Massive excitement! I am joined by author extraordinaire and all-round-fabulous lady, Clare Chase on my blog today. Clare’s debut novel, You Think You Know Me, was released by Choc Lit in December last year and much to my delight it has now also been released in paperback (grab yourself a copy, asap!) I LOVED this book, it was one of my favourite thrillers of 2014 and I’m so excited that the paperback has now come out as hopefully it will reach a whole new range of readers. (You can read my original review here.) Clare gives us the low-down on You Think You Know Me, including how she kept the shocking ending under wraps and also gives us an update on the sequel…
Thanks very much for having me, Holly; it’s lovely to be here! I’m published by Choc Lit and write mysteries and suspense with romantic intrigue.
My non-writing ‘career’ has been somewhat varied… Amongst other things, I’ve practised creative writing in the world of PR, and done some Miss Marple-style studying of human nature whilst running a prison reading group!
I am really excited about your debut novel; You Think You Know Me coming out in paperback! (7th September with Choc Lit) Can you tell us a little more about the story?
Thank you! It’s a murder mystery, set in the arts world. The novel opens when journalist, Anna Morris, meets a charming stranger in a smart London gallery. She falls for him on sight, but then finds he’s given her a false name. Torn between backing off and allowing him to explain, she gets drawn in. Before long, she finds a little knowledge can be a very dangerous thing…
What was your inspiration behind the story?
A few years ago I watched a documentary about psychopaths. It explained that they’re not always violent, and are often successful professionally, thanks to traits like fearlessness, and the ability to remain cool under pressure. And although they’re emotionally detached, they’re frequently charismatic, which can hide that negative trait. The take-home message was chilling, and made me think how easily one might mistake a villain for a hero.
Are the characters in You Think You Know Me completely fictional or are any based on anyone in real life?
Their precise make up is completely fictional. (But some of them do borrow elements from people I know!)
I absolutely loved the finale of the story. Did you yourself know exactly what was going to happen the moment you started writing? How easy was it keeping the end a secret from the reader?
Thank you – I’m so thrilled that you enjoyed it! I plan my stories in advance, so I knew roughly what would happen, though I modified certain elements as I went along.
I think the hardest thing about keeping the identity of the killer secret is the need to play fair with the reader. The truth has to ring true, once it’s revealed, so there have to be proper clues along the way. The challenge is slipping them in, in passing, so that they seem insignificant!
How long did You Think You Know Me take to write?
To physically get the first draft down took about two or three months, but for me that’s the quickest bit. I always spend ages before that, mulling over the plot, and also time afterwards, letting the story settle, and then redrafting/editing as required.
It’s very nice of you to ask! I’ve written a novella sequel to You Think You Know Me which is currently with Choc Lit’s reading panel, so hopefully I’ll be able to let you know before too long! In the meantime, I have a new full-length mystery, set in my home city of Cambridge, due out in December.
You have had lots of cracking reviews for your debut novel. How does it feel to hear that readers enjoyed your book so much?
Amazing! I’m so thrilled by the positive feedback. At the same time, I keep feeling as though it must be a fluke, and worrying about whether people will like my next book as much!
Who are your favourite authors and what kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I read books in all sorts of genres, but crime fiction is my favourite. Picking out particular authors is tricky; I could go on and on! I love series with memorable settings, including those by Donna Leon (Venice), Ian Rankin (Edinburgh) and Kate Atkinson (Cambridge, Edinburgh and more). I also really enjoy Sue Grafton, Linwood Barclay, Harlan Coben and Jonathan Kellerman. I find I connect very quickly with their central characters.
And finally – can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?
Certainly. I’m just plotting another book in the Cambridge series I mentioned above. These are ‘couples in crime’ stories that follow a developing relationship between the two main characters, alongside a central mystery in each book. The guy, Nate, is an ex-PI and the woman, Ruby, writes popular psychology books, which comes in handy when she’s faced with some unnerving behaviour in book one!
A huge thank you to Lu at Choc Lit and to Clare for kindly answering my questions. Don’t forget to pick up your copy of You Think You Know Me, released 7th September 2015 by Choc Lit. ♥