There’s a brand new Choc Lit imprint, Death by Choc Lit, and Clare Chase’s novel A Stranger’s House is the first book for it. A Stranger’s House was published on 12th February in e-book and is available here in the UK and here in the US. I’m delighted to be supporting Brook Cottage Books in bringing you the chance to win a copy of A Stranger’s House and in sharing a guest piece from Clare all about her writing journey.
A Stranger’s House
What if you were powerless to protect the person you cared about most?
When Ruby finds out that her partner has done the unforgivable, she has no option but to move out of their home. With nowhere else to go, a job house-sitting in Cambridge seems like the perfect solution.
But it’s soon clear the absent owner hurts everyone he gets close to, and Ruby’s faced with the fallout. As violent repercussions unfold, her instinct is to investigate: it’s a matter of self-preservation. And besides, she’s curious…
But Ruby’s new boss, Nate Bastable, has his eye on her and seems determined to put a stop to her sleuthing. Is he simply worried for the welfare of a member of staff, or is there something altogether more complicated – and potentially dangerous – at play?
From Death by Choc Lit – gripping edge of your seat reads.
My writing journey
(and what helped me on the way)
A Guest Post From Clare Chase
A friend of mine was about to give birth. She was exhausted, after being in labour for many hours, and said to the midwife: ‘I can’t wait until this is over and I can have a rest.’ I gather the midwife looked at her, aghast, and said: ‘But you won’t be able to. When this is over, you’ll have a baby to look after.’
Having a novel published is not like having a new baby. All the same, it’s funny to think of how I used to see the act of getting published as the culmination of my writer’s journey. Here I am, with my second novel newly out, and the realisation of what’s yet to come has sunk in!
Despite that, the journey’s already been going on for some time. I spent a while parked somewhere scenic at the beginning for example, and then drove round in circles for ages. Here’s the story so far, and the things that have kept me going…
This is where the journey began. I was brought up on crime fiction, since my mother and maternal grandmother’s bookshelves were packed with it. From golden age classics, to modern thrillers, I lapped them all up.
Despite my preference for mystery fiction, I spent years working out what I wanted to write. When my children were little, I used their nap time to experiment, and started out with picture books. I suppose they were top-most in my mind! My kids grew, and I moved on to children’s chapter books, and then wrote a rom com, as I’ve always enjoyed stories with some love interest. It was only when the plot of that novel took an expected turn (involving blackmail) that I realised I wanted to write mysteries.
On the upside, this dithering meant I got lots of practice. I’m sure my first efforts were dire, but seeing a series of projects through to completion helped me develop some craft and gave me confidence.
Obsessive buying of ‘how-to’ books
I’m addicted to books about writing craft and started acquiring them early on. I found dipping into ideas shared by writers I admired was inspiring, and some of their tips have become part of my standard process. Two of my mystery-specific favourites are Write Away by Elizabeth George and The Arvon Book of Crime and Thriller Writing by Michelle Spring et al.
I got to the point where I realised I’d need to share my work to test and improve it. As even my mysteries included some love interest, I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme (RNA’s NWS). This puts you at the heart of an organisation chock-full of generous, highly experienced authors who are quick to share advice. And as part of your membership, you can submit a manuscript, which is assessed by a published counterpart. This feedback was a massive help. There are many other reading services of course (the Crime Writers’ Association has one) but the RNA’s NWS has the additional benefits of community, too.
At last I got to the point where I wanted to submit to agents and publishers. The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook was a great source of information, but for the real low-down: the industry gossip and the hot-off-the press news, the RNA was once again invaluable, as was Twitter. Following agents and publishers on there is a mine of information. That’s how I found out about my publisher, Choc Lit.
The moment – when it came
I can’t write about my writer’s journey without referring to ‘The offer’. It’s writ large in my memory: first the promising email, inviting me down to London to meet Choc Lit’s lovely director, Lyn Vernham; then the day itself, and hearing her tell me she’d email a contract. (And finally travelling home, and suddenly realising I had no idea whether I’d taken the Cambridge train, or one to somewhere quite different…)
Since then, highlights have included working with Choc Lit’s brilliant editors, hearing that my debut novel would go into paperback, and signing the contract for my current release.
And then there’s the ever-present, half-excited, half-nervous anticipation about what will come next. It’ll be interesting to find out!
ABOUT CLARE CHASE
Clare Chase writes women sleuth mysteries set in London and Cambridge. She fell in love with the capital as a student, living in the rather cushy surroundings of Hampstead in what was then a campus college of London University. (It’s currently being turned into posh flats …)
After graduating in English Literature, she moved to Cambridge and has lived there ever since. She’s fascinated by the city’s contrasts and contradictions, which feed into her writing. She’s worked in diverse settings – from the 800-year-old University to one of the local prisons – and lived everywhere from the house of a Lord to a slug-infested flat. The terrace she now occupies, with her husband and teenage daughters, presents a good happy medium.
As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s books.
Clare’s debut novel, You Think You Know Me, has been shortlisted for an EPIC award, and was chosen as a debut of the month for September 2015 by Lovereading.
Find out more about Clare via these links:
Enter to win a signed paperback copy of Clare’s previous book, You Think You Know Me (also a mystery/suspense novel) plus a sweet treat from Hotel Chocolat by clicking here.