I am pleased to be kicking off the blog tour for You Let Me In and I am pleased to welcome its author Lucy Clarke to Novel Kicks today. Hello Lucy. Can you tell me about your new novel, You Let Me In and what inspired it?
The novel is about a bestselling author, Elle, who rents out her beautiful cliff-top home in Cornwall. When she returns, she immediately senses a shift in the atmosphere: a shard of broken glass embedded in the carpet; her writing room left unlocked; the word LIAR scratched into her desk. As Elle’s unease mounts, she begins to wonder exactly who has been in her home . . . and what they’ve discovered.
The idea for the novel came when I was in my own writing room, daydreaming about travelling. My husband and I had been chatting about the possibility of renting our house to fund a longer trip. From the corner of my eye, I noticed the ancient oak trunk that houses all my diaries, journals, photos, notebooks, and old love-letters. I began to wonder what I’d do with it if the house were rented to strangers. There is no lock on the trunk, and it’s so heavy that it’d be almost impossible to heave it through the hatch to our loft. I realised I’d just have to leave it where it was – sitting in the corner of my writing room. But what if, chimed my writer’s voice, someone went through the trunk? What then? That was my starting point for YOU LET ME IN.
What’s your approach to the writing process like and how has it changed since your first novel?
I always write my first draft by hand – I love the connectivity of ideas to page. I typically write several drafts, layering as I go. I might focus on a particular theme in one draft, or the pace in another, and it’s a way of helping me dive deeper to create more complex characters and plot lines.
YOU LET ME IN is my fifth novel and I suppose one of the key ways my writing process has changed is that I don’t tend to plot out the second half of my novels. I think I have the confidence to know it’s okay to be led by my characters and to allow myself to be surprised.
What’s your typical writing day like? Do you prefer to write in silence? Need coffee etc.
I write Monday-Friday, 7.30am-12.30pm. During those five hours, I turn off the internet and my phone. I can write anywhere – at my desk, in a café, on a train – but my favourite place to write is from our beach hut, which is where I spend most of the summer. In the afternoons, I’m back to being ‘mama’ to my two young children.
What’s your favourite word and why?
I’ve never thought about this . . . but I’m going to say, SHERBERT. Now there’s a word that fizzes on the tongue!
Which authors do you admire and why?
I love reading psychological thrillers, and some of my favourite authors in this genre include Megan Abbott, Sabine Durrant, Clare Mackintosh, C.L.Taylor, and Gillian McAllister. I love reading well-written women’s fiction, like Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere, and writers like Liane Moriarty who blend meaty morality issues with a light touch and sense of humour. My literary idol is Maggie O’Farrell – and I regularly re-read her wonderful novels. Tim Winton and Favel Parrett are two other favourite authors, who write about landscapes and seascapes with unrivalled beauty.
What elements do you think need to be there in a novel?
I think the only element that is essential is that the author is passionate about their story. That they are intrigued or fascinated by their characters, or the theme, or the setting. That authenticity (or lack of it) always shows.
Which fictional character would you like to have a conversation with and what would you talk about?
I’d like to talk about fishing, books, and the sea, with Luther Fox in Tim Winton’s Dirt Music.
What’s your advice for someone suffering writers block?
Read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s the best book I’ve ever read about the creative process of writing a novel.
Any other advice to someone who is thinking of writing a novel?
If you love writing, then keep going and going. Don’t cage yourself with limits and expectations: ‘If it doesn’t get published, then I’ll know I’m no good.’ If you are enjoying what you are doing, then it is time well spent.
My verdict on You Let Me In…
Nothing has felt right since Elle rented out her house . . .
I’M IN YOUR HOUSE
There’s a new coldness. A shift in the atmosphere. The prickling feeling that someone is watching her every move from the shadows.
I’M IN YOUR HEAD
Maybe it’s all in Elle’s mind? She’s a writer – her imagination, after all, is her strength. And yet every threat seems personal. As if someone has discovered the secrets that keep her awake at night.
AND NOW I KNOW YOUR SECRET
As fear and paranoia close in, Elle’s own home becomes a prison. Someone is unlocking her past – and she’s given them the key…
Elle Fielding is a best-selling author. Her debut novel was a great success and won her numerous awards. It allowed her to buy a cottage on a cliff top in Cornwall and rebuild, integrating her perfect writing room. It also brought her closer to her sister, Fiona who is a mother to Drake and a freelance copy editor. To her fans and followers on her social media account, Elle seems to have the perfect life.
Things however are not what they seem. The writing of her second novel is not going so well. Also, when arriving home from a writing retreat, having rented her house out on Airbnb, she feels that something is off when she sets foot in her house. Something she can’t put her finger on. Is her ‘perfect life’ about to crumble around her?
I am a huge fan of Lucy Clarke’s novels so when I got the chance to take part in the blog tour for her new novel, You Let Me In, I jumped at the chance. Whenever an author you admire releases a new novel, there is excitement but also a little trepidation that the new book isn’t going to live up to the previous ones you’ve loved. I had nothing to worry about with You Let Me In and I knew this from the first compelling page. I immediately got drawn into Elle’s story.
Elle is a conflicted character. I could sense that there were elements of her past that the reader doesn’t yet know and so I went in and out of having empathy for her. I made assumptions about her as a character – whether she was trustworthy or not. Whether she is or isn’t is something you need to find out for yourself.
The setting for the book sounds so idyllic, I want to move there immediately. It made me miss my hometown where I grew up near the beach. I could hear the crashing of the waves and feel the sea air.
The plot unravels at a really good pace. Lucy Clarke gives us various clues throughout the book pointing to a range of scenarios and explanations of what could be happening. Just when I thought I had a grip on who is tormenting Elle or what is happening, another plot twist would emerge and I’d be suspecting something or someone different. As psychological thrillers go, this one is probably one of the best ones I have read. There was really nothing I didn’t like about it.
As September begins and those lighter evenings begin to disappear, in my opinion, this is a perfect novel to curl up with.
Lucy Clarke is the bestselling author of five psychological thrillers – THE SEA SISTERS, A SINGLE BREATH, THE BLUE/NO ESCAPE, LAST SEEN and YOU LET ME IN. Her debut novel was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick, and her books have been translated into 12 languages.
Lucy is a passionate traveller and fresh air enthusiast. She’s married to a professional windsurfer and, together with their two young children, they spend their winters travelling and their summers at home on the south coast of England. Lucy writes from a beach hut.
You Let Me In will be available in most UK book shops from 6th September. The eBook has been released is currently 99 pence on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk (price correct at time of post publication.)