Q&A with Charlotte Williams
26 February 2013
By Pan Macmillan
How would you sum up The House on the Cliff in one line?
The story of a psychotherapist who discovers a murder, and finds out a few things about herself in the process . . .
What inspired you to write this story?
I liked the idea of a psychotherapist ‘detective’, someone who is well placed to hear about troubled situations, and who pays attention to the behaviour and motivations of others.
Is the character of Jessica Mayhew based on yourself or anyone you know?
Had I followed a different career path, perhaps I would have been a little like Jessica. However, she is mostly herself - an invention.
What is your writing routine and how long did it take to write The House on the Cliff?
I write from 9am to 2pm Monday to Friday, and spend the afternoons researching, dealing with emails, and so on. In the early evening, I go for a walk, which gives me time to think about what I’ve written that day.
What do you like best about being a writer?
Being able to immerse myself, undisturbed, in a fictional world; creating characters who become like real people to me; and having a sense of communicating with potential readers.
What do you find hardest about being a writer?
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Try to come up with a simple, solid plot idea before you start work. This helps to set the pace of the narrative, the behaviour of each character, and so on, making the whole enterprise easier (even if you change the plot as you go along – which you will).
What do you enjoy reading? And which books have inspired you to write?
The novels that have inspired me most are the ones I read in my childhood, mostly classics such as the Bront�s, Dickens, Wodehouse, and Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle. In crime fiction, I love Raymond Chandler, Elmore Leonard, Barbara Vine, and Kate Atkinson. Currently, as well as fiction, I read a lot about psychology and philosophy. I also read Rimbaud aloud in an attempt to improve my French accent, which my family does not appreciate!
What do you hope readers will take away from your novels?
First and foremost, the pleasure of having a good book on the go, a story to lose yourself in, and a companionable voice to listen to; second, some themes and issues to mull over once the book is finished.
What can readers look forward to next from you?
I am currently writing the next Jessica Mayhew novel, in which she delves into the art world . . . and her family life becomes more complicated.
Do you write, or want to write? Let author David Jackson walk you through the ups and downs of writing