Over the years I have read all of Claire Allan's books so when I was asked to be on the blog tour for her new book, her first psychological thriller Her Name Was Rose, I didn't hesitate to say Yes. Today I'm delighted to welcome Claire to the blog to talk about this change of direction in her writing.
It’s also mildly (read that as very) terrifying to suddenly make a right turn in your career and go off in a direction you never really thought you would, or could.
If I can let you into a little secret, I never really thought I would write a thriller. I didn’t have much of a desire to write a thriller, although I greatly admired those who did. I figured they had to be hugely clued in, super-efficient people who planned all their books to perfection.
I was not that kind of writer. My eight women’s fictions novels were all very much character based. I would start each one with a plot idea, a very strong sense of my key characters and I would let the book develop as the characters did.
Quite frequently my endings would be completely different to those I had originally considered and I was very much a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants writer.
It had served me well. My books have sold in excess of 130,000 copies. My seventh novel, The First Time I Said Goodbye, has sold incredibly well in the States and people seemed to enjoy how I wrote romance.
So why the big change? And how?
It sort of happened by accident, if the truth be told. I had been craving writing something a little more serious for a while and I sat down and wrote a very serious book about two families caught up in an adoption and the impact it had on both mothers and the adopted child herself.
It was a serious book and I was immensely proud of it. I considered it my best book and I sent it out to publishers with a hopeful heart.
But it was turned down. Again and again.
The feedback was almost always the same. It was “almost” there and they had “almost” taken it on. But it lacked something. It feel between two stools of women’s fiction and domestic noir and that, from a marketing point of view, made it hard to sell.
I was devastated.
I could have worked on that book again. Re-written it, but I felt it was time to put it in a drawer and take on the advice I had been given.
One editor suggested I could take the book, or future books, and make them into really gripping thrillers and she believed, if I allowed myself to unleash my dark side, that I could be really good at it.
I wasn’t so sure. In fact I didn’t think there was a chance I could pull it off.
But some part of me decided to give it a go. And I sat down and planned and plotted ‘Her Name Was Rose’ and I started to get excited about it. Really excited about.
At the same time I saw just what had been missing with my book in the drawer and feel relieved that book hadn’t been published after all.
Writing Her Name Was Rose was a really different experience, but a brilliant experience. It was thrilling to challenge myself to write so far outside of my comfort zone. I think it has paid off. I think Her Name Was Rose was the book I was always meant to write. I just needed to give myself permission to do so.
Her name was Rose. You watched her die. And her death has created a vacancy.
When Emily lets a stranger step out in front of her, she never imagines that split second will change her life. But after Emily watches a car plough into the young mother – killing her instantly – she finds herself unable to move on.
And then she makes a decision she can never take back.
Because Rose had everything Emily had ever dreamed of. A beautiful, loving family, a great job and a stunning home. And now Rose’s husband misses his wife, and their son needs a mother. Why couldn’t Emily fill that space?
But as Emily is about to discover, no one’s life is perfect … and not everything is as it seems.
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