STOURBRIDGE schooled bestselling author SJ Watson has celebrated the publication of his third novel.

Final Cut has been published to glowing reviews echoing those of his debut - the international best-seller Before I Go To Sleep which was turned into a Hollywood movie starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth.

Hailed another "excellent" psychological thriller from the acclaimed author, who went to the former Buckpool School in Wordsley and to King Edward VI College in Stourbridge, the book tells the story of a young documentary film-maker who visits a small, northern seaside village named Blackwood Bay where she unearths mysteries and secrets that threaten to destroy her.

Watson - whose first name is Steve - said: "In researching the book, I was drawn to the idea of the way we document our lives now, on Instagram and Twitter etc, and the downsides of that, as well as the darkness that can hide in plain sight and the abuses that people can visit on their fellow humans."

He said he took inspiration from photography projects which blurred the line between voyeurism, surveillance and art, and documentary films capturing ordinary people's lives but he added: "There was always going to be a crime at heart of the novel and some mystery and some twists."

The lead character in Final Cut may have subconsciously been a reflection of the author's own creative journey, Steve admitted, saying: "I think with all the books a little bit from my own life maybe creeps in without me realising. She’s a character who had a very successful first project and now is following it up. There possibly is some truth in that…but not consciously."

The book sees him return to his preoccupation with memory, narrative and identity - themes which were explored in the award-winning Before I Go To Sleep which Steve wrote between shifts while working as an NHS audiology specialist at St Thomas's Hospital in London and which has now sold more than 6,000,000 copies worldwide.

But he said: "In writing Final Cut I wanted to move away slightly from the entirely domestic, urban and claustrophobic feel of Before I Go To Sleep and open the story world a little.

"I wanted to write a book in which the location becomes part of the story. I’ve always loved books where that’s the case, so there's a lot of stuff in this book about seascapes and the coast."

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Final Cut has already started notching up top reviews on Amazon and Steve said he's "happy with the way it seems to be going" and he added: "I don’t really read reviews and things but there seems to be an enthusiasm out there for it on social media which I’m really excited about it."

The journey to produce a third novel, however, was not plain sailing.

Steve admitted to having scrapped a novel he'd penned between his second book Second Life, published in 2015, and Final Cut - as he didn't feel it was "really good enough".

He told the News: " When you have the audience I’m lucky enough to have I don’t want to short change people by putting something out that isn’t as good as I can make it.”

He wanted to give loyal fans the "book they deserve" - he said - adding: "There are so many books out there and I’m very aware when you walk into a book shop if you choose mine off the shelf there’s another one you’re not choosing. It’ my responsibility to make it as good as it can be.”

Now with Final Cut safely on the book shelves and flying off them, he's already deep into writing his fourth book which has been both helped and hindered by lockdown.

He said: "I always planned to start writing a new book in April of this year so when lockdown happened in mid-March I just decided I would stick to my plan and forge ahead. On the one hand it’s been quite good as I’ve had fewer distractions and no meetings, no trips out to London and so on but the downside of it is there hasn’t been very much stimulating me. Normally I would spend time in coffee shops, people watching and things like that, and there hasn’t been any of that recently."

The 49-year-old, who is currently based in East Sussex, always wanted to be a writer and remembers dreaming about becoming an author during his school days at Buckpool.

He said: "It was always there in the background, so when I was at school – sitting in those classrooms at Buckpool - absolutely it was what I wanted to do. I kind of got side-tracked into a scientific career."

Stourbridge News: SJ Watson. Pic by Colin ThomasSJ Watson. Pic by Colin Thomas

After working in the NHS, determined to pursue his creative dream, Steve embarked on a writing course with the renowned Faber Academy - after which he got his big break with Before I Go To Sleep.

When asked what tips he could pass on to aspiring writers back in his home-town - he said: “The only way you can actually really learn to write and get better as a writer is by doing it. You can do courses and read books and they’re all very helpful but you need to put pen to paper and just practice.

"Write as much as possible and read as much as possible. If you want to take it seriously you need to treat yourself as a writer before anybody else will; you need to give yourself permission to be a writer and to think of yourself that way."

Final Cut, published by Transworld Publishers, is available from all major high street and online book sellers.