28 May 2014

Blog Tour: Author Interview: Tamar Cohen

Today, I am really pleased to welcome the lovely Tamar Cohen to my blog for an author interview! Tamar's new book The Broken is a thrilling read that I thoroughly enjoyed, and you can read my review on that later today. Tamar was kind enough to answer some of my questions as part of the blog tour for her new book, so please enjoy!

You can buy The Broken as a hardback or an eBook now.

Q1. Please tell us about your new book The Broken.
Hi Chloe. Well, The Broken is a psychological thriller about two couples – Hannah and Josh and Sasha and Dan - who are best friends, and whose young daughters are also best friends but whose friendship is threatened when Dan announces he’s leaving Sasha. Hannah and Josh vow they won’t take sides, but as Sasha and Dan’s break up becomes increasingly bitter, they can’t help getting sucked into their friends’ war of attrition, with catastrophic consequences for them all.

Q2. This book looks at the darker side of a marriage breakdown, and how it affects friendships when sides have to be chosen. Is this something you've had experience of yourself? If not, where did you get the idea? 
A couple of times in my life I have found myself getting drawn into friends’ break-ups and it’s really unsettling. You start off determined to stay neutral and not take sides but it ends up being almost impossible. When people are going through an acrimonious split, they’re not rational. It’s a hugely emotional time and they are hurting which often makes them regress to their most childish selves with that kind of black and white ‘my enemy’s friend is my enemy’ mentality. They can’t see how you could spend time with this person who is causing them such intolerable pain. Sometimes you wind up becoming some kind of unwilling mediator or messenger, other times you end up feeling like a spy coming back to report from the enemy camp. A divorce can be like a war, where there are no neutral parties, only collaborators and traitors.

Q3. I felt sorry for Sasha, yet also deeply disliked her at the same time. I also wished that Hannah would grow a bit of a backbone as the book went on! Do you find it easy to write these more tricky characters, ones where you could quite easily hate them but have to also empathise with their situation somewhat for the sake of the story?
 All my books feature characters who are deeply flawed. I’m not interested in perfect people. To me there’s nothing to say about them. Plus my characters are always in situations of great crisis. In The Mistress’s Revenge, Sally was in freefall following the sudden end of her five-year affair, Selina and Lottie in The War of the Wives had just found out they’d been having a relationship with the same man, and Fran from Someone Else’s Wedding was at a complete midlife crossroads, unsure which way to go. People in crisis are generally raw and self-absorbed and thin-skinned and probably not their nicest selves, But that doesn’t mean you can’t empathise or care about what happens to them.

Q3. Have you ever wanted to write something light and a bit happier, or are you more drawn to something a bit more sinister and dark?
Other writers do light so much better than I ever could. It’s the Dark Side all the way for me.

Q4. Have you always wanted to be an author? How did you get your first book 'The Mistresses Revenge' published?
Yes, I always wanted to write. I think most authors feel like that. It would be pretty weird if your burning ambition was to be an accountant or a brain surgeon and you had no interest in writing, then suddenly decided to knock out a book. Writing a book is a huge investment of time and energy. You’ve got to want it pretty badly. I was lucky with The Mistress’s Revenge. I wrote it in four months while I was going through a fallow period as a journalist and had time on my hands. I got an agent straight away and a book deal within weeks – which all sounds like a fairytale if you conveniently ignore the fact that I was 47 at the time, and had already put in a quarter century of writing practice!

Q5. How did it feel for your book 'Someone Else's Wedding' to be a Good Housekeeping Reader Recommended Book?! (Well deserved I have to say!)
I was thrilled when my editor told me Someone Else’s Wedding had been selected as a Good Housekeeping Recommended Book. It’s such a respected institution. I think people really trust their judgement. Plus I got to have a sticker on the front cover of one of my books which is something I’ve always wanted! Well, it’s not technically a sticker because it doesn’t peel off, but it’s close enough.

Q6. What are you reading at the moment? Is there any particular genre you enjoy more than others?
 At the moment I’m reading a book called The Book of You by Claire Kendal, which is a chilling, very tightly written novel about stalking and obsession. I’m really enjoying it so far, but have to keep breaking off because it’s just so intense. I’m reading a lot of psychological crime at the moment because that’s the area I’m moving into.

Q7. Is there a book you've read which makes you think 'I wish I had written that myself!'?
I’m CONSTANTLY reading books I wish I’d written. I read one the other week called We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler which I absolutely loved. It’s deep and yet incredibly sharp and funny with a twist that blows your socks off!

Q8. Are you working on your next book yet? Can you tell us anything about it?
 My next book will be out later this year and is very definitely crime. It’s a total departure for me as it involves a proper ‘baddie’ and a heroine who is put into a situation of danger. Up until now, my characters have been much more morally ambiguous and any danger they encounter comes from their own psyches rather than an external force. And it’s DARK. Very dark. You have been warned!

Thanks so much, Tamar!

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