Hello Rachel, thank you for joining us. We’re delighted to be part of your blog tour. Your new novel is called Stranger Child. What’s it about and what inspired it?
If I had to find one word which sums up what Stranger Child is about, it would have to be revenge – but that nowhere near covers it.
Emma Jacobs met David – now her husband – several years ago, but they lost touch when she went to Australia. When she came back, she was horrified to learn that David’s first wife had been killed in a car accident, and his six-year-old daughter had disappeared from the scene. Now, six years later, Emma and David have put the past behind them and are happily married with a new baby, Ollie.
And then a stranger walks into their lives, and their world falls apart.
Emma discovers things about her own past that shock her, and when she contacts her old friend DCI Tom Douglas for help, their pursuit of the truth sets in motion a series of terrifying events that neither of them could have imagined.
Emotions run high in this book, and each of the main characters has to face a dilemma that nobody should ever have to deal with.
Can you tell us a little about your route to publication?
I am extremely fortunate in having an amazing agent who really looks after me well. I start with an idea of the story and the characters, and I send it to her. She mulls it over and comes back with the things she likes and the things she hates, and somehow or other we knock the outline into shape.
And then I write. I do nothing else – just sit at my desk and write. I love it, but the first draft is always pretty dire. However, it creates the framework, and from there I can go back and work out the detail.
When I’m happy, it goes for first edit – and I know that there will be lots of changes to be made. These are structural – sometimes quite major – but always good. There are a couple of rounds with the editors, and then it goes to line edit where we argue about the detail. Is this sentence necessary? Would we lose anything if we chopped out this paragraph? Then finally the copy edit – when I’m always surprised at the little details that I’ve missed.
We have Advance Review Copies prepared in paperback – this is something we have started with Stranger Child – and my publicists send out copies to anybody who is keen to review the book.
And as an independent author, I also have to think about the marketing, the cover, the blurb – it’s very much a full time job at every stage.
When Emma Joseph met her husband David, he was a man shattered by grief. His first wife had been killed outright when her car veered off the road. Just as tragically, their six-year-old daughter mysteriously vanished from the scene of the accident.
Now, six years later, Emma believes the painful years are behind them. She and David have built a new life together and have a beautiful baby son, Ollie.
Then a stranger walks into their lives, and their world tilts on its axis.
Emma’s life no longer feels secure. Does she know what really happened all those years ago? And why does she feel so frightened for herself and for her baby?
When a desperate Emma reaches out to her old friend DCI Tom Douglas for help, she puts all their lives in jeopardy. Before long, a web of deceit is revealed that shocks both Emma and Tom to the core.
They say you should never trust a stranger. Maybe they’re right.
(Warning: a couple of spoilers.)
This was my first book from author, Rachel Abbott. From the first page, this book had me hooked. I do like books like this; physiological thrillers that I can’t seem to put down. I was reading this book into the early hours where I looked up and suddenly realised it was three am.
This month, we launched our new competition, Which Book is This Anyway?
The prize is a book but we’ve not revealed the title and won’t until the winner receives it.
Many of us judge books by their covers and make our choices based on that and the accompanying blurb. Our new competition adds a little mystery.
It could be a recent new release or a well-known classic. Who knows? We’ve not even revealed the genre. It’s a surprise.
All we did say about this book is that ‘It is a highly emotive story which focuses on two people and the unusual friendship that develops between them.’
The writing process for How I Left The National was so distinct from that of my two previous novels, that it was almost like learning to play the keyboard after you’ve been playing guitar. This seems an apt, if somewhat pretentious description, given that this novel follows the story of an eighties post-punk musician, Robert Wardner. Wardner vanishes after a particularly controversial appearance on Top Of The Pops. During this performance he commits a shocking act which, during the more buttoned-up era of 80s Britain, causes enough of an impact that he never recovers.
My first novel, The Intimates, was mostly written over an intense eight-week period when I was 21. I lived and breathed the novel every single day almost in a hallucinogenic way. My second novel, Letters from Yelena, was written over a year and a half, and its writing coincided with a research trip to Russia in which a great deal of information about the world of Russian ballet was absorbed. This novel was set mainly in 80s Manchester, only a few hours away from me.
Somehow, it took over three years.
Hello Jen. Thank you for joining us. Firstly, congratulations on The Bookshop Book becoming the official book for the 2014 Books are my Bag campaign. Can you tell us a little about it and how you developed the idea for the book?
Thank you! Well, I’ve always loved bookshops; they’re magical places full of nostalgia and possibility. They’re places to get lost in, and discover different worlds. I’ve worked in bookselling for the past seven years (since working part-time whilst completing my degree), and I’ve written a couple of books about the weird things that customers say in bookshops (because lots of weird things are said!). However, I also wanted to showcase the other side of the bookselling world: the bizarre but wonderful stories hidden behind the shelves; the history of the bookshop; the idea of the travelling bookshop, and bookshops in remote places… Book touring with Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops led me to places such as Wigtown, a fantastic town with a dozen bookshops on the west coast of Scotland, which led me to discover that there’s an International Organisation of Book Towns – with several Book Towns across Europe and one in Australia in an old gold mining town. There are so many wonderful places out there that I thought needed to be shouted about: such as a bookshop in Africa that also sells cows, and a man in America called Walter Swan who opened up a bookshop that only stocked his book and nothing else… So, I asked my editor if I could write a book about weirdly wonderful bookshops around the world… and he said yes!
Did you visit all of the shops mentioned in The Bookshop Book?
The Bookshop Book looks at over 300 bookshops across six continents, so sadly I didn’t get to visit them all – though I spoke to people who had. I got to most of the bookshops in the UK, Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam (where I lived on a houseboat for a few days). When I was writing the book, I’d get up early and Skype with booksellers in Asia (like Ayuko, who runs a sushi-making class inside a bookshop), and Australia/NZ; then I’d go to work in my own bookshop, before skyping with booksellers in North America in the evening. So, I felt as though I was living in several different time zones – it was a bizarre, but wonderful, time. Continue reading
Fourth Estate, 2010.
This week, the Independent published a list of the best novels from the past two decades. A panel of literary experts have put together the list which helped mark the 20th Anniversary of the Bath Literature Festival.
The list was topped by Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel which has ‘transformed the literary landscape’ according to artistic director, Viv Groskop.
I have to admit, I’ve only read one of the books listed below and that is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon (which I very much enjoyed.) There are a few that are on my TBR pile though. Do you agree with this list?
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
American Pastoral by Philip Roth