Can you tell us a little bit about Watching Edie?
Hello, thank you for having me! Watching Edie is a psychological thriller that centres on Heather and Edie and the dark secret that ended their teenage friendship. When Heather turns up unannounced on Edie’s doorstep years later, it becomes clear that our past sins can have terrifying repercussions in our present, as both women learn we can never truly escape our past.
The story revolves around an unlikely friendship between Edie and Heather and is told in a dual timeline, where did the inspiration come from?
It came from a news story about a horrific case of teenage bullying that had really dreadful consequences. I’m fascinated by the themes of guilt and culpability. The epigraph to the book is a quote from CS Lewis’ Alice in Wonderland, “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then”, and I wanted to explore whether that was true – whether a wrong turn taken during adolescence, that has horrendous consequences, can ever be forgiven, or are our past mistakes destined to define us forever more? I wanted the reader to switch allegiances throughout the book, sometimes rooting for Edie, sometimes for Heather (or neither, or both!). To do this it was important to show bit by bit what atually happened between Heather and Edie all those years ago, hence the dual timeline. I decided to show the past from Heather’s view point and the present from Edie’s because I wanted to play on the reader’s doubt about who to believe, who was wrong, who was to blame, and to think about how memory and time can alter our view of things. Both narrators are unreliable and untrustworthy to an extent.
The cover of Watching Edie is hauntingly eerie, did you get to work with the cover designers in its creation?
It’s great, isn’t it? I’m so pleased with it! Clare Ward who designed the cover (and who also designed The Girl On The Train’s cover) worked on a few different ideas and then I was invited into HarperCollins HQ to see them. This one really jumped out at me, I love it because it’s quietly sinister and, I think, very stylish.
If you had to describe Watching Edie in one sentence, what would it be?
A twisty psychological suspense story of a toxic female friendship that goes horribly wrong!
How did your writing journey start?
I’d always wanted to write a novel and then, when I was 28 I started writing my debut, The Dead Of Summer. I was working full time on the teenage girls magazine Bliss back then so wrote it at weekends and evenings. I didn’t get very far with my first draft, and lost heart with it – it just seemed way too difficult! I left it for a year and then a chance remark from a friend led me to dig it up and look at it again. I suddenly saw what was wrong with it and started rewriting it in the first person from an entirely different character’s point of view (Anita, the narrator had only had a minor walk on part initially, but there was something about her voice that I liked so I decided to give her the starring role). It took a couple of years to finish and I loved writing it, probably because I had no knowledge of how difficult it is to get published, or the sort of thing that was popular, I just wrote the book I wanted to write which turned out to be a psychological thriller. It’s a genre I’ve stuck with. I wrote my second, Little Bird a few years after that then had a break while I had my twin boys. As soon as they were old enough to give me a bit of headspace, I began Watching Edie.
Have you treated yourself to something special to celebrate your publishing deal for Watching Edie?
Yes, I took my partner to Paris for the weekend. We don’t get much alone time with two little boys to look after (my twins Albert and Sid are five), so it was a great treat.
Finally what can we expect from you next?
Another psychological thriller, this time about the dark secrets that can lurk behind even the most perfect-seeming families. It’s about 29 year old Clara whose boyfriend goes missing one night, and her search to uncover the truth of what happened to him. There are a LOT of twists along the way!
NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY
Edie is the friend that Heather has always craved. But one night, it goes terrifyingly wrong. And what started as an innocent friendship ends in two lives being destroyed.
Sixteen years later, Edie is still rebuilding her life. But Heather isn’t ready to let her forget so easily. It’s no coincidence that she shows up when Edie needs her most.
Edie or Heather?
Heather or Edie?
Someone has to pay for what happened, but who will it be?