I’m thrilled to be talking to Phoebe Morgan today, author of The Girl Next Door as part of the blog tour. I really enjoyed her debut novel The Doll House, so I can’t wait to read it.
One little lie just became deadly…
Perfect mother. Perfect wife. Jane Goodwin has spent years building her picture-perfect life in the quiet town of Ashdon.
So when the girl next door, sixteen-year-old Clare Edwards, is found murdered, Jane knows she must first protect her family.
Every marriage has a few white lies and hers is no exception. Jane’s worked hard to cover up her dark secret from all those years ago – and she’ll do anything to keep it hidden…
Hi Phoebe. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Firstly can you tell us a little bit about what your new book is about?
Of course! The Girl Next Door is a psychological thriller about a claustrophobic, close-knit community of middle-class people who are hiding secrets behind closed doors. It tells the story of Clare Edwards, a 16 year old girl found dead at the start of the book, and the subsequent police investigation into how and why she was killed.
What is your writing process like? Do you plan everything out before you put pen to paper or do you let the story evolve as you’re writing?
I wish I planned everything out but I don’t think it’s the way my brain works! I tend to have an idea or a few characters in my head and begin writing, and often I have an idea of how I want the book to end as well – and then the middle sections I make up as I go along! I find that once I start writing, new ideas come to me, but I do often go back and rewrite, meaning that the editing process can be a bit painful at times! But my day job is as an editor so I actually quite enjoy that part of it – it’s easier than the gruelling first draft!
How long does it take you to write a novel?
It usually takes me a few months to write the first draft, and then editing could take another month or two on top of that. At the moment, I have one book a year coming out (The Doll House was out last year and there will be a book three in 2020) and that schedule suits me – I’m not sure I could write any faster what with working full time as well!
Have you always been drawn to the crime genre?
When I was younger I read less crime and more what the publishing industry would term ‘women’s fiction’ – people like Jane Green and Sophie Kinsella, but as I grew older I started reading psychological suspense and now I can’t get enough of it! I’d say I read more suspense than straight crime, although if a detective is likeable and believable (something I think Paula Daly does very well) then I can enjoy police procedurals a lot too. I love a good twist and although there is a lot of suspense out there at the moment, I think as long as you’ve got a strong enough plot and a clear, unique voice, there’s still room for more books on the shelves!
Are there any other genres you’d like to explore in your writing?
I’ve always wanted to write short stories, and I do sometimes for magazines or just for fun, so one day I’d love to write a whole book of those although I’m fairly sure nobody would buy it… I’ve also had a historical fiction idea in my head for a few years, which I hope to eventually finish!
Did the process of writing your second book change compared to when you wrote your first?
I suppose it was more pressurised – I had a one book deal for my debut and then a two book deal for books two and three, so I did feel the slight tension there as to whether my publishers would like it and whether it’d be good enough for them to make my agent an offer. But I think I also felt more confident, because I knew I had got to the finishing line of a book before so I just had to keep reminding myself of that and reassure myself that I could probably manage to do it again!
When you published The Doll House how did it feel to have your book out there in the world for the first time?
Oh it was amazing! I was so happy. It’s something I had always wanted to achieve so it was wonderful seeing people reading it and hearing the reader responses. Luckily most of them were positive though of course there’s always the odd one star review from someone who didn’t like it, but because of my day job I think I’m reasonably immune to that now. I was very pleased to be able to give copies of my book to my family and to people who had supported me along the way, that made it all feel worthwhile.
If you could pass on one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?
Don’t give up! Everyone says it but it is so true. I never thought my first book would see the light of day but this morning I got the news that it’ll be translated into French, as well as a few other territories – so you honestly never know what will happen in the future if you keep going. And if you don’t sell your first book, you might sell your next one. I know tons of authors who didn’t sell their debut and went on to do brilliant things. Keep writing as long as you still enjoy it, and remember that getting a book published is not the be all and end all. Don’t let it define you, because I think that can start to feel really unhealthy and upsetting if you put all your focus on what is essentially an industry that revolves around luck and timing a lot of the time! Remember to live your life and if you need a break from writing, have one. Just go back to it if you’re serious about getting published – you will get there.
How will you be celebrating publication day?
I’m having a launch party in the evening, the first one I have ever had, so I’m a bit nervous about that! My family and friends are coming as well as some other writers, my agent and my editor, so I’m looking forward to thanking them and having some cake! And the day after that I’m going on holiday for the weekend, which should be nice and might stop me obsessing over Amazon rankings a bit…
And finally, is there anything you can tell us about what you are working on at the moment?
I’ve almost finished my first draft of book three so will send that to my editor soon. The working title is The Babysitter though that might change, and it’s about a couple who go on holiday to France – only for the doorbell to ring and the police to arrest the husband on suspicion of a murder back in the UK. And then a baby disappears… It is out in 2020 and I hope you all like it!
Thank you to Phoebe for taking the time to answer my questions and to Lucy Richardson at HQ for the invitation to join the tour.
If you would like to purchase The Girl Next Door, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below.
Publication date: 21st February 2019
Print length: 384 pages
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