Wednesday, 28 March 2018

The Fear Blog Tour: Q&A with C.L. Taylor

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on The Fear Blog Tour! Today I'm so excited to be interviewing one of my favourite thriller writers C.L. Taylor where we're talking about trauma, writing inspiration and being a bestselling author.

Q1.) Hi C.L. Taylor, welcome to the blog! I absolutely loved The Fear, what sparked the idea behind it? 

Hi Jess, thanks so much for having me on your blog.

I’d had the basic idea for The Fear for a while but it wasn’t until last year that it all started to come together. Without wanting to give too much away I wanted to write a novel about the power play between a prisoner and their captor but, when I sat down to write it I realised I had the back story all wrong. Instead of my main character confronting the man who was responsible for her sister’s disappearance eighteen years earlier she would be confronting the man who groomed and seduced her as a teenager and convinced her to run away to France with him. The idea immediately appealed. It was so much more powerful and – importantly to me – unusual than my original idea. There was one particularly high profile news story about a school girl who ran away with her teacher that dominated the paper for months. I was interested, not so much in the grooming angle, but on the impact that experience would have on the girl as she became a woman and started relationships with other men.

Q2.) What can fans of your previous thrillers expect from this one?

The Fear is slightly different from my other books (where women find themselves in strange or dangerous situations) because Lou actively goes after Mike, to confront him for what he did to her when she was fourteen. She’s the strongest, most pro-active female character I’ve written so far, although she’s also quite vulnerable. I also write from the point of view of Wendy and Chloe, the other women in the book and I think what makes the book quite powerful is that each of their stories are gripping and unusual and, when they all meet for the first time…well, that would be telling.

Q3.) The characters in your books typically deal with some sort of trauma and this is especially the case in The Fear, how do you get into that mind set to be able to write their stories? 

You’re absolutely right about that, my poor characters! When I start writing my books I normally know what each character wants (their goal), what their flaw is and what they fear. I spend a lot of time thinking about their past. What happened before the stories starts that made them the way they are? We’re all the result of our childhood and the relationships we’ve had since, whether we like it or not and I spend a lot of time thinking about my character’s pasts. Once I know all that it’s normally time to start the first draft. I think this is true of most writers but, when I write from the point of view of my characters, I become them. I see what they see, hear what they hear, feel what they feel. That makes writing traumatic scenes from their point of view really emotionally taxing because I’m feeling their fear, anticipation or dread. To get myself in the mood to go to a dark place in my mind I often write those scenes at night, with a couple of candles burning and some atmospheric instrumental music playing. Afterwards I’ll leave my study and go and watch something light hearted on the TV to try and shake myself back out of the character.

Q4.) Last year you released your first YA book The Treatment do you have any plans to return to the genre? 

I do! I’ve got a two book contract with HarperCollins HQ for young adult thrillers and, hopefully, I’ll be writing the second one this year. It’s going to be a little tricky through as the publishing process for the adult psychological thriller I’m writing now goes on until mid-September so I’ll have to try and write the young adult book in the two week gaps where my editor’s doing her structural and line edits or the copyeditor is doing her thing.

Q5.) What’s been your best moment as an author so far? 

I’m very lucky in that I’ve had a lot of amazing experiences since becoming an author in 2009 and it’s hard to pinpoint just one. Holding my debut in my hands for the first time has to be a highlight. So is winning a Dead Good Books award for The Escape last year, and being presented with Specsavers Nielsen Book Awards for The Accident and The Lie this year. Oh, and being able to give up my day job to write full time was a dream come true. So maybe that.

Q6.) Do you have any advice for aspiring thriller writers? 

Watch your pace and keep the action going. I get sent a lot of proofs and I can’t possibly read them all. As a result I’m pretty brutal about putting a book down when I get bored and picking up another. There are a couple of reasons why I get bored:

1) Too much description

2) Not enough action

3) Too much (character) reflection

4) Too much repetition (of how a character is feeling or summarising events I’ve already read about)

5) The plot is predictable or OTT

Each scene in your book should move the plot forward or give the reader a valuable (not redundant) insight into a character. As my author friend Julie Cohen says ‘make shit happen’. When I read through my own first drafts I always mark on the page (or use Kindle notes) when I feel my attention waver or I’m bored and want to stop reading. If I feel like that the chances are the reader feels like that too. Inevitably the reason I’m bored is that there hasn’t been any interesting action for a while so it’s time to cut or rewrite that scene.

Q7.) What books would you recommend to fans looking for stories similar to your own?

There are so many brilliant psychological thriller authors out there that I always feel bad when I answer this question in case a friend sees it and thinks, ‘why didn’t she mention me?’ But I do see certain similarities between my style and Mark Edwards’, and Tammy Cohen is the queen of a twist ending. Oh, and I hugely recommend Lisa Jewell’s psychological thrillers. They pack an emotional punch as well as being gripping reads.

Q8.) Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on next? 

Not really as I’m only 24,000 words in and I’m superstitious about talking about a book before I’ve finished it in case it takes some of the magic away. But it will be the first of my books with a single word title and I’m hoping it will appeal to readers who really loved The Lie.

Q9.) And lastly, what three words best describe The Fear

Tense, claustrophobic and gripping.

 Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

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