Today it's my pleasure to kick off the blog tour for The Other Child with a Q&A with author Lucy Atkins.
Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book The Other Child?
The Other Child is about the effects of a catastrophic marital secret. Photographer Tess falls in love with Greg, a paediatric heart surgeon, and almost immediately, she gets pregnant and Greg is offered his dream job back in Boston, USA, his hometown. They relocate, along with Tess’s nine year old son, Joe, but Tess finds that life in a wealthy Boston suburb isn’t straightforward: creepy things start happening in their large rented house; Tess thinks she’s being watched, the neighbours are behaving oddly, Joe is deeply homesick, and the pregnancy feels fragile. Then, among Greg’s things, Tess finds something that threatens to destroy everything she loves.
Things progress fast between Tess and Greg, how would you describe their relationship?
Tess and Greg really are deeply in love. They’ve recognized something in each other and deep down, they just ‘fit’ together - that’s at the core of everything that happens to them. But the question is: is love enough?
Both of your books so far have been set overseas, British Columbia and Boston, have you any plans to write a book set in the UK?
Yes, I think so. The book I am just starting to imagine would be set mostly in the UK (though there might be an element of the USA in there – I’ve lived in the States three times now, and it’s in my heart, I can’t leave it alone)
How did you find the writing process different from when you were writing your debut novel The Missing One?
It was far more intense because, when Quercus bought The Missing One, I signed a two book deal, which meant I had to sit down and write to a deadline. I’d learned a lot from writing The Missing One, and the deal meant that I was able to turn down work commitments and be a full time novelist, so it was possible. But it was a full on 18 months.
What do you think are the essential ingredients that make a gripping, intense thriller?
I think there has to be something profound at stake, and the reader has to believe in it. With The Other Child, what’s at stake is the family Tess has constructed: the safety of her son, her unborn child, and their future together. I also think there has to be intrigue: you have to keep the reader guessing.
What drew you into writing in the psychological thriller genre as opposed to any other? And have you any plans to try your hand at writing something different in the future?
I never planned to write psychological thrillers, and just found myself doing so when the plot of The Missing One started to take shape (I am not a planner!). I’d written an unpublishable comic novel before that, and so it was a big surprise to me that suddenly, I found myself going in a completely new direction. But it felt right.
Are you able to give us a hint as to what you're currently working on?
I am at the very, very earliest stages of thinking about it….so not really. But I can say I’ve been having a fun time researching Dung Beetles (yes, really) and Edwardian medical schools. (Sharon - what a combination... sounds intriguing!)
How did your writing journey start?
Like almost every novelist, I have written for almost as long as I can remember. I have a ‘novella’ that I wrote and illustrated aged 9. I didn’t want to do anything else. I made a living from writing journalism and non-fiction for years, but it took me a very long time (I was 40) to get up the courage to try my hand at a novel.
What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
The writer Rachel Hore told me to put a ‘title page’ on my word document. This stops you opening your novel every morning and going back over and over the first few pages and therefore not making progress. I still revise, revise, revise (endlessly) but doing that title page enabled me to write the first draft much faster.
Do you prefer to write at a set time of day or is it a case of fitting it in when you can?
I always try to write in the mornings as I’m a morning person and if I’m fuelled up by coffee, I can get a lot done in a few hours. After about 1pm I’m hopeless. And the idea of writing in the evenings is nonsensical for me.
What writers inspired you as a child?
I was obsessed with horses and so from the age of 5-14 I read – and I’m not exaggerating – NOTHING but pony books. My parents were sensible enough never to try to stop me, or to force me to read other things that I didn’t want to read. I then jumped straight into grown up books. So I missed all the classics: Enid Blyton, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women. I’ve now read these aloud to my children, though.
If you could write in a collaboration with another author, who would you like to write with?
I have collaborated several times with nonfiction books, but I would never be able to write with another novelist - nobody, believe me, would want to be inside my head!
When you’ve finished writing a book, do you treat yourself to a reward?
I do celebrate the publication day – when The Other Child was published last week we had a big party, with over a hundred guests, in The Story Museum in Oxford. It was a brilliant way to launch the book, and celebrate it, and I was really moved by all the support and enthusiasm. I have also consumed a LOT of chocolate in the past week.
Thanks so much Shaz for these brilliant questions, I am honoured to appear on your brilliant blog!
Facebook: Lucy Atkins Writer
Thanks for popping by Lucy. If, like me, you love the sound of The Other Child then you're in luck as thanks to Alainna at Quercus Books I have a copy to give away to a lucky follower (sorry due to publisher restrictions giveaway is open to UK residents only).
Sometimes a lie seems kinder than the truth ... but what happens when that lie destroys everything you love?.
When Tess is sent to photograph Greg, a high profile paediatric heart surgeon, she sees something troubled in his face, and feels instantly drawn to him. Their relationship quickly deepens, but then Tess, single mother to nine-year-old Joe, falls pregnant, and Greg is offered the job of a lifetime back in his hometown of Boston. Before she knows it, Tess is married, and relocating to the States. But life in an affluent American suburb proves anything but straightforward.
Unsettling things keep happening in the large rented house. Joe is distressed, the next-door neighbours are in crisis, and Tess is sure that someone is watching her. Greg's work is all-consuming and, as the baby's birth looms, he grows more and more unreachable. Something is very wrong, Tess knows it, and then she makes a jaw-dropping discovery...
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