I Let You Go cover image
Today on the CTG blog I’m delighted to be joined by Clare Mackintosh author of I Let You Go – a phenomenal psychological thriller that’s out now. I Let You Go has a superb ‘gasp out loud’ twist and I’m thrilled that Clare is talking about twists here today.
So over to Clare …
They say writers should write the book they would like to read, rather than trying to meet any perceived trend or gap in the market. A life-long lover of crime (of the fictional kind) I have always read widely within the genre, but I began to seek out a particular element: twists.
Twists can be hard to define, but to my mind they are sections of a novel where the story takes a completely unexpected turn, turning upside down what the reader had previously believed. A good twist novel lures you in, making you believe one state of affairs, then slams you against the wall with the truth. Sometimes there can be more than one of these ‘gasp moments’, leaving you lurching from side to side like an out of control train.
It could be said that all crime books have twists in them, but when the story contains a cast of suspects, the reveal of an offender isn’t necessarily a ‘twist’. The big ‘reveal’ could certainly be surprising, even shocking, but in order to be a twist it should shake up a significant proportion of what you have read up to that point.
When I had the idea for I Let You Go, it was the twist that came first. I hugged it to myself for ages, not knowing exactly what would lead up to that point, or what would happen afterwards, but knowing it was the sort of twist that I loved to read. The story developed, changing significantly over the course of the next two years, but the twist remained the same, flanked by other, smaller twists. It was technically difficult to pull off: how could I ensure the twist was truly shocking, yet at the same time plant enough ‘clues’ that when the reader looked back they could see them?
I am lucky to have a fantastic editor, who helped me tighten the screws on the twist until it was as watertight as possible. By that point we had both read the manuscript so many times it was hard to know how the twist would work for a new reader. I became convinced my ‘oh so clever’ twist was utterly obvious. It was time to find out, so my editor passed the manuscript to a few trusted members of her team, and we held our breath…
When the first reaction came in I breathed a sigh of relief. The twist worked! It has been fantastic to see the tweets, emails and reviews from readers taken by surprise by the turns in the book, and I never tire of hearing about their ‘gasp’ moments. If you read I Let You Go do let me know what you think of the twist: maybe you’ll be the first one to guess it…
A big thank you to Clare for making the CTG blog one of the stops on her tour.
You can find out more about Clare by hopping over to her website at http://claremackintosh.com/, looking her up on Facebook at ClareMackWrites and following her on Twitter @claremackint0sh
I Let You Go is out today. Here’s what the blurb says: “In a split second, Jenna Gray’s world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever. Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating …”
And here’s a sneaky peep at an extract from the story …
“When I wake, for a second I’m not sure what this feeling is. Everything is the same, and yet everything has changed. Then, before I have even opened my eyes, there is a rush of noise in my head, like an underground train. And there it is: playing out in Technicolor scenes I can’t pause or mute. I press the heels of my palms into my temples as though I can make the images subside through brute force alone, but still they come, thick and fast, as if without them I might forget. On my bedside cabinet is the brass alarm clock Eve gave me when I went to university – ‘Because you’ll never get to lectures, otherwise’ – and I’m shocked to see it’s ten-thirty already. The pain in my hand has been overshadowed by a headache that blinds me if I move my head too fast, and as I peel myself from the bed every muscle aches. I pull on yesterday’s clothes and go into the garden without stopping to make a coffee, even though my mouth is so dry it’s an effort to swallow. I can’t find my shoes, and the frost stings my feet as I make my way across the grass. The garden isn’t large, but winter is on its way, and by the time I reach the other side I can’t feel my toes. The garden studio has been my sanctuary for the last five years. Little more than a shed to the casual observer, it is where I come to think, to work, and to escape. The wooden floor is stained from the lumps of clay that drop from my wheel, firmly placed in the centre of the room, where I can move around it and stand back to view my work with a critical eye. Three sides of the shed are lined with shelves on which I place my sculptures, in an ordered chaos only I could understand. Works in progress, here; fired but not painted, here; waiting to go to customers, here. Hundreds of separate pieces, yet if I shut my eyes, I can still feel the shape of each one beneath my fingers, the wetness of the clay on my palms. I take the key from its hiding place under the window ledge and open the door. It’s worse than I thought. The floor lies unseen beneath a carpet of broken clay; rounded halves of pots ending abruptly in angry jagged peaks. The wooden shelves are all empty, my desk swept clear of work, and the tiny figurines on the window ledge are unrecognisable, crushed into shards that glisten in the sunlight. By the door lies a small statuette of a woman. I made her last year, as part of a series of figures I produced for a shop in Clifton. I had wanted to produce something real, something as far from perfection as it was possible to get, and yet for it still to be beautiful. I made ten women, each with their own distinctive curves, their own bumps and scars and imperfections. I based them on my mother; my sister; girls I taught at pottery class; women I saw walking in the park. This one is me. Loosely, and not so anyone would recognise, but nevertheless me. Chest a little too flat; hips a little too narrow; feet a little too big. A tangle of hair twisted into a knot at the base of the neck. I bend down and pick her up. I had thought her intact, but as I touch her the clay moves beneath my hands, and I’m left with two broken pieces. I look at them, then I hurl them with all my strength towards the wall, where they shatter into tiny pieces that shower down on to my desk. I take a deep breath and let it slowly out.”
I Let You Go is one of my top reads of 2015. Be sure to pop back tomorrow to check out my review.
And, don’t forget to check out all the fabulous tour stops on the #ILetYouGo blog tour …