An Interview with Author, Clare Mackintosh
I am delighted to welcome author and writer Clare Mackintosh to my blog. I am especially excited and grateful that Clare has joined us on her “Publication Day”! Her début novel, I Let You Go, is out NOW as an ebook. It will be available in print, April 2015.
Firstly, ‘Happy E-Publication Day’, Clare. You must be so excited?
I am hugely excited! I first had the idea for this novel in 2011, so although I didn’t start writing it until the following year, it’s been around for a while.
Have you already cracked open the champagne to celebrate?
Absolutely. Although to be honest I never need much of an excuse to drink champagne… My main launch party will be for the paperback in April 2015, but I couldn’t let this first publication date pass without a bit of a knees-up!
Good for you. You most definitely deserve it.
Will you introduce us to your novel and give us brief insight into the story?
The story begins with a terrible accident that kills a five-year-old boy. We meet Jenna Gray, as she struggles to come to terms with what has happened, moving away from her home town in an attempt to move on from her grief. Jenna is deeply traumatised, and eventually her past catches up with her – with devastating consequences.
It’s definitely a thought provoking theme. The characters seem to go through such an emotional journey. How did you cope with your own emotion whilst writing it?
Any story that involves the death of a child is always going to be emotional. My own son died as a baby, and I found certain scenes incredibly hard to write. I knew how Jenna felt because I’d been there myself. I was very careful about when I wrote those sections: making sure I was in the right place emotionally, and that I had enough time to pull myself back out of the story.
I must say, I was up at ridiculous o’clock this morning so I could start reading as soon as it was downloaded onto my Kindle. You portray Jenna’s emotions with incredible dignity and sensitivity. It touched my heart.
Jenna runs off to Wales to try to forge a new life and overcome her grief. Why Wales? Does this place have a personal connection?
I’d love to tell you that there was a deep reason for her choosing Wales, but Jenna heads blindly towards the West of England, not knowing or caring where she was going. For my part, I needed Jenna to be somewhere rural and isolated, but within a relatively manageable drive of her home town, which is Bristol. South West Wales fitted the bill perfectly, and while I was researching it I fell in love with Three Cliffs Bay: a stunning beach on the Gower Peninsula. The fictional places in I Let You Go are based on this area.
I know that your previous career was with the police services and you spent some time in CID. Did this influence your story or your writing in any way?
I was a police officer for 12 years, including some time as a detective, so it’s not really surprising I’m writing crime now. My background enables me to add authenticity to the police scenes in I Let You Go, and in fact the whole story was inspired by a case which really affected me when I first joined the police. A nine year old boy was killed in a hit-and-run in Oxford, and the case was never solved. I couldn’t get it out of my head – how could the driver live with what they’d done?
It sends a shiver down my spine, Clare.
When I develop characters, I tend to draw on some of my own traits, negative and positive as well as the characteristics of people I’ve met in life. Did you do that when developing DI Ray Stevens or is he purely created from your imagination?
That would be telling! Ray is a really lovely man, and a tenacious detective, but he spends far too much time at work, and not nearly enough time with his family. Those qualities could apply to dozens of my former colleagues, but that’s as far as it goes – he’s completely fictional, I promise. That said, I ‘collect’ characteristics from everyone I meet – I think every writer does – and most end up in my writing at some stage.
Ooo, I wonder which one of my characteristics you collected…..
I must say, from what I’ve learned so far I really like Ray, faults and all. Will he be appearing in your next novel?
Thank you. I like Ray too, but I have no plans to write series crime, or indeed to write straight police procedurals. I love writing psychological thrillers, and I’m more interested in the ‘why dunnit’ than the ‘who dunnit’.
When is the next novel out?
I’ve just finished the first draft of book two, which has a working title of Do No Harm, and I’ll be working on revisions for the next six months or so, at the same time as planning book three. It’ll be out in ebook and trade paperback in autumn 2015, and in paperback the following spring.
Sounds like you will be extremely busy over the next years.