In conversation with Claire S Lewis author of She's Mine/Guest post for Yvonne at Fiction Books
Updated: May 1, 2020
Copy of blog guest interview for @fiction-books.biz in March 2019. Thank you Yvonne @Fiction_Books for inviting me.
This Blog Tour celebrates a debut novel, by a new author, so my thanks goes out to the lovely Vicky at Aria Fiction and the ever efficient NetGalley download services for my complimentary copy and for including me in the tour schedule. SHE’S MINE She was never mine to lose… When Scarlett falls asleep on a Caribbean beach she awakes to her worst nightmare – Katie is gone. With all fingers pointed to her Scarlett must risk everything to clear her name. As Scarlett begins to unravel the complicated past of Katie’s mother she begins to think there’s more to Katie’s disappearance than meets the eye. But who would want to steal a child? And how did no-one see anything on the small island? Time is running out and Scarlett is certain of only one thing – she didn’t kill Katie. Did she? … Hi Yvonne! Thank you so much for inviting me to post on your wonderful site. It’s been so inspiring browsing the thought-provoking reviews and comments on Fiction Books, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to tell your lovely readers a little bit about my debut novel, She’s Mine , and how I came to write it!
Just to introduce myself, I’m a new author represented by the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency with publisher Aria/Head of Zeus, and She’s Mine will be published in March 2019 as the first in a three-book deal. Though born in Paris with French/Russian/Welsh mix parents, I grew up in England and now live in the Surrey countryside with my husband and three teenage children.
Before I became a writer, I was an aviation lawyer for Virgin Atlantic Airways. And before that (a long time ago now!) I studied Philosophy and French Literature at Oxford University and International Relations at Cambridge University. But I’ve always loved reading and books, and always dreamt of writing a novel (an outlet for my over-active, or, as my girls would say, ‘paranoid’ imagination!). So, after an extended career break at home when my children were born, I finally took the plunge and signed up for creative writing courses with the Faber Academy in London to see if I could do it – and then I got hooked!
I love writing fiction because of the freedom it gives to escape and get lost in other worlds. And I love psychological suspense because the psychological part is enthralling – imagining what’s going on inside other people’s heads – and the suspense part is so much fun to plot because it’s what compels us to keep reading – the ‘what if?’ and the ‘what next?’ that makes us want to turn the page! When not making up stories, I love reading those of others, watching films and visiting exotic locations ‘for the purpose of research’!
She’s Mine is a psychological suspense that throws the reader straight into the drama and action with the mysterious disappearance of a little child on a sun-drenched Caribbean beach while in the care of her young nanny. It’s Scarlett’s worst nightmare when the little girl she is supposed to be looking after goes missing after she ‘falls asleep’ on the sand in the searing heat. As the police investigation gets underway Scarlett, herself barely out of her teens, gets caught up in a web of intrigue. Is Katie drowned? Lost? Has she been abducted? Though a suspect in the investigation, Scarlett turns amateur detective in a desperate attempt to find the little girl and clear her name. She stumbles on perplexing clues and witness sightings that seem to incriminate Katie’s glamorous mother Christina and her ruthless lover Damien. But the truth is more complicated and sinister…
The story is told in two timelines. Set in a tropical paradise, the present-day story is told through the eyes of Scarlett but as the search for Katie continues, a new narrator begins to recount the emotionally-intense past story by disclosing photographs taken in a series of iconic locations – an Oxford college, Chelsea, Venice and New York. These photographs reveal the dark and tragic family secrets at the heart of the mystery. And these secrets have menacing implications for Katie’s chances of being found alive…
Like many psychological thrillers, She’s Mine creates an uncertain moral universe where nothing is as it seems, and everyone is unfaithful or duplicitous in one way or another. The story plays with the delusional mental and emotional states of the characters to create intrigue and tension. Caught-up in a toxic love triangle, Lara, Gabrielle and James, the three characters in the past storyline, show the deceptions and lies the mind can work on itself and on others. It’s perhaps not giving too much away, to say that surrogacy is at the heart of the mystery and the lost child becomes the sacrificial victim in the battle of bodies, hearts and minds to possess’ her. As it says in Oscar Wilde’s, The Picture of Dorian Gray, which I quote as an epigraph to the novel:
“Those who are faithful know only the trivial side of love: it is the faithless who know love’s tragedies.”
But She’s Mine doesn’t only play with the characters’ minds. It also plays with the reader’s mind. Through the twists and turns of the story, it becomes clear that Scarlett herself is an ‘unreliable narrator’ – she is engaging and seductive and brave and adventurous, but she is also flawed and egotistical. What she tells us cannot always be trusted…so the reader must literally read between the lines to discover the final macabre and chilling truth… If you are tempted to delve into, She’s Mine, I hope more than anything that it will keep you entertained but also that it will keep you second guessing until the very last words!