Hopefully you all know of or are even members of our amazing Elsie’s Attic Book Club . . . if not, you can join in the literary chat here After we had Clare’s book, After the End as our Read of the Month back in September last year, we jumped at the opportunity to be able to interview Clare for Elsie’s Attic Book Club.
With more than two million copies of her books sold worldwide, number one bestseller Clare Mackintosh is the multi-award-winning author of I Let You Go, which was a Sunday Times bestseller and the fastest-selling title by a new crime writer in 2015. It also won the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year in 2016.
Both Clare’s second and third novels, I See You and Let Me Lie, were number one Sunday Times bestsellers. Clare’s latest novel, After the End, was published in June 2019 and spent seven weeks in the Sunday Times hardback bestseller chart.
Clare is a former Thames Valley Police Officer enjoying a 12-year career, rising to Inspector before leaving in 2011. In 2006, Clare and her husband, Rob, had had twin boys, Josh and Alex, via IVF. They were born prematurely and three weeks later, Alex contracted meningitis. Two weeks after that, he died. Amidst the shock and grief, and the sheer exhaustion of caring for a premature baby, seven months later Clare discovered she was pregnant, despite being told that she’d never conceive naturally. Incredibly, it was twins again. Daughters Evie and George were born at 37 weeks and Clare suddenly had to care for three children under 15-months.
Thank you for agreeing to answer a few questions for our book club. So let’s dive straight in . . .
How’s the flooding situation and have you found the frog? (Clare’s house has recently been affected but Storm Ciara and Dennis!).
We’ve had two feet of water in our cellar for the last fortnight. It went up to three feet, with only another couple till it came into the house, but fortunately the rain has stopped and the levels are slowly subsided. The water came in through tiny cracks in the floor, along with a frog no bigger than my thumb. He seems to have disappeared now, but whether he’s gone back out or is somewhere in the house is anybody’s guess…
Tea or coffee?
Tea, always. Buckets of it. Milk with half a sugar in the morning, then just milk for the rest of the day. Decaf after 4pm. I like fresh mint tea too, and ginger when I need perking up.
Disciplined writer or go with the flow . . .
Very disciplined. I plan my books down to chapter level, and although lots still happens that takes me by surprise, this helps me work quite quickly because I’m rarely staring at a blank page.
What is your favourite book?
Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier. Closely followed by Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson.
I have to confess I Let You Go is probably one of my most favourite books ever, mostly due to the fact I didn’t see ‘that bit’ (no spoilers) coming . . I genuinely did gasp out loud when I read ‘that’ bit. Having your first book become a Sunday Times Bestseller, is just amazing, how did you make the move from CID to Best selling novelist?
It wasn’t quite as simple as that… I was working as a public order Inspector, in charge of large scale events like demonstrations and protests. I rarely saw my children, and wanted to get my priorities straight. I took a career break, and started working as a freelance copywriter and journalist, and I wrote I Let You Go in that first year of freelancing. I was very lucky to be one of the rare writers who finds success with their debut, and I’ve worked very hard ever since to try and keep it that way!
After the End was a very emotional read for our book club and lots of us are Mothers, too, which I think adds another layer of emotion to the read. You have been very open in sharing your own similar experience. How do you cope as a writer dealing with such emotional topics, not just in After the End but in all your books and then have to switch off and carry on with everyday life?
I’m pretty good at compartmentalising, which is possibly a hangover from being in the police, where you have to learn to leave tough jobs at the door when you get home. After the End was a really therapeutic book for me to write, because it forced me to address some of the grief I’d kept locked away since my son died.
How do you relax? Most of us read for relaxation is it still the same for you or do you slip into work mode, analysing the content, structure and plot of the book?
I’m always analysing books, but that doesn’t take away my enjoyment of them. I read around 100 books a year, and it’s still my go-to pastime. I also love swimming, particularly outdoors, and anything crafty.
Tips for dealing with rejections . . .
Onwards and upwards!
What’s next for Clare Mackintosh?
I’m writing another thriller, which will be out next year. It’s set on a twenty hour non-stop flight from London to Sydney and it’s very tense and twisty – I’m loving writing it.
Thanks for your time, Clare, much appreciated! We are giving away one signed copy of Clare’s book, I Let You Go on our Facebook page
(giveaway ends Sunday 8th March 2020). Hope on over and be in with a chance!