My Friday Read this week is the thriller, Lie to Me by C. J. Cooper. Let’s take a look at the cover and blurb then grab yourselves a cuppa, get comfy and we’ll get chatting to C.J.
Natalie recognises the man in the supermarket queue.
He was accused of a horrific crime. She sat on the jury that let him walk free.
The trouble is, she thinks he lied. She thinks he’s a guilty man.
And now, weeks later, here he is . . . in her neighbourhood.
Should she walk away and forget her suspicions?
Or should she follow him? Strike up a conversation?
Invite him into her home?
Into her bed?
HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO TO FIND THE TRUTH?
The gripping new psychological thriller from the bestselling author of THE BOOK CLUB
‘Gripping, unpredictable and immensely satisfying’ SOPHIE HANNAH, author of Haven’t They Grown
Lie to Me by C. J. Cooper | Hachette UK – this includes links to all sales outlets
Welcome to my blog, C.J. Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always loved stories, and thought of writing a book as the most amazing yet unachievable thing – like running a marathon (I’m the least sporty person in the world). But somewhere at my Dad’s house there’s a small pamphlet held together with staples, which I produced aged 5, having asked my teacher to help me write a book – so I suppose I must have harboured the ambition from an early age!
It never occurred to me that someone could write for a living, though, other than through what I thought of as “proper” jobs like journalism. I actually did work experience at my local newspaper when I was about 14, but quickly learned that I hated contacting people out of the blue to ask them questions – so concluded that it probably wasn’t the career for me.
It took me a long time to feel able to call myself a writer. I still get a little thrill whenever someone asks me what I do.
Has any author inspired you?
So many! But Julian Barnes’s book Love, Etc. really stands out, because the reading experience was just such a delight. It’s amazingly clever and witty, yet also intriguing – and the kind of book you can spend ages thinking about when you’ve turned the final page.
What do you like writing most?
That’s a tough one – but probably my characters’ internal thoughts, especially the things they think but would never say. I find that can often be quite cathartic!
Do you have a special place for writing?
I have a tiny desk in what the estate agent laughingly called a “sun lounge” when we bought our house, but is actually a little bigger than a cupboard. It looks out over the garden, though, so I can distract myself watching the squirrels behaving badly.
It also has a glass roof, so I tell myself I’m still getting some vitamin D while I’m writing. But in the summer, I have to wear a wide brimmed hat so I can see my screen properly!
Are you a pantster or a plotter?
A plotter all the way. I can’t start writing the first draft unless I know how the story ends – I have to have something to work towards. The level of detail varies from book to book, but as a bare minimum I need to know the beginning, middle and end, and have a fairly developed sense of all the main characters.
Is your writing ever inspired by your family or real life incidents?
Well, my sister is always convinced that at least one character in every book I write is based on her. She’s wrong – at least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
I don’t consciously base characters or plots on real life, although elements of different people and experiences inevitably find their way into what I write.
What are you writing at the moment?
I’ve working on polishing the draft of my next book. It’s another standalone psychological thriller, and it’s the first one I’ve written that includes an overseas location. The present day action is set in New York, but lots of the story takes place in London and Bristol.
What inspired you to write this book?
The spark for the plot of Lie To Me came when I did jury service. I realised then that the job of a juror isn’t really to decide whether or not someone is guilty – it’s to decide whether there’s enough evidence to convict them. And that made me wonder how it would feel if you could see the evidence wasn’t there, but you felt on some instinctive level that the defendant was guilty. Just how far might a certain kind of person – someone with quite a distinctive moral code – go in their pursuit of justice?
And that’s where the character of Natalie introduced herself and took over the whole thing!
What time of the day do you write best?
I’m definitely a night owl not a lark. I can write creatively for quite long days, but only for shorter periods – a week at most. I tend to find I’m most productive from mid afternoon into the evening.
I split my week between working on books and freelance writing – mainly material for websites; if you find yourself reading an article about the best vacuum cleaner, it might be one of mine! I tend to try to work longer days freelance writing, so I can complete the required word count as quickly as possible. That then maximises the available time for whatever book I’m working on – or more accurately, for cleaning skirting boards/ browsing social media/ searching property websites for the house I’ll buy when I win the lottery …
What are your hobbies?
Reading, watching creepy films, poking around antiques shops. I also spend far too much time on Ebay.
What advice would you give to other writers?
Stick with it. Whatever your writing goals, the path to achieving them usually has some disappointments along the way. Feel bad for as long as you need to, then pick yourself up and keep going. That sounds easy in theory – in practice, it can be really, really hard. But it’s the one thing that will get you where you want to be in the end.
Also: the skirting boards are clean enough!
Great advice, C.J. Thank you for dropping by to talk to us today. Wishing you lots of luck with your writing.
C. J. Cooper grew up in a small village in south Wales before moving to London as a student. She graduated with a degree in Ancient History and Egyptology and spent seven months as a development worker in Nepal. On her return to Britain she joined the civil service, where she worked for 17 years on topics ranging from housing support to flooding. She hung up her bowler hat when she discovered that she much preferred writing about psychotic killers to Ministerial speeches. She lives in London with her husband and a very bossy cat.
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