Clare Mackintosh Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Clare Mackintosh

Clare Mackintosh

An interview with Clare Mackintosh

Claire Mackintosh discusses the similarities between her careers as a police officer and a writer of two bestsellers - I Let You Go and I See You

Your background is interesting—you went from police detective to journalist to novelist. What inspired your career transitions and how do you think the three relate?

I spent 12 years in the police and loved every minute of it, but it became increasingly hard to balance a busy career with life as a mother of three young children. I took a career break and reinvented myself as a freelance feature writer, and at the same time I wrote I Let You Go. I signed a two-book publishing deal the month before I was due back at work, so I handed in my notice and never went back.

The thread that links all three types of work is storytelling: as a detective I told victim's stories on their behalf; collected witnesses' stories to support allegations of crime. My job was to pull together all the threads of a story and present it to a court in such a way that they could decide on a verdict. In that way it wasn't dissimilar to the stories I now present to readers.

Given your experience in the police force, do you find it necessary to do additional research before writing? If so, what kind of research do you do?

I didn't need to do much research for I Let You Go, although I did check some procedure with a couple of former colleagues. Most of the "research" I did was more about trying to capture experiences; I even walked fully clothed into a freezing ocean in November in order to write a particular scene better! For I See You I spent a lot of time on the London Underground, watching people as they went about their business. I also had help from a police officer specialising in cyber crime; he was so helpful I named a character after him.

Your debut novel I Let You Go was the UK's top-selling crime fiction debut in 2015. Why do you think so many readers have embraced the book?

I've been overwhelmed by the response to my debut novel, and I've loved hearing from so many book groups and readers around the UK and beyond. It seems to appeal to fans of both procedural crime and mystery, as well as of literary thrillers and psychological suspense, so I guess I'm covering all bases!

Tell us about your literary influences. Who are your favorite writers and what kind of books do you love to read?

I read widely, across all genres. Right now I'm reading Alex Marwood's The Darkest Secret, an exceptional thriller out this year. I love Sophie Hannah's books, and I've been a fan of Jodi Picoult for many years—I love how she explores such big issues in her writing.

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

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