Bloody Scotland: Heather Darwent on The Things We do to Our Friends

Each week Scottish Field will be talking to one of the Bloody Scotland Debut Prize shortlist authors about their novels and feature an extract from the book. 

This week we hear from Heather Darwent, 34, from East Lothian, about her novel The Things We Do To Our Friends (Penguin), a suspense debut about a toxic friendship in first year at Edinburgh University.

Click HERE to read an excerpt from the book.

Heather says: 

Some of my own experiences drew me to write the book. Which I think might be quite common for debuts. My novel is about a girl called Clare who moves to Edinburgh to study at university, seeing it as a fresh start and a chance to reinvent herself. 

I, too, studied at Edinburgh, and I thought it would make a brilliant setting for a thriller. It’s a really interesting age when you’re trying to find yourself, which I was fascinated by. I’m also a huge fan of books set on campuses – whether it’s a thriller or something like Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld, so it felt natural as a setting. 

My writing process is not particularly structured, but I tend to write very messy first drafts to get the story down in my head – this is the hardest and, in some ways, the least enjoyable part for me, although I know other writers find this stage very freeing. Then I edit a lot. I really, really love editing, so I’ll go through lots of rounds, tightening prose, adding bits and working out the characters. 

I’m working on something in a similar genre – I’ve actually been working on it for a few years, and it has some similar themes. I’ve put it down for a bit now, and I’m excited to pick it up again with fresh eyes.  


In the thriller space, I’m obsessed with Nicci French – I love their depiction of London, and I also think it’s very cool that the books are written by a couple. Tana French is also brilliant; again, I feel so rooted in Dublin when I read anything by her. I also love Hanya Yanagihara and am a big Paul Auster fan. 

I just finished I’m Sorry You Feel That Way by Rebecca Wait, and it was the perfect blend of sad and funny. The characters felt so real – I was actually quite gutted when it came to an end as I was enjoying it so much, and I think it will stay with me for a long time.  

Bloody Scotland Debut shortlisters 2023

Bloody Scotland Debut shortlisters 2023

The winner of the Bloody Scotland Debut Prize will be revealed on 15 September at the opening night of the Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival.