I have been a fan of Clare Chase since I read her first book ‘You Think You Know Me’ back in 2014. So I was very pleased to hear that Clare had written another book ‘A Stranger’s House‘ which has just been published in paperback. (February 7th 2017). I reviewed this book previously and you can read my review HERE!
Today, I have the honour of asking the very talented Clare a few questions. So I cordially introduce to the the wonderful Clare Chase, Author of You Think You Know Me. A Stranger’s House and One Dark Lie.
Check out these other blogs on the book tour.
Hi Clare, Can you tell us a little about your book ‘A Stranger’s House’?
Hi Amanda – thanks so much for having me on your blog today!
A Stranger’s House opens just after the heroine, Ruby, has walked out on her unfaithful partner. With nowhere else to go, the house-sitting job she’s offered in Cambridge seems like a godsend: a way to escape the gossips in her village and earn some extra cash at the same time. But it’s not long before she starts to feel uneasy. The signs of the absent-owner’s dysfunctional life are everywhere, from the unsettling paintings on his bedroom wall, to the bloodstain on the rug in his sitting room. As Ruby pieces together clues from his home, she feels closer and closer to a man she’s never met, and would rather be distanced from.
In an effort to take control, she starts to dig for information, but Nate, who owns the house-sitting business, is dead against her sleuthing. It leaves Ruby wondering what he has to hide. When she finally unearths his secret, it knocks her for six.
Where did your inspiration come from for the plot and characters? Did you take inspiration for characters from anyone you know?
I’ve always been fascinated by what you can glean about people from looking at their home environment, and it was this that gave me the idea for the book.
When creating characters I sometimes pinch aspects of people I know, but in the main they develop inside my head and are almost entirely made up!
Do you have a favourite place to write? And is it tidy or a mess of papers?
I’m happy to write pretty much anywhere, and have a nice, light laptop with good battery life! When I’m at home I frequently avoid our study (which is messy and currently home to things like an old chemistry set, some woodwork tools and a cuckoo clock, all waiting to be freecycled)! My favourite place to work is the kitchen, which is nice and light with a view of the back garden.
I don’t tend to have too many papers around since I mainly work on my computer, after an initial stage of scribbling ideas into notebooks.
Did you have to do much research for this book? Do you have any amusing tales of while you were ‘researching’?
A lot the background knowledge that went into A Stranger’s House was gleaned through living in Cambridge for over twenty years, so effectively I’ve been absorbing information as I go along. I find it’s the perfect setting for crime fiction. Despite being a city, it’s fairly small, so inequalities are concentrated. You get millionaire Nobel laureates living cheek-by-jowl with squatters, and while there are college choirs singing Elizabethan madrigals by the river, there are also drunks dealing drugs on the commons. The contrasts can be stark and I imagine life must seem very unjust to some of the city’s residents. Cambridge’s size means news travels fast, too. A high proportion of the locals work for the university, and if you want to keep a secret you have to be careful who you talk to! And then there are the rivalries which abound in both academia and industry, which can lead to tensions too. The stakes are high, and when people have a lot to lose, there’s potential for conflict.
I used to work at the university and also one of its colleges, and I’ve overheard some interesting things, but I probably shouldn’t repeat them here!
You have two great characters, I found Ruby to be so developed in your writing that I could understand her thoughts and actions. Did you know the characters Ruby and Nate before you wrote them or did they develop as the book did?
Thanks, Amanda! I did a lot of thinking about both Ruby and Nate’s back stories before I started writing, and that dictated their main character traits. So I feel I knew them pretty well before I began the book. Having said that, each time they were faced with a new situation I got to know them that bit better as I realised exactly how they’d react in that particular circumstance.
Were there any ‘deleted scenes’ that we might be intrigued about?
In the original version of A Stranger’s House, Ruby was pregnant. As you can imagine, the reworked version involved quite a few tweaks!
What book are you reading now and who are your favourite Authors?
I’ve just started The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths, which is the first in her Stephens and Mephisto series set in Brighton in 1950. I’m a massive fan of her Dr Ruth Galloway mysteries, and having read them all I’m delighted there’s another set of books to immerse myself in! As for my favourite authors, I could list hundreds! Can I cop out and tell you my main influences instead? Alongside Elly Griffiths, these would be Liane Moriarty, Kate Atkinson and Sophie Hannah!
A Stranger’s House by Clare Chase is now available to purchase in paperback. Click here for buying options: http://www.choc-lit.com/dd-product/a-strangers-house/
About the book:
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?
About the Author:
Clare Chase writes women sleuth mysteries set in London and Cambridge. She fell in love with the capital as a student, living in the rather cushy surroundings of Hampstead in what was then a campus college of London University.
After graduating in English Literature, she moved to Cambridge and has lived there ever since. She’s fascinated by the city’s contrasts and contradictions, which feed into her writing. She’s worked in diverse settings – from the 800-year-old University to one of the local prisons – and lived everywhere from the house of a Lord to a slug-infested flat. The terrace she now occupies presents a good happy medium.
As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s books.
She lives with her husband and teenage children, and currently works at the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Here is where you can buy A Strangers House and find out more about Author Clare Chase:
Any good bookshop!
Here is where you can find Clare: