Published by HQ on February 9, 2017
Thank you for joining me for an interview on my blog. Can you tell us one thing we would be surprised to learn about you?
Thank you for inviting me! I would love to say that I free-fall out of aeroplanes or something equally exciting but there’s nothing I can really tell you. I’d love to open a tea-room one day. Second to writing, I love making cakes.
Did anything in particular inspire the story of The Breakdown?
I was travelling home one afternoon through some woods when the sky suddenly became dark, the skies opened and I found myself in the middle of a huge storm, complete with flash-flooding. It was quite scary and I began to wonder what I would do if it was the middle of the night and I saw someone who had broken down at the side of the road. Would I stop and help them? Or afraid for my own safety, would I drive on? I thought it was an interesting dilemma and The Breakdown was born.
Cass is plagued with guilt that she didn’t stop to help the person in the parked up car. In Cass’s shoes, would you have done more to help?
Like Cass, I’m not sure I would have got out of my car. But I would definitely have phoned the local police to tell them about her. Or I would have asked someone to go back with me to check on her.
How did the experience of writing The Breakdown differ from writing Behind Closed Doors?
It was a very different experience. I wrote Behind Closed Doors for myself, with no particular reader in mind. I wrote The Breakdown with the readers of Behind Closed Doors in mind, which made it more difficult. With Behind Closed Doors, there was no pressure to deliver anything particular. With The Breakdown, I was conscious of having to deliver the same kind of reader experience. I felt a loyalty to those who had loved Behind Closed Doors and I didn’t want to let them down.
Given the success of Behind Closed Doors, as publication day for The Breakdown approaches have you found there’s added pressure for it to receive as good a reception as your debut?
Yes, definitely. I think a large part of the success of Behind Closed Doors was that it was different from anything that was out there at the time. It’s difficult to come up with something original, to write a story with an angle that nobody has thought of before, especially in the genre of psychological thrillers. I know there will be comparisons with Behind Closed Doors and I’m prepared for people to say that they didn’t enjoy it as much. But there are some readers who have enjoyed it more, which is very encouraging!
If you could choose one book published during the past year that you would recommend we read, what book would that be?
The Light Between The Oceans by ML Steadman, because it’s a beautiful and moving story - and not a psychological thriller!
What do you enjoy the most about being an author?
Being able to do what I love. I used to have a heavy teaching schedule but I’ve given up most of it to be able to concentrate on writing. It’s a luxury to be able to do that.
What does your typical writing day look like?
I get all the mundane things out of the way first – housework, washing, ironing - because I can’t concentrate if I know there are things to be done. And then I sit down at my computer, usually in the kitchen but if I’m cold, I’ll get under the quilt and write in bed. I don’t see the time passing when I’m writing so sometimes I don’t have lunch until 3pm. If I get stuck, I have a break, catch up on emails, go for a walk. And then I write again until the evening.
What do you do when you aren’t writing?
On the days that I don’t teach, I’ll have lunch with a friend, maybe go shopping. And I try to make inroads into my huge TBR pile. I enjoy going to the cinema because I’m more likely to concentrate on the story than if I watch a film on television. I’m always writing in my head so I never really switch off, which means I lose the plot very quickly!
In both Behind Closed Doors and The Breakdown, I have loved the level of suspense and the twists and turns throughout. I wonder how much about your story you know before you begin writing it, or if sometimes you discover those surprises in the plot just like the reader does?
I know the beginning and endings of my stories but the part in-between is often a wonderful voyage of discovery. Sometimes a twist just happens, all on its own, and it’s a lovely surprise. It’s just happened with Book 3!
Finally, if you could pick the dream cast for The Breakdown, who would star in the movie?
Dan Stevens for Matthew, Emma Stone for Cass and Jennifer Lawrence for Rachel.