Article published on August 12, 2016.
When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it’s there. There’s no explanation, no website: just a grainy image and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it’s just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.
Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make…
Reviewer and BookDiva contributor Sheila A. Grant loved Clare’s bestselling debut I Let You Go so much we arranged for her to be sent an early copy of I See You. She was just as impressed, declaring, ‘Only the most gifted of thriller writers can juggle the characters in a book to such an extent that the denouement is so sudden and totally unexpected, that it left this reader breathless.’
Sheila was dying to ask Clare some questions after reading so we sent them on and Clare graciously replied…
SG: Your first novel I Let You Go was a resounding success. Did you feel pressurised worrying that the second would keep the standard of the first?
CM: I did feel under pressure for a while, but you can drive yourself mad, worrying about what other people think, so in the end I just concentrated on writing the best story I possibly could.
I See You includes stalking and internet crime and as in your first book women are the targeted victims. Was that a deliberate theme?
It wasn’t a ‘theme’, as such, just the focus of this particular set of crimes. It is something that – sadly – accurately reflects real life, where women are far more likely to be targeted than men. That’s not to say that men aren’t victims of crime – perhaps I’ll tackle that in some other book!
What came first to mind? The location of the opening chapter, or the characters, or the use of the internet for nefarious purposes?
The concept came first: the idea that we are all creatures of habit, and that we find familiar routines very comforting – they make us feel safe, yet they put us at risk. It was a perfect premise to explore in a psychological thriller.
Did you have an ending in mind when you started? The denouement in this book totally took my breath away. (I had suspected every male character in the book at one time or another!)
I’m delighted to hear it! The ending changed as I wrote the book, with the offender changing at least once!
Your characterisation is superb. Everyone featured in the book is so real and believable. Even the police officers behave and talk as I imagine they do in real life. Have you based any of them on officers you knew….or is it better that you do not say?
Despite what my former colleagues think, I haven’t based any of my characters on them! I firmly believe that the best stories are character-driven, so it’s important to me to make them feel real.
You were a policewoman and your knowledge of procedure is extensive. Is the theme of this book linked to a case or cases that you encountered when working?
Not exactly, although I dealt with lots of investigations that involved elements of harassment and cybercrime. It’s a tricky balance: too much procedure can be very dull to read, and too much accuracy would make it a very slow investigation!
Neil is a shadowy figure in the background yet we discover he had a role to play. Why do I think you originally had other ideas for him? Have you plans to use him in a future book?
How interesting! No, I never had any plans for Neil, but who knows?
Did you have the idea for this particular book before you became a full time writer?
No, although the story has been kicking around in my head for a while, and while I was writing I Let You Go it was nagging me to be written.
Are you an owl or a lark when writing?
Neither. Is there a bird that works only during school hours? That’s me.
What is the hardest and most stressful job: Police officer or writer?
Police officer, of course! Despite the moans you’ll hear from writers, the stress levels simply aren’t comparable. I’d take the tightest deadline; the worst writer’s block, over football duty in the pouring rain, with a hundred drunk hooligans chucking bottles at me!
Am I correct in thinking there is going to be a sequel to I See You?
I haven’t planned a sequel, but whereas I found it easy to move on from I Let You Go, I’m struggling to leave I See You behind. I would very much like to return to Kelly and Nick, my central police characters, and see how they fare with another investigation.
If the answer is no have you started your next book?
I’m writing my third book at the moment. It doesn’t have a title, and I can’t tell you much about the story, but my research currently involves child grooming cases; women’s prisons; and fire-starting…
Thanks to both for providing some insight into what is sure to be another bestseller for Clare (in fact, it has already just become number one in hardback fiction!) – we look forward to the third!
About the author
Clare Mackintosh spent twelve years in the police force, including time on CID, and as a public order commander. She left the police in 2011 to work as a freelance journalist and social media consultant and is the founder of the Chipping Norton Literary Festival. She now writes full time and lives in the Cotswolds with her husband and their three children. Clare’s debut novel, I Let You Go, was a Sunday Times Bestseller and the fastest selling title by a new crime writer in 2015. It was selected for both the Richard and Judy Book Club, and was the winning title of the readers’ vote for the summer 2015 selection, and ITV’s Loose Women’s ‘Loose Books’. It has been shortlisted for the British Book Industry Awards Debut Book of the Year. Rights have been sold in 29 territories.
Find out more about Clare and what she’s been up to at claremackintosh.com
Follow Clare on Twitter @claremackint0sh
I See You by Clare Mackintosh, published by Sphere on 28 July, 2016 in hardback at £12.99
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