Sarah Hilary – Someone Else’s Skin – Autumn 2014
Since my debut novel, Someone’s Else Skin, was chosen for the Richard & Judy Book Club, I’ve been busy working on the next books in the DI Marnie Rome series. It’s been an amazing year, with Someone Else’s Skin published in translation around the world, and TV rights sold too.
The best thrill has been seeing readers reacting to the first book. Some of their reactions have helped to shape the stories I’m working on now (books three and four), particularly in terms of the main cast of characters. I never think of a book as ‘finished’ until it’s in the hands of readers — they bring the final piece of the puzzle to the whole process, so it’s wonderful to have so many giving feedback and sounding so eager to read book two.
No Other Darkness (out on 23 April) sees Marnie tackling the most difficult and emotional case of her career after the discovery of the bodies of two young boys in a London garden. Working alongside DS Noah Jake, Marnie must again confront (and consult) her demons in order to arrive at the truth of what happened. Nothing’s as it first appears, and Marnie has to deploy all her wits and compassion to solve the case and bring peace to the grieving family of the dead boys.
No Other Darkness is a very different kind of story to Someone Else’s Skin, both darker and sadder, but I think readers will be intrigued and moved by this new instalment in Marnie’s story.
S. J. Watson – Before I Go To Sleep – Spring 2012
It’s been a busy time since Before I Go to Sleep was chosen as a Richard and Judy Book Club title back in the spring of 2012! I was busy promoting that book for much of the rest of that year, and I met some wonderful readers on my travels up and down the country, and abroad. In 2013 Before I Go to Sleep was turned into a movie with Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth. Though I didn’t write the screenplay I went through early drafts of the script and was lucky enough to go on set. The film was released last September, and it was incredibly exciting to be part of that. I also started doing some work with Stonewall, a charity campaigning for LGBT equality, and I’m very excited to be one of the judges on a writing competition we’ve just launched aimed at young people with the theme ‘Changing Hearts and Minds’.
And while all that was going on I’ve also been working on my new novel, which came out in February. That book is called Second Life, and it tells the story of Julia, a photographer whose perfect life is turned upside down when her sister is brutally murdered on the streets of Paris. Julia begins her own investigation into her sister’s death and the secret life she’d been leading online , a quest that will ultimately send her tumbling headlong into an exploration of her own darkest desires. I wanted to write a book that was a little different from Before I Go to Sleep, but something that people who’d liked that book would still enjoy. People tell me that’s the case, so I’m relieved! And now I’m looking forward to working on book three…
Shelley Harris – Jubilee – Summer 2012
For a debut novelist it’s an incredible thrill to have your book picked by Richard and Judy. In fact, when I was first told, it seemed like such a dream come true that I refused to believe it at all. My publisher rang to break the news and found herself reassuring me over and over again that yes, this was the real Richard and Judy, yes, they really had picked Jubilee and yes – unbelievably – I’d actually get to meet them.
Even now, three years on, it’s one of the questions I get asked most: what were they like? (For the record: as lovely as you could possibly wish. Incredibly professional, admirably well-read and very patient with me when I did a bit of microphone-bashing in my newbie nervousness.)
But the very best thing about Jubilee being picked was that it got into the hands of many, many brilliant readers who look for exactly the sort of thing in a novel that I do. R&J Bookclub readers are, as well they should be, demanding about the quality of the books they read. They want to be challenged, stimulated – and always emotionally engaged.
When I wrote my next novel, Vigilante, it was those readers who set the bar for me. I’d turned forty when I first thought of the idea for the book. Like many people when they hit that age, I suddenly started wondering: is this it? I began to think about a character who might feel such a sense of disappointment and frustration that she takes desperate measures, someone who can only cope with who she is by temporarily becoming someone else. And so Jenny Pepper was born: an ordinary woman who feels extraordinary only when she puts on a mask and cape and, dressed as a superhero, walks the streets of her town. Jenny tries, ineptly, to right wrongs, but when petty crime turns deadly serious, she’s forced to challenge her assumptions about who she really is.
That book’s out in the world now, and I’m very proud of it. I hope I’ve done justice, not just to Jenny Pepper (who is of course a living, breathing person for me) but also to those people who came to my writing courtesy of Richard and Judy. I hope they’ll love Jenny as much as I do.
James Oswald – Natural Causes – Summer 2013
I don’t think I’ve had time to catch my breath since Natural Causes was chosen to be a Richard and Judy Book Club favourite. The second book in the Inspector McLean series, The Book of Souls, went on to be a Sunday Times bestseller. Book three, The Hangman’s Song, was very well received, Book four, Dead Men’s Bones, spent two weeks in the top ten and now book five, Prayer for the Dead, is out in hardback – a first for me – and has also made the top ten. In addition to the Tony McLean books, I’ve also published three fantasy novels under the name J D Oswald, all of which are doing very well indeed. And all in the space of just two years!
I was delighted with the reception that Natural Causes had following the Richard and Judy pick, so to go from that great start to now having eight books out in such a short time is amazing. It’s been hard work, but after twenty years and more of trying to get published, this really is a dream come true. Following on from my interview with Richard and Judy, I’ve appeared on BBC Scotland’s Landward, too many radio shows to list, and most recently the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson over in the USA. It really has been a rollercoaster ride.
Fortunately I still have the cows and sheep to bring me down to earth. I’m still running the family farm, and find the two very different activities complement each other perfectly. Now if I can just persuade my bull Fergus Ruadh to write the next book…
Sinead Moriarty – Mad About You – Summer 2014
Since Mad About You was chosen for the Richard & Judy summer reads last year (one of the best days of my life!), I’ve been busy promoting my new book The Secrets Sisters Keep and writing my next book The Way We Were. That’s the thing about writing, you never really get time off. To be honest I wouldn’t want any time off. I’m always quite grumpy when I’m not writing. I’m definitely happier when I’m working on a book.
The book I have out now is called The Secrets Sisters Keep. It deals with lots of different themes. It’s a story about three siblings going through very different traumas. I wanted to write about the loneliness of being divorced in your early 40s and how frightening the prospect of spending the next 30 or 40 years alone can be. I also wanted to look at money. While having money can help take away a lot of stresses, it does not come without a price. And finally I was interested in the intense relationship between a single mother and her daughter. How a woman whose whole life is defined by her intelligence and success would cope if she found out that her beloved little daughter was different and was going to have a very challenging life.
It’s really also about sisters drifting apart but ultimately supporting each other. It’s about very modern problems that we all can relate to. I wanted to write something very true and raw. There are lots of funny parts to the book too – including one character who starts up a phone sex line to pay her bills. She finds she can talk dirty while cooking dinner and ironing – but it’s also (I hope) moving and thought provoking.
The book I have just finished writing is called The Way We Were. It’s a book about love, memories and survival. Ben and Alice are married with two daughters. Ben is a surgeon based in London. Having just turned 45, he’s been having a midlife crisis. An opportunity comes up to go to Eritrea to perform surgeries. Ben jumps at the chance to do something exciting. While there, he gets kidnapped but everyone back home thinks he’s dead. Alice and the girls are devastated. After two years in mourning, Alice finally agrees it might be time to move on. She meets Dan, an older man, divorced with grown up children. He is very wealthy and woos her with extravagant and romantic gestures. Months pass and Dan asks Alice to move in with him. After talking to her daughters, Alice agrees.
During their house warming party, the Foreign Office calls to say that Ben is alive. He escaped and will be back in London in 24 hours. Needless to say, when Ben comes back everyone’s life is turned upside down. Ben feels as if he is a stranger in his own home. Alice desperately tries to make things ‘normal’. But nothing is the same. While the girls soon find ways to get close to their Dad again, Alice doesn’t. What will Alice do? Who will she choose? Will she opt for a new life with Dan or try to go back to her old life with a husband she no longer knows? Will their memories be enough to keep them together?
There are many more previous Richard and Judy Book Club authors with books out this year – including Liza Klaussmann, Suzannah Dunn, Lucinda Riley and Louisa Young – so keep an eye out for the next releases from your favourites.