Today I interview Clare Chase and Sarah Waights. And at the end there is a giveaway :)
First up is Clare:
Thanks so much for inviting me on to your blog; it’s lovely to be here!
1. Tell me about yourself?
I got hooked on mysteries with a romantic element a long time ago, and I write what I enjoy reading! I love the pulse-racing mix of romantic drama and criminal intrigue.
I read English Literature at London University, and went on to work in author and book promotion. I organised events in all sorts of venues, from prisons to pubs. (Both those settings were useful for research!)
More recently I’ve worked in public relations (which turned out to be great practice for creative writing...) and also fundraising.
When I’m not reading or working on a book, I love cooking, drawing and exploring the galleries and cafes of Cambridge, where I live with my husband and teenage daughters.
2. And your new story, You Think You Know Me?
It’s a murder mystery set in London and the UK’s Lake District in the run-up to Christmas. Journalist, Anna Morris, meets a stranger in a smart city gallery. She falls for him on sight; but that’s before she realises he’s given her a false name... Torn between backing off and allowing him to explain, Anna gets drawn in. Before she knows it, she’s part of a history that’s already been written, where a little knowledge is a very dangerous thing.
The story is set in the arts world, which has always fascinated me. My mother trained as an illustrator, and my brother’s an artist, so that’s had an influence. The sector also provides lots of potential for mystery fiction. The proceeds from art and antiques crime in the UK are second only to those from drugs.
3. What inspired you to become an author?
It sounds like a cliché, but I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to write. Even my genre preference seems to go back a long way. I found a school book from when I was ten that’s filled with mini mystery stories. I’ve always loved reading novels that mix romance and intrigue, too. Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn was a firm favourite. I also devoured the works of Mary Stewart, and romantic thrillers like Jilly Cooper’s Bella. That reading diet inspired me to keep going!
4. Are you working on something at the moment?
Yes, a new mystery set in my home city of Cambridge. It’s about Ruby, who’s house-sitting for a man she’s never met, having made a bolt from home. Within days she’s caught up in the unhealthy relationships he’s formed and, when one of his contacts finally snaps, she finds herself enmeshed in a chain of deadly consequences. It’s a race against time to discover who’s meting out their version of justice.
Ex-PI, Nate Bastable gets drawn into her search for the truth. But why did he give up his old job? Ruby ends up with two mysteries to solve…
Sometimes, it’s not easy to tell the good guys from the bad …
Freelance journalist, Anna Morris, is struggling to make a name for herself, so she’s delighted to attend a launch event for a hip, young artist at her friend Seb’s gallery.
But an exclusive interview isn’t all Anna comes away with. After an encounter with the enigmatic Darrick Farron, she is flung into the shady underground of the art scene – a world of underhand dealings, missing paintings and mysterious deaths …
Seb is intent on convincing Anna that Darrick is up to no good but, try as she might, she can’t seem to keep away from him. And as she becomes further embroiled, Anna begins to wonder – can Seb’s behaviour be explained away as the well-intentioned concern of an old friend, or does he have something to hide?
And now on to Sarah:
1.Tell me about yourself?
First of all, hello and thank you for having me… it’s lovely to be invited onto your blog ... and what a fabulous first question! Doesn’t everyone just love talking about themselves? I could go on and on...
I remember writing my first book at five years old. It was about a squirrel as I recall. I was sent to show it to the scary headmaster who patiently ploughed through the entire thing and wrote a nice comment on the back page which, because of the joined up handwriting, I didn’t manage to read until years later. My first review!
I was sent to boarding school when I was nine, because my father was in the air force and diplomatic corps, and was posted overseas a lot. That was when the avid (OK, obsessive) reading started. I read absolutely everything I could get my hands on but my favourites were the smuggled in, heavily dog-eared novels by authors like Danielle Steele and Virginia Andrews. My goodness I loved them, the more dramatic the better. I also started creating great long narratives in my head, with me as the plucky heroine getting up to all sorts of ridiculous things which my handsome hero, modelled loosely on David Essex or Oliver Tobias, was terribly impressed by. There was an awful lot of being swept up into his arms too - although I was a bit hazy about what happened after that.
I only really joined planet earth again in my late teens when I was required to decide what I wanted to do next. Oddly, I settled on becoming a classical singer and went off to do a music degree. It didn’t lead to anything very much because I never overcame my crippling performance nerves, which I probably wouldn’t have had if I’d been more talented. I then ended up working in PR, which I was much better suited to because it involved a lot of writing. The great limitation of writing for PR is that making stuff up is frowned upon, so – when I was on maternity leave – I started writing my first novel. I didn’t finish it until child number two came along five years later. It is still unpublished. I’m definitely a late developer.
2.And your new story, ‘Never Marry A Politician’?
There are two main drivers for the story and the setting here. The first is that, having seen my mother being just as tied to my father’s job as he was, I wanted to explore what happens in a marriage where one person commits to living a life dictated almost entirely by the other’s career choice. My poor heroine, Emily, struggles hugely with the pressure to be a perfect politician’s wife, constantly toeing the party line and never daring to have an opinion on anything until the party has told her what it is. When her ex-lover journalist Matt turns up, he unsettles her, not only because of the overwhelming attraction between them, but also because he challenges her to be herself again, something she hardly dares to believe she can be, or, at least, not without toppling her marriage at the worst possible time in her husband Ralph’s career.
Of course there are lots of settings where I could have explored these ideas but the world of politics is so perfect because it is full of egotism, ambition and lies. It is a world where how things look is so much more important than how things truly are. Matt’s role is to rip away the artifice and expose the truth, which Emily is frightened to let him do because she has learned it’s safer to suppress her real feelings and, with two children to think about, she has a lot to lose. The big question, throughout the book, is whether she will allow Matt to persuade her to break free, or if she is too trapped in the life she has created with her husband Ralph.
Emily’s character is great fun to write because of the mess she gets herself into whenever she opens her mouth. Try as she might, she is desperately ‘politically incorrect’ (my original title) and Ralph’s party spend most of their time trying to keep her under control. I treasure the comment from one reviewer where they likened Emily’s character to Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones. I hope I have captured some of that comic eccentricity in Emily’s voice.
3. What inspired you to become an author?
Goodness knows why I thought it would be a good idea … I think initially it was an intellectual challenge just to see if I could actually write a full length novel. And then there was a long period where the challenge was to write a GOOD full length novel. And then it was all about finding a way to get published. I struck gold with Choc Lit who agreed to put my early manuscript in front of its panel of real readers. As far as I know, they are the only publishers who screen submissions like this and it’s a brilliant way to pick the best stories. It was my proudest moment to date, when I heard from the Choc Lit team that the readers liked my book. At the end of the day, it’s the only thing that counts. Seeing ‘Never Marry ...’ being read and reviewed by real people (who aren’t even my mum, or anything) and actually saying they enjoyed it is the best thing ever. I’m hooked. I hope I will be able to carry on getting my stories in front of readers for years to come because, however enjoyable it is to write - and it really is - my aim is to be read.
4. Are you working on something at the moment?
Ah, well, there’s the thing… I have two books on the go at the moment and I am frankly failing to get on with either because I can’t decide which one I want to write the most. Perhaps your readers can help me choose which one they would most want to read:
Devon and Hell - When her godfather has a heart attack Maddy rushes to his aid, even though it means returning to the scene of a devastating event which changed her life – if only she could remember what it was… Shocked to discover Cecil’s beloved pub is set to be closed by its owners she works hard to transform its fortunes despite the best efforts of his enemies, seen and unseen. She is also using her marketing talents to help local artisan friends capture the imaginations of the country’s homes and interiors fashionistas. Soon Maddy buckles under the pressure of her godfather’s illness, saving the pub, helping her friends and keeping her London business and boyfriend happy, and returning memories of a past traumatic event threaten to overwhelm her. As her life starts to unravel ex-army psychology lecturer Ben may be the only one who can help – if she can bring herself to let him.
Saving Grace - When newspaper boss Kevin ‘what’s the story’ Whatling decides that – actually – his wife understands him after all, Grace is dumped, finding herself suddenly single and out of a job...
With her journalistic career floundering she turns to her flamboyant brother Julian for help and is quickly engaged to write the memoirs of Rosalind, retired grande dame of espionage. At the older woman’s secluded country retreat Grace meets Rosalind’s son Guy, an uncompromisingly tough aid worker.
Unfortunately, Guy loathes journalists in general and Grace in particular. When she is whisked off – against his wishes – as the embedded journalist to report on his latest rescue mission, sparks are set to fly. Her reporting grabs the attention of the world but, when her hunger for a story leads her to ignore her own safety, Guy has to switch from saving the world to saving Grace…
Which one shall I do? Please comment, tweet, post and let me know!
‘Never, under any circumstances, marry a politician …’
In trying to be the model wife to Ralph, a fiercely ambitious politician, Emily has betrayed her heart and her principles. Once she was a promising journalist, but now reluctant domestic goddess is more her scene.
When unexpected events lead to Ralph becoming a candidate for Prime Minster, Emily finds maintaining the façade of picture-perfect family life an increasing struggle –especially when her romantic past comes back to haunt her in the form of tough-talking journalist, Matt Morley.
Matt is highly skilled at ‘digging the dirt’ and, sure enough, Ralph has a sordid secret that is soon uncovered. In the aftermath of the discovery, will Emily finally find the courage to be true to herself, or is she stuck in the world of PR tactics and photo opportunities for good?
Finalist in the 2014 Good Housekeeping Novel Writing Competition.
A chance to win ebook copies of both books.
1. Open to everyone in the world.
2. Ends December 31st
3. To enter, answer Sarah's question ;)