The Wife Who Ran Away, was a fantastic read and I really enjoyed every page. I was lucky enough to get to ask Tess some questions about that, and a few other things as well! My thanks go to Sophie at MidasPR for sorting out the interview, and to Tess for answering my questions!
Q1. Please tell me about your new book 'The Wife Who Ran Away'.
The book does exactly what it says on the tin: it's about a wife who runs away from her life. Kate has a husband who never notices her, two stroppy teenagers, a mother driving her bonkers, and a career that's suddenly falling apart. On impulse, she boards a plane to Italy, and soon finds herself caught up in a totally new life - and the arms of a new man. But there are some things you can never leave behind, and Kate soon finds herself having to choose between the past and the future.
Q2. The idea of a woman running off and leaving her family is quite a controversial topic, although I know a lot of women get that feeling of wanting to get away from all the pressures of family life every now and then! What made you want to write a book about a woman actually acting on that impulse?
It's just so tempting, isn't it? We've all wanted to do it, but few of us actually dare. I wanted to look at what happened if someone did leave; how that first exciting impulse would become bogged down in the realities of carving a new life somewhere. There's a part of me in Kate; a part of many of us, if we're honest.
Q3. Despite her actions, I actually really liked Kate and felt quite sympathetic to her. Did you want to make her a sympathetic character and likeable, or did you not mind if readers hated her because of what she chose to do?
No, I wanted readers to understand Kate, and sympathize with her position, even if they don't agree with all her choices. I don't engage with heroines who're perfect - I find characters with flaws so much more interesting.
Q4. I found one of your sub-plots about Kate's son and his school bullying very interesting and actually quite hard-hitting to read - what made you include another emotive topic in the book, and did you find it hard to write this part of the book?
I think it's a really important topic, and so many children hide what's happening from their parents. I just wanted to say, 'This happens, even when you least suspect it: be alert to it.'
Q5. I've read most of your books now, and I think it's fair to say you like to write about more controversial topics in your books. Where do you get your ideas from, and why do you enjoy writing about topics we don't often find in women's fiction?
I write about what interests me, and I like covering subjects that haven't been hashed through quite as often. I'm interested in what comes after the happy-ever-after where so many other books end. As for where I get my ideas... that's a tricky one. I don't know. They're just there. You only have to open a newspaper or switch on the news to see that real life is stranger than fiction...
Q6. What do you do when you aren't writing books?
I have three children aged 17, 14 and 9, and a husband I love spending time with, so that takes up much of my so-called free time! I also ski a lot, and dance, and as the kids get older, I spend more time with friends too. But nothing beats curling up in front of the fire with a good book...
Q7. Would you be able to tell me your top three books of all time? Also, do you enjoy reading chick lit/women's fiction as well as writing it?
God, that's an impossible question! Just three books? Well, my favourite book as a child was The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and the year I turned six I spent hours in the back of wardrobes looking for a snowy forest. The book that inspired me to write was Jean Plaidy's historical novel, The Sixth Wife, set in the Tudor court of Henry VIII; I was 12 when I read that, whilst helping my mother at a soup kitchen, and the first book I ever wrote (never published!) was historical. And then the book I read every year - Pride and Prejudice. Love love love it.
I love reading women's fiction too: I read my contemporaries, and I read 'above my pay grade' all the time.
Q8. Your book cover for this book has changed dramatically from your previous styles - how important do you think book covers are in helping readers to pick up books, and what do you think of your latest books cover?
Aargh! Sore point! You spend a year writing a book and send your child out into the world, and then someone else dresses it and everyone judges it on the frock. I love my latest book cover; I think it's a much better fit than my previous covers, and I'm thrilled we've moved in this direction.
Q9. What's your opinion of the term 'chick lit'? Do you find it a derogatory term, and how do you feel about your books being called 'chick lit'?
I think it's often used as a derogatory term, yes, especially by men. I can't see why women's fiction is considered inferior to books written for men, but there you are. Doesn't stop 'chick' books selling by the shedload, so I guess the laugh is on them....!
Q10. Finally, are you working on your next novel yet? If so, can you tell me anything about it?!
I am, yes; it's called SHE TAKES AFTER YOU, and it's about two women who discover their 15 year old daughters were switched at birth. One of them wants to switch back, but the other doesn't. It's about our views on motherhood, and whether the child we raise, or the child we gave birth to, is the one we love. It should be out in January 2013, so watch this space!
You can buy The Wife Who Ran Away as a paperback and as an eBook now!