Author Showcase, Book Review, Writing Tips and Tricks

Publication Day! Author Q&A: OVER HER DEAD BODY by Tim Adler

Tim Adler’s latest novel OVER HER DEAD BODY
is out today.

🥳📚Happy Publication Day to OVER HER DEAD BODY, the latest psychological thriller by Tim Adler.

I was delighted to work with Tim on the manuscript for his latest psychological thriller, OVER HER DEAD BODY. When Tim first approached me, I was utterly flawed by the hook of the novel and just had to be involved in bringing this manuscript to publication. Described as BEHIND HER EYES meets THE SILENT PATIENT, this is a gripping read for any pyschological thriller fans out there!

Tim was kind enough to sit down and chat to me about the writing process of OVER HER DEAD BODY, his writing approach, as well as the benefits of working with others while writing, so be sure to scroll down to read an exclusive interview with the author!


There are three sides to every murder: your side, my side and the truth

When police arrest Keisha Adeane for the murder of her abusive husband, all the evidence points to her guilt. But she claims her husband was in fact murdered by a nurse from the NHS psychiatric hospital where she was sectioned as a teenager.

To find her husband’s killer, Keisha must smuggle herself back inside the secure unit she spent years trying to escape from.

Available now in ebook!

Tim, welcome! Over Her Dead Body is your fifth novel, isn’t it? Tell us a little more about it.

The teaser for OVER HER DEAD BODY goes, “There are three sides to every murder: your side, my side and the truth.”

When police arrest Keisha Adeane for the murder of her abusive husband, all the evidence points to her guilt. But she claims her husband was in fact murdered by a nurse from the NHS psychiatric hospital where she was sectioned as a teenager.

To find her husband’s killer, Keisha must smuggle herself back inside the secure unit she spent years trying to escape from.


The book is partly set in an NHS psychiatric hospital, a bit like Rampton or Broadmoor, which only makes the events of the novel – no spoilers here! – all the more disturbing. How did you go about researching what life was like in a high-security mental health unit?

Luckily, I know a mental health professional who works in prisons and in high-security psychiatric units and they were happy to be interviewed, as long as they weren’t thanked in the acknowledgements. As a journalist, it’s important for me to try to be as accurate as possible, even if sometimes that does get in the way of the drama. 

You started your writing life as a journalist. Who inspired you to start writing? Have your influences changed since then?

Well, I’d always written as a child – today, we’d call it Doctor Who or James Bond fan fiction, written by a nine-year-old boy. My English teacher encouraged me to read what I’d written that week aloud in class, which I am sure endeared me hugely to my schoolmates.

Embarrassing as it sounds, it was reading a biography of Ernest Hemingway that really made me realise I wanted to be a writer. The romanticism of those early years in Paris, I guess. Even today, Hemingway remains a huge influence. The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber is still probably my favourite short story. It’s astonishingly cynical.   

You haven’t always written in this genre, so why did you choose to write psychological thrillers?

They’re my favourite genre. And what I like about them is that all the elements are quite simple: the abused wife, the voyeur, the unreliable narrator, the wronged man, the claustrophobic setting, the mistress/nanny/flatmate from hell. It’s how you combine these elements and do something fresh with them that’s the challenge. Elizabeth Day pulled it off quite brilliantly recently with MAGPIE.   

Speaking of challenges, what was the biggest challenge you faced when writing Over Her Dead Body? How did you overcome it?

Probably like most of your readers, I write around the edges of my life. It’s not having enough time each day to go into scenes as deeply as I want to, really getting into that flow state. I look up and an hour has passed without realising it. I see writing as a kind of meditation. And a bit like yoga, you have to do your daily practice.  

Do you like to plan the action of your novels [plotter] or do you just let them write themselves (pantser!)?

If you’re writing a thriller, it has to work like the inside of a Swiss watch. That’s not true with literary fiction. I’m very much a plotter and spend months iterating the outline. I only start writing once it’s fixed. Even then, I’m not afraid to change things once I’m into the actual writing of scenes.  

Earlier in your fiction career, you were enrolled in one of the Curtis Brown writing courses? Do you think writers both brand new and experienced can learn from such courses and creative writing programmes?

Oh yes. I walked into my Curtis Brown course a bit puffed up with myself, to be honest. I was already a published writer with three nonfiction books and three self-published novels under my belt. It quickly knocked me down to size – I realized I wasn’t the most talented in the room, by far. And two of my course mates, James Bailey and Hilary Tailor, have gone on to mainstream success. Ironically, the most talented of all of us cannot find a publisher.

The best part of doing a creative writing course is getting feedback on your work and finding people to commiserate with. 

How important was it for you to work with an outside editor? Would you do it again?

Very important. Obviously I worked with you, Rebecca, on OVER HER DEAD BODY and I would always work with an editor who’s got major publisher experience from now on. First, there’s sorting out the synopsis so it’s watertight and logical. You pointed a key problem there that never occurred to me. And second, you really helped me improve my prose style, I hope. Getting notes from an outside editor is essential if you’re serious about craft.

When writing thrillers, one of the most important aspects of the narrative are the twists, and Over Her Dead Body is full of them, with the reader shocked at every turn! Do you have any tips regarding how to really nail those crucial instances?

Actually, I would say a thriller can only have one Big Twist, which is what people remember, whether it’s the midpoint of GONE GIRL or the end of THE SIXTH SENSE. It all comes down to plotting, which again is why I outline. You cannot cheat your audience – your twist has to be there in plain sight throughout the book. 

Writing a novel is both an exhausting and inspiring experience. Do you have any plans to put pen to paper again soon?

I’m 30,000 words into my next novel, which is my take on a gothic thriller, kind of REBECCA – the isolated house, the severe housekeeper, the ingenue who naively enters this world. It’s a modern-day FINGERSMITH by Sarah Walters meets EILEEN by Ottessa Moshfegh. I showed the outline to a former editor at a Big Five publishing house and she said, “I adore this.” 

So, if any agents reading out there like the sound of it, don’t hesitate to get in touch! 

What is your desert-island read?

Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote. He’s like the Fred Astaire of prose – he makes it all seem so graceful and effortless. His short story MOJAVE is another favourite. As he said of himself, “I’m a semantic Paganini!” 

Are there any authors that you’re loving reading at the moment? Or any names to watch out for?

A new British crime author for me is Sarah Pearse, whose THE SANITORIUM I absolutely devoured. I thought, “This is the acme of state-of-the-art crime writing style.”

An American science-fiction writer whose books I always buy is Blake Crouch, who I think is the most exciting prose stylist since Hemingway.

His sentences.


Very short.  

Do you have any writing tips to share?

Learn to type. It always surprised me when I worked at the Telegraph how few of the journos could touch type as opposed to jabbing with two fingers. I mean, if you wanted to be a classical composer, you’d learn to play the piano, right?

What is your writing process like? Do you have a routine? A favourite place to write?

I wake at 5:30am and am usually at my desk within ten minutes of waking up. I have around an hour and a half before the rest of the house stirs. I try to write at least 350 words in those 90 minutes.

I used to think that somehow writing by hand would make me a better writer. One of my heroes, Graham Greene, only used to write with a pen, so I thought I’d better emulate him. I only found out years later the only reason why he wrote longhand was because he was a poor typist. That said, I do rewrite on hard copy with a fountain pen and I’m fussy about the pen I use. And I could go through three or four hard copy printouts before I’m done.

I’m also keen on Scrivener as a writing software but I use that more as a digital filing cabinet. First drafts I write using a new discovery, Writer, which I absolutely love. It’s got this really basic interface that reminds me of old green font MS-DOS computers we used to have in newsrooms. It even makes an electric typewriter sound. It’s super nerdy. 

How do you unwind at the end of the day?

In summer I pour myself a vermouth and tonic, which has to be the most delicious drink ever. And then probably, like everybody else, I collapse in front of the TV. I used to believe there was a difference between cinema and television but there’s no difference anymore. Something like THE ESSEX SERPENT on Apple TV+, directed by Clio Bernard, has all the visual flair of a Cannes film festival prize winner.

OVER HER DEAD BODY is published today! And I’m delighted to share an exclusive extract with you below.

This is where it all ends.

The woman whose husband I murdered is not in the dock when I come to give evidence. She doesn’t want to hear it. Because she knows what I’m about to say could send us both to prison.

Should I tell them the truth, that she was the one who begged me to kill him?

Or should I lie to protect her?

Sixty years ago, they would have hanged us both for what we did. The judge over there would have draped a black cloth over his wig and sentenced us to death. Standing side by side in the dock, our hands would have found each other.

Keisha’s face scowled from the front page of this morning’s Daily Mail. They also had a picture of her on her wedding day. Till death do us part, that’s what they promised each other. Well, she kept her promise.

We buried his body together in a shallow grave.

The CPS lawyer isn’t looking at me but looking at her fingers, as if she’s debating whether to have a manicure or not. She goes through my police statement, the inconsistencies, the blank moments, the parts where I contradicted myself. She’s toying with me the way a cat would with a mouse before biting its head off.

“…Now let’s turn to the night of September the fourth last year. What was it that you so badly needed to tell Doctor Adeane?”

I say quietly, “I don’t remember.”

“Why not just tell him that it was over between the two of you, that’s what I don’t understand.”

I say nothing.

“Tell me,” the barrister continues, “when you arrived at the house, did you see any forced entry, a broken window perhaps?”

I clear my throat. “No, I did not.”

“No sign of this mysterious woman you claim was already inside the house?”

The barrister smirks as if she alone has the answer to some secret beyond the rest of us.

“Alright then, tell me what you did see when you entered the building,” she continues.

Oh, she’s playing a game this one. 

“Doctor Rupert in the sitting room with his back to me watching television.”

That brings her up short. She looks as if she’s discovered a fleck of shit beneath her fingernail.

“You’re now saying there was nobody else in the house?” she asks, puzzled.

Keisha’s defence barrister, a bloated Puffer fish of a man, stares at me, opening and closing his mouth as if he’s stranded on dry land, his Muppet eyebrows going up and down.

“’Course not,” I say flatly. “Why would I say that? I knew what I were doing.”

“And what were you doing?” the barrister continues.

The courtroom is as rigid as high-tensile steel. Even the wood panelling seems to be holding its breath. The jurors daren’t take their eyes off me.

“I went downstairs and unlocked his shotgun and brought it back up.”

“You unlocked his shotgun?” the prosecution asks, as if stumbling over a translation.“ That’s right. I went back upstairs, called out his name and blew his bloody head off.”

Already hooked? Of course, grab your copy of OVER HER DEAD BODY here.

Out today! Grab your copy now!

About the Author

Tim Adler is a former commissioning editor on the Daily Telegraph who has also written for the Financial Times and The Times. He has written three nonfiction books, the most recent of which was called “compulsively readable” by the Sunday Times and “dazzling” by the Daily Mail, while said “Adler writes with brio”.

OVER HER DEAD BODY is Tim’s fifth thriller. His debut SLOW BLEED ranked #1 on the Kindle medical thriller chart, while bestselling crime author Peter James said of its follow-up HOLD STILL, “hooked me from the beginning”.

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