I am delighted to welcome Rachel Sargeant back to Chat About Books today 🙂 It is a honour to be a part of her The Roommates blog tour!
A big thank you to Rachel for the invite and for agreeing to the following interview…..
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
Thank you, Kerry, for inviting me back onto your blog as part of The Roommates blog tour.
I’m a full-time author but until last year I was a school librarian. Years ago I studied German and Librarianship at Aberystwyth University. More recently I did an MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University and met some fabulous fellow students who continue to support me in my writing.
Born and raised in Lincolnshire, I’ve also lived in Surrey, Shropshire and Germany. Home now is Gloucestershire with my husband and children.
My hobbies are reading, swimming (preferably outdoors at the local lido in summer), visiting country houses and coffee shops, and going to the theatre.
Last time you interviewed me, my first psychological thriller, The Perfect Neighbours, was about to published on the HarperCollins Killer Reads list. I’m delighted to say that the book became a Kindle Top Ten bestseller with sales of over 100,000 copies to date. This success was due in no small part to the support I received from you and the rest of the blogging community. I was a complete unknown at the time and so grateful for the social media exposure you gave me and my book.
My new psychological thriller, The Roommates, is out now on the main HarperCollins crime list. Four girls arrive at university for freshers’ week and find themselves sharing a flat on campus. All four are holding secrets from their pasts, but when one of them goes missing, the other three have to learn to trust each other and work together to find her.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
My books seem to happen when two different ideas come together. I wrote The Roommates because my children went to university. Prior to them making their UCAS applications, they went to various campus open days – with Mum and Dad in tow. My husband and I loved comparing these visits with our own uni experiences. It got us thinking about a time we hadn’t thought of for years. The memories became stronger when the kids started uni and we became regular visitors. The stories they told us about student life were hilarious even though I’m sure we got censored versions. I saw real potential in a psychological thriller that featured a university setting with lead characters who were freshers, away from home for the first time.
But I didn’t have that second idea that I would need to create the plot and had to wait a year for it to hit. One day I had an idea for a dramatic final scene of a story. It became that second idea I needed for The Roommates. I wrote a story set on a university campus that ended with my imagined scene.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
When I sketched out the first draft of The Roommates, I pictured a family member for the lead character, Imogen. However, this was only so I had a physical image in my head to kick start my writing. As soon as I got onto rewriting and expanding the plot, the character took on a life of her own, nothing like the real person. Only the hair stayed the same.
I don’t think I could base characters on real people. Apart from it being unethical, I wouldn’t be able to make real people do what I want them to do in the story. Some of my characters get up to grim or outrageous things. Thankfully I haven’t met any real people would act like that.
How do you pick your characters’ names?
The four main characters in The Roommates are young female students. As my daughter was roughly the same age, I asked her for ideas. She came up with Imogen and Amber as names typical for the age group but also distinctive. I chose the Welsh name Tegan for my feisty, wealthy student from Cardiff and Phoenix for the athletic, practical fourth girl. It seemed just the kind of name that her particular parents would give her.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
Now that I’m a full-time author, I write weekdays from 9.30am to 7.30pm with an afternoon break for a swim or an outing with my husband. I usually do a few hours over the weekend. As I become more experienced and now I have more time, I find I’m able to write quicker. My first try at writing a novel took six years, but I’ve just written one in six months. I can’t vouch for the quality, though. I’m still waiting to hear what my agent thinks of it.
The best time is when I’ve completed the first draft and I can start editing. My worst time is when the final draft is coming to a close and I panic that I won’t have a solid idea for a new project. I’m relieved when inspiration comes in the nick of time. Fingers crossed it always will.
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
I like and admire lots of authors so I’ll pick five whose books I’ve enjoyed this year.
Kate Rhodes – She is the author of the Ben Kitto series set on the Isles of Scilly. I’d say she’s hit that sweet spot crime writers long to reach: the perfect combination of dramatically beautiful setting; strong, likeable detective with an interesting backstory; memorable ensemble cast of colleagues and neighbours; and intriguing plots.
Clare Chase – Settling down with a Tara Thorpe mystery is like having coffee with old friends. Tara is always her feisty, determined, disruptive self and her boss, DI Garstin Blake, struggles to keep his troubled private life away from the office. They are variously supported and thwarted by a team of fellow detectives in a series of well-plotted cases.
Chris Curran – I was already a fan of Chris’s books when I met her at CrimeFest in Bristol. She and fellow author Anja de Jager took me under their wing when I was feeling bewildered. Chris has written four psychological thrillers to date and has the knack of populating them with likeable characters, reminding us that not every fictional male has to be a psychopathic fruitcake.
Jane Harper – This is a new superstar on the crime fiction stage and queen of the evocative setting. For example, in The Lost Man, you can taste the heat, the dust, the danger and the sheer expanse of the Australian Outback.
Nele Heuhaus – This German writer is the author of the bestselling Bodenstein and Kirchhoff police detective series set in the Taunus Mountains area of Germany. She self-published the first two books in the series before being approached by a commercial publisher. Her plots and her writing style aren’t too difficult for a non-native German speaker like me to understand.
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
Since The Perfect Neighbours was published I’ve connected with several authors on Twitter and received a lot of support. I’d like to meet them to say thank you. In particular, I liked to meet the Killer Reads gang who are brilliant.
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
I’d take the characters in the novel I’m currently reading. Becca and Jared in Life Ruins by Danuta Kot spend most of their time battling the bleak, blustery Yorkshire coastline in January while trying to keep one step ahead of some very dangerous people. Neither has a home to go to and they have to camp on the cliffs. I’m sure they’d welcome a coffee and a full English at a seaside café.
What are you working on right now?
This summer we spent a couple of days in South Shropshire and it reminded me what a remote and atmospheric area it is. It’s inspired me to set my next psychological thriller there. I’m working on the plot at the moment.
Tell us about your new release.
The Roommates is a psychological thriller set in a university freshers’ week.
FOUR STUDENTS. FOUR SECRETS. ONE DEVASTATING CRIME.
It’s out now in eBook, and the paperback will be published on 28 November.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Rachel 🙂
Thank you, Kerry. I enjoyed answering them.
Do you really know the people you live with?
THEY LIVE IN YOUR HOUSE
University is supposed to be the best time of your life. But Imo’s first week is quickly going from bad to worse.
YOU SHARE EVERYTHING
A stalker is watching her flat, following her every move, and Imo suspects that her new roommates are hiding dark secrets…
BUT DO YOU TRUST THEM?
When one of them suddenly disappears, the trauma of Imo’s recent past comes hurtling back to haunt her. And she begins to realise just how little she knows about the people she’s just moved in with…
FOUR STUDENTS. FOUR SECRETS. ONE DEVASTATING CRIME.
Available from Amazon:
The paperback is published on 28th November and will be on sale in bookshops and supermarkets.
About the author
Rachel Sargeant grew up in Lincolnshire. The Roommates is her fourth novel. She is a previous winner of Writing Magazine’s Crime Short Story competition and has been placed or shortlisted in various competitions, including the Bristol Short Story Prize. Her stories have appeared in My Weekly and the Accent Press Saucy Shorts series. She spent several years living in Germany where she taught English and she now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband and children.