a lake. Convinced the ‘accident’ was deliberate, but unable to recall what happened, she is determined to recover her lost memories and seeks out clinical psychologist, Dr Samantha Willerby.
But Rosie is hiding something…
Sam is immediately drawn to the tragic Rosie and as she helps her piece the fragments together, the police find disturbing new evidence which raises further questions. Why is Rosie so desperate to recover her worthless viola? And what happened to the violin lost in the crash, worth over £2m?
When Rosie insists they return to the lake to relive the fatal incident, the truth about Rosie finally creeps up on Sam – but by now, she’s seriously out of her depth…
Lost in the Lake is a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat Psychological Thriller that will leave you glancing over your shoulder.
For the ‘mystery’ part of Lost in the Lake I had to investigate what happens when a small clapped-out van hits deep water and how you escape when it’s sinking fast. My research brought up some surprises, I can tell you, and a word of warning – it’s not for the faint hearted!
Firstly, as soon as a vehicle hits the water and starts sinking, there’s no way you can get the doors open. This is because the pressure inside and outside is uneven until the interior has completely filled with water and the pressure has equalised. In other words, you have to wait until the car hits the bottom of the lake and is totally submerged before you can get a door open. If you try before then, you’re completely wasting valuable breath…
Once a vehicle has hit the water it usually takes between two and ten minutes for it to sink. This can happen faster, depending on the speed, angle of entry and the physical characteristics of the vehicle. So, if you can’t open the doors, what about the windows? Crucial to my story was whether the windows had winders or were electronic and I needed to know what effect the water would have on the electrics.
During my research, I came across a first-hand account of a driver who re-entered a submerged car through an open side window to retrieve his wallet. While he was inside trying to find it, the window automatically went up, the doors locked, the power shut off and he was trapped inside the car. Terrifying! The lesson being, that in most situations, the electrical system inside the car goes haywire after full submersion. That involves the central locking, windows and sun roof.
It’s worth remembering, though, that many cars have window winders in the back and central locking in the front. The vehicle in Lost in the Lake, however, is one of those small delivery vans with windows only at the front and glass panels in the back doors. In that case, if the windows lock, how on earth do you get out? My main character, Rosie, manages it somehow. She thinks she’s the only survivor…but is she?
Other amazing facts I learnt:
- You can’t break a window by kicking it even if you’re fighting for your life. You might kick so hard that the steel window frame bends out a fraction, but the glass won’t break.
- As a rule of thumb, when travelling near a large body of water, it’s advisable to crack open your window a fraction and, if the worst happens, open it fully as soon as you hit the water, before the electrics short out. This allows the water to come in and equalize the pressure faster, even if you can’t climb out that way. It will mean you can get the doors open quicker.
- Airbags need a collision force equal to running into a brick wall at 10 to 15 miles per hour to activate. Water cushions the blow in a crash into water, so airbags don’t deploy. I didn’t realise this!
Another aspect of my novel involves the fate of a priceless violin. In exploring the plot for this, I needed to find out what damage would occur to a violin in this type of crash. I found makers of exclusive violin cases online and researched the kinds of tests they did to check how watertight they were. I discovered a test where a case was floated out into Alamitos Bay in Southern California for several hours with no damage to the instrument. While I made up the name of a fictitious manufacturer in the book, I knew a watertight case was possible, so it meant that this particular aspect of my mystery would be plausible – always essential in fiction!
I always find research for stories fascinating and an exciting outcome is that it invariably throws up new angles for the plot!
Fascinating post Alison – thank you! I’m really looking forward to reading and reviewing Lost in the Lake a little closer to the release date…
About the Author
AJ Waines has sold over 400,000 books worldwide and topped the UK and Australian Kindle Charts in 2015 & 2016 with her number one bestseller, Girl on a Train. Following fifteen years as a psychotherapist, she is now a full-time novelist with publishing deals in France, Germany, Norway, Hungary and USA (audiobooks).
Her fourth psychological thriller, No Longer Safe, sold over 30,000 copies in the first month, in thirteen countries. AJ Waines has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Times and was ranked a Top 10 UK author on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) in 2016. She lives in Hampshire, UK, with her husband.