Meet Nikki Smith Author Of Look What You Made Me Do

What happens when a sibling relationship turns toxic? This week's interviewee, Nikki Smith, delves into this theme in her second gripping psychological suspense thriller, Look What You Made Me Do, which was recently published in hardback. 

Quite frankly the gorgeous colour of the front door sold the novel to us even before we read it. Smith tells TW about the importance of characters, her tips for writers who want to get published and where you'll find her on a night out!

Download the ebook of Look What You Made Me Do from Amazon or buy the hardback from Thriller Women's list at NB: if you buy books through this link we may earn a commission from, whose fees support independent bookshops.

Book cover of Look What You Made Me Do by Nikki Smith

TW: Look What You Made Me Do features the sibling rivalry of sisters Jo and Caroline. Why do you like writing about family relationships as a novelist?

NS: My books have been described as psychological suspense thrillers with an emotional heart and I think this is true - the characters I write about are the most important part of the novel for me. I think you can have a great plot but without great characters it's very difficult to build up that emotional connection with the reader. Family relationships are one of the areas that interest me because as I think we've all seen over the past couple of months - families where things appear to be perfect on the surface are often hiding dark secrets; so they make a great place to explore conflict.

TW: We love the passive aggressive title of Look What You Made Me Do. How does it sum up the theme and tone of the book?

NS: I really like my title - it actually came from something one of the characters says in the book. After I'd submitted to my editor my teenage daughter told me that it was a Taylor Swift song as well! I think it sums up succinctly the actions taken by all the characters in the novel in different ways. 

TW: This is your second novel. What did you learn from writing your first and did you experience 'second book syndrome'?

NS: I don't know if I had 'second book syndrome' but I certainly found writing book two very hard, as I know many authors do. With a debut novel, you aren't under any pressure to deliver a final draft and because I had a two-book deal, I was very aware of the deadline for my second book. I'm not sure I would be able to say I 'learned' anything from my debut as it felt like when I was writing Look What You Made Me Do that I was starting all over again from scratch, and there were times when I wondered whether I'd be able to do it, but I have a great editor who gave me fantastic feedback after I showed her my 'first' draft, and this was really, really helpful in shaping the final version of the book.

TW:  Did you always want to be a writer? What was your day job before? Tell us about your route to publication.

NS: I did always want to be a writer - from when I was very young - I was an avid reader and I used to love making up stories in English lessons at school. I wrote a book after I left university (looking back, it was rubbish!) and after submitting it to agents and getting nowhere I kind of gave up. 

I went on to have a career in finance - I qualified as an accountant and worked in a variety of roles from investment banking to a trampoline park! I still wrote, but nothing I showed people. It wasn't until I'd had kids and felt I had a bit of breathing space that I had a bit of a 'now or never' moment after I was contacted by someone who I used to go to school with whom I hadn't seen for twenty years who asked if I'd done anything with my writing as she still remembered the stories I read out in class. 

I decided to sign up for a six week Curtis Brown Creative writing course (online as I was still working full time) which I absolutely loved. I then applied for a longer course, was accepted, and that's where I wrote the first draft of All In Her Head. After I finished the course, I then edited and edited and edited and also had some great help and advice from another author, Amanda Reynolds, who agreed to mentor me. I then submitted to agents, was lucky enough to get representation from the lovely Sophie Lambert at C+W, and we worked on the novel for a few months before submitting to Orion who offered me a pre-empt for a two book deal.

TW: What tips do you have for writers who want to get published?

NS: Learn about the industry - you don't have to go on a creative writing course to do this - follow authors and agents you admire on Twitter, look out for mentoring opportunities and listen to any feedback you get. Some people get defensive when they receive feedback, but sometimes it's the best way to learn to how to improve and you have to get very used to it as a published writer.

TW: What's your dream writer's goal?

NS: I feel very lucky to have been published at all, especially in hardback, and my debut novel was optioned for TV so I feel many of my goals have already been met. Obviously being a Sunday Times bestseller would be amazing, but really, I'd just like to continue to earn enough to be able to continue writing.

TW: What's coming next in your career?

NS: Hopefully Book 3! I'm working on this now, so watch this space!

Quick fire questions:

TW: Plotter or pantser? 

NS: Plotter.

TW: Busy writing festival or cosy book chat? 

NS: Normally I'd be a bit torn on this answer, but in the current situation I'd say writing festival - I have missed these so much!

TW: Huge writing blitzes or slow and steady? 

NS: Slow and steady, unless I'm doing structural edits when it tends to be blitzes.

TW: Dinner out or wild party? 

NS: Dinner out. At the moment, anywhere out, quite frankly.

Thanks Nikki!

Image of author Nikki Smith

More about Look What You Made Me Do:

Two people can keep a secret ... if one of them is dead.

Sisters Jo and Caroline are used to hiding things from each other. They've never been close - taking it in turns to feel on the outside of their family unit, playing an endless game of favourites.

Jo envies Caroline's life - things have always come so easy to her. Then a family inheritance falls entirely to Jo, and suddenly now Caroline wants what Jo has. Needs it, even.

But just how far will she go to get it?


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