Today it's my pleasure to introduce you to Clare Chase whose debut novel You Think You Know Me was published earlier this week.
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?
Thanks so much for having me on to your blog, Sharon!
Can you tell us a little bit about your debut novel You Think You Know Me?
The story is a murder mystery set in the arts world in the run-up to Christmas. The action starts in a smart London gallery when journalist, Anna Morris, meets a man she can’t resist. The attraction between them is powerful, but within hours she finds he’s lied about his identity. 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.
Where did the inspiration come from to set the story in the underground art scene?
My mother trained as an illustrator, and my brother is an artist too, so the arts world has always held a fascination for me. Watching documentaries about celebrities like Damien Hirst made me conscious of just how much money sloshes around in the sector. And where there’s money, there’s plenty of potential for crime! I’m also interested in the cult status certain artists attain, and the effect this has on the people who want to own their work, and be a part of that dream.
How much research did you have to do to enable you to write about the art world?
The novel doesn’t contain a lot of heavy-duty technical detail; it wasn’t required and would have held up the pace of the story, too. Having said that, my ideas were certainly informed by seeing various television programmes, both about art history and current superstars. Meanwhile, visiting galleries helped me conjure up the right atmosphere for the book, and websites like Sotheby’s were important when checking the value of certain artworks.
What was the best writing advice you have ever received?
This wasn’t given to me personally (I wish!), but I always keep in mind something Lee Child said on Radio 4’s Book Club. He was talking about getting the reader to turn the page and said: “The only way to [do that] is to ask a question and then don’t answer it…. People are hard-wired to seek those answers.” That seems like great advice to me.
What does a typical writing day look like for you?
During the week I work at The Royal Society of Chemistry in the mornings, in their fundraising team, so I only get started just after lunch. I normally check emails and catch up with Twitter at that point, and then get down to whatever stage I’m at, with the novel I’m working on. At the moment, I’m plotting a new mystery set in Cambridge, so I’m doing quite a bit of research. Once I’ve got an outline for a story though, I get my head down and write until my children come back from school. Not that they make me stop – they try to sneak up to their rooms, but I pester them with bothersome questions about their days. I do write at all sorts of other times too, but there’s no pattern to that – just whenever it fits!
Did you do anything exciting on publication day?
A certain amount of fizz and chocolate were consumed.
Are you going to treat yourself to something nice for publishing your first book?
My favourite luxury is a meal at a really good restaurant, so that’s the plan!
Her writing is inspired by what makes people tick, and how strong emotions can occasionally turn everyday incidents into the stuff of crime novels. It would be impossible not to mix these topics with romance and relationships; they’re central to life and drive all forms of drama.
When she’s not reading or writing, Clare enjoys drawing, cooking and trips to the Lake District. Closer to home, she loves wandering round the pubs, restaurants and galleries of Cambridge, where she lives with her husband and two teenage daughters.
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00PHXT8A8/
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PHXT8A8/