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Clare Chase writes fast-paced romantic mysteries, using London and Cambridge as settings. Her influences include JD Robb, Janet Evanovich, Mary Stewart and Sue Grafton. Brought up in the Midlands, she went on to read English at London University, then worked in book and author promotion in venues as diverse as schools, pubs and prisons. More recently she’s exercised her creative writing muscles in the world of PR, and also worked for the University of Cambridge. Her current day job is at the Royal Society of Chemistry. Her writing is inspired by what makes people tick, and how strong emotions can occasionally turn everyday incidents into the stuff of crime novels. It would be impossible not to mix these topics with romance and relationships; they’re central to life and drive all forms of drama. When she’s not reading or writing, Clare enjoys drawing, cooking and trips to the Lake District. Closer to home, she loves wandering round the pubs, restaurants and galleries of Cambridge, where she lives with her husband and two teenage daughters. You Think You Know Me is Clare’s debut novel.
Below is a Q&A with this author.
Who’s your favourite author?
It’s really hard to choose just one! My favourite genre, as you might guess, is crime/suspense, and I especially love books where setting is important. Series that spring to mind include Ian Rankin’s Rebus for Edinburgh, Donna Leon’s Brunetti for Venice and Kate Rhodes’ Alice Quentin books for London. I also love Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie detective novels, and really enjoyed her depiction of Cambridge (my home city) in Case Histories. I’d better stop now; I could fill pages with my favourite crime writers alone, and then I’d have to move on to other genres…
Who is your favourite literary character?
I think I’d have to pick Cassandra Mortmain from I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. She’s so clear sighted and engaging.
What’s the first book you remember reading?
My mother read to me a lot as a child, but the first book I remember loving independently was a Tintin story, The Crab with the Golden Claws, given to me by my uncle when I was six. It combined adventure, mystery and danger, so that might be where I first got a taste for the genre I write in!
How would you describe your novel?
It’s a murder mystery, set in the arts world: lies, passion and intrigue in London and the Lake District.
The story opens when Anna, the heroine, meets a stranger in an art gallery. She falls for him on sight, but finds he’s given her a false name. Torn between backing off and allowing him to explain, Anna gets drawn in. She becomes part of a history that’s already been written, up against a killer who has everything to lose.
Here’s a link to the book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKkkXuT8ACs
What gave you the inspiration for the story?
It was a combination of two central ideas: being lied to by a seemingly charming stranger, and the desires and aspirations famous art works inspire in certain people. My mother and brother are both artists, so I’ve always been interested in the industry. The sector also provides great potential for mystery fiction. The proceeds from art and antiques crime in the UK are second only to those from drugs.
Where and how do you write?
Anywhere and everywhere! I have a small laptop and seldom go far without it. Suddenly being trapped without the internet, for instance in the car whilst waiting to pick up one of my children, can result in a surprisingly productive ten minutes.
Who do you base your characters on?
It’s never solely on one person; I pick and mix characteristics, and add invented ones too. Occasionally, a trait I’ve noticed in someone I’ve met becomes part of one of my killers’ psychological makeup, which feels quite odd. It’s usually something that’s innocuous on its own, for instance a strong desire to achieve a particular goal. But when I make the desire overriding, instead of strong, and blend it with ruthlessness and narcissism, it can become dangerous.
What would you rescue from your house if it was on fire?
Assuming no one else was home, then it would be a pair of 1950s sparkly slingback shoes. It’s not that I have a thing about footwear (though they are very beautiful). It’s because they’re a mystery. They seem to have belonged to someone in my family, yet no one remembers who. I like to imagine the parties they were worn at, and the kind of conversations and dramas that might have taken place in their presence. I’ve managed to give them a couple of outings myself, and find them strangely inspiring!
What three things would you take if you were to be stranded on a desert island?
I’d love to say some kind of special penknife, fishing tackle and so on. In reality, it would be a satellite phone, a large bottle of mineral water and a fully loaded Kindle to read whilst I waited for rescue. I’d be rubbish on a desert island; I love hubbub and being surrounded by people.
Did you always want to be an author- if not, what did you want to be when you were little?
Always an author. I’ve tried to eradicate my early embarrassing attempts at writing, but there are so many of them they keep appearing even now, tucked into old exercise books, or shoved into boxes. My middle school English books were full of short stories, usually featuring ghosts, murderers, or both!
September 2015 Debut of the Month. A short, easy to read Choc-Lit romantic mystery with a healthy serving of suspense. The first chapter is intriguing, an attractive mystery man enters Anna’s life, should she follow her heart or her head? Anna’s emotions are at war with her thinking and refusing to listen to reason. Anna is likeable and tells her own tale, however her dilemma means she needs a helping hand in the advice department and of course it’s easy to dispense it from the sidelines. Clare Chase teases the reader with the enigmatic male characters, spinning facts and the background to their stories along the way. Agreeably entertaining, You Think You Know Me builds to a rather alarming and dangerous climax and Anna discovers whether her heart or head has finally won the day. ~ Liz Robinson
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?