Clare Mackintosh - HOSTAGE

Clare Mackintosh - HOSTAGE

Clare and I discuss Hostage, the idea that it is far more terrifying when you do not know where a threat is coming from, landing a plane herself at a flight simulation center (listen to learn if she successfully landed), tackling radicalization, how her copy editor saved her from making a mistake regarding the airplane seat configuration, and much more.


Clare and I discuss Hostage, the idea that it is far more terrifying when you do not know where a threat is coming from, landing a plane herself at a flight simulation center (listen to learn if she successfully landed), tackling radicalization, how her copy editor saved her from making a mistake regarding the airplane seat configuration, and much more.

Clare’s recommended reads are:

  1. Yours Cheerfully by AJ Pearce
  2. Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

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If you enjoyed this episode and want to listen to more episodes, try Flynn Berry, J.T. Ellison, Sarah Pearse, Jane Harper, and Lisa Gardner.

Hostage can be purchased at the Conversations from a Page Bookshop storefront.     

 

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Transcript

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

book, read, plane, absolutely, genre, Clare, cover, people, write, thought, bit, radicalized, happen, flight attendant, Hostage, Mina, crime novel, characters, UK, readers

SPEAKERS

Cindy Burnett, Clare Mackintosh

 

Cindy Burnett  00:06

This is the Thoughts from a Page podcast, which is now a member of the Evergreen Podcasts Network. The Thoughts from a Page podcast just turned one! And I want to say thanks so much to everyone who has supported me on this wonderful journey. I'm ready to start offering some cool bonus content and extras to those who want to become a part of my Page Turners group on Patreon. If you are ready to take the next step with me, you will have access to at least two bonus episodes a month. One will be me chatting about books what I have read and loved and not loved, what I have DNF'ed and why, what's upcoming that I'm really excited about, some thematic talks and more. And the second will be two different bookstagrammars each month chatting together about their journeys and book recommendations. I will also be adding in some other bonus episodes periodically. Page Turners will have access to a preview list of upcoming author interviews by month and other behind the scenes content. I am so excited to talk books with everyone and provide some special behind the scenes and patron only content here. I really hope you will join me. The link to find out more is in the show notes and on my website under the Support tab. Thanks for considering it. today. I am interviewing Clare Mackintosh about Hostage. Clare is the multi-award winning author of four Sunday Times bestselling novels. She lives in North Wales with her husband and her three children. I absolutely loved Hostage. And it is one of my July Buzz Reads pics. I had the best time chatting with Clare about it. And I hope you enjoy our conversation. Welcome Clare, how are you today?

 

Clare Mackintosh  01:40

I'm really great. Thank you. How are you?

 

Cindy Burnett  01:42

I'm also really great. And I am so excited to talk about Hostage. I sat down to start the book and about however many hours later I finished it. I literally read it in one setting. It is so good.

 

Clare Mackintosh  01:55

Well, that makes me very happy indeed.

 

Cindy Burnett  01:58

Why don't we start with you talking a little bit about the book for those that haven't read it?

 

Clare Mackintosh  02:02

Sure. So Hostage is a contemporary take on the classic locked room mystery. It's a novel that takes place on a nonstop flight from London to Sydney, and the action centers around a flight attendant named Mina. So fairly early on in the flight Mina becomes aware that somebody on the plane means them harm, and she has to make a really, really difficult decision. Does she prioritize the lives of all those people on that plane? Or the lives of her family who are she thinks safe at home? But it turns out they're not.

 

Cindy Burnett  02:41

How did you come up with the premise for this one? As I was reading I just over and over again was like how did she come up with all of this?

 

Clare Mackintosh  02:48

So this is a kind of combination of things. So I've got a couple of female friends who are pilots. And I love talking to them about their jobs and the challenges that they face. I as a child was desperate to be a flight attendant. I still harbor a secret desire to be cabin crew. So whenever I travel, which I do a lot in normal times, not in pandemic times, but normally with work, I travel all over the world talking about books and meeting readers. And so I spend a lot of time at airports and on planes. And I always love to watch the flight attendants. And, you know, you catch glimpses of them being sort of off duty because they're never really off duty are they? If they're on the plane, they're sort of customer facing. But if you just peek behind the curtain, you see them leaning against the galley and talking to their colleagues and kind of off duty. And I love that contrast and that reminder that these people have a private life. They've got all sorts of stuff going on in their personal lives that could conflict with what's going on at work. And then I thought, so I was on a long-haul flight from London to San Francisco, which is I think about 13 hours, and you know, we live in a really hyper-connected world. And when we're on an aeroplane, it's one of the few times where we're not super connected. We're not getting constant texts and emails and messages. And actually anything could happen and you wouldn't know it. And I asked myself what would happen right now, mid flight, if something terrible happened, how would a flight attendant deal with it?

 

Cindy Burnett  04:31

I thought you did a wonderful job of getting into Mena's head and once she sort of got the note from a passenger, but she didn't know which passenger telling her what she needed to do then she was on high alert and she was you know, suspected everybody and she was trying to figure out who it was. And it was such an uncomfortable feeling like she felt like she was being watched, but she didn't even know who it was. And I just loved that. I mean it just truly had me on the edge of my seat.

 

Clare Mackintosh  04:55

I think that those are the kinds of books that I love to read and a good writer will always always write what they love reading, I think. I love not knowing where a threat is coming from. I think that's far more terrifying than the classic thriller where we know who the baddy is. And you know that the the detective or whoever is trying to avoid them. And so what I loved about this scenario, was the idea that on this plane were hundreds of people, and some were friends and some were foes. And that just seemed like, a really, really terrifying situation to be in.

 

Cindy Burnett  05:31

I agree completely. And the way you did the format, in addition to Adam's perspective, and Mina's perspective with the random passengers, and all you knew is where they were sitting on the plane, and you know, a little bit of their thoughts. I kept having to kind of flip back and forth, wait a minute, is this the same passenger? Or is this a different passenger? That was really very clever.

 

Clare Mackintosh  05:49

I had to I had this huge seating plan on on the wall of my office as I was writing this book. So I, you know, the layout of the plane and where, where everyone was sitting, or where they moved around, just so I could keep track of it. But this is very much something I do when I'm traveling is look at my fellow passengers and wonder why they're traveling, what, you know, what their story is, their backstory, and who they're going to see. And it's something actually that that over the last year has become really relevant, as we've talked a lot, certainly in the UK about essential travel. What constitutes essential travel, whether we should be making journeys. Whether you know, it's important or not, the impact that it's been having on the environment to not be flying as much. And I think it's made a lot of people think about their reasons for travel. And so a lot of those sorts of ideas went into the passengers' stories.

 

Cindy Burnett  06:47

I just loved that, because I felt like it brought them to life. But also, it just created this completely tense environment, you know, myself, I was trying to lay out the plane and think, okay, where the bar is, and where these different seats are. And I figured you had to have some kind of map to be able to keep it straight.

 

Clare Mackintosh  07:03

I think, yeah, might have got terribly lost. I also was saved by my copy editor who, copy editors are brilliant. And if anyone who's listening doesn't really know what a copy editor does, they do the really important small bits towards the end of a book, where they're picking up continuity errors, you know, here we've got a pregnancy that seems to last 11 months, or if you've got three things happening on on, you know, the same day in three different places. But they also pick up on things that are really wrong. And something that I'd got wrong in this book is that I had included the letter I in my seating plan. And so my rows went A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, and there's no row I on an airplane. It misses it out altogether, because it looks too much like a one. So details like that are really important, I think, for getting that consistency and that authenticity.

 

Cindy Burnett  08:01

Absolutely. And so that's interesting, because I guess I have flown on those larger planes. And I just never thought about there not being an I. Well, thank goodness for the copy editor, right?

 

Clare Mackintosh  08:10

Absolutely.

 

Cindy Burnett  08:12

What about your research? I would assume you had several areas that you had to research  - adoption, the plane because you come up with a fictional plane, since this is kind of the first time that this type of flight would have been done for that length. How was all of your research?

 

Clare Mackintosh  08:26

So the route itself, the London-Sydney route, is a route that is imminent. It's going to be starting really soon. And it takes 20 hours. So I could have chosen the actual airline that's going to be flying that routes. They're already flying London to Perth. And so actually, it's only a couple of hours more. But I don't like to set something that is very obviously a crime novel, a disaster novel in many ways, on a real life airline. I think it's uncomfortable for that airline. And

 

Cindy Burnett  09:00

Yes they wouldn't be a fan of yours at all.

 

Clare Mackintosh  09:03

You know, I don't want to be sued. And I don't want anyone to feel bad. So I think it's really important in that sort of situation to make it fictional. So it also meant that I could create a fictional airline with fictional shift patterns, rosters, crew numbers and know that actually nobody can tell me I've done it wrong, because it doesn't exist. So it's really it was quite an indulgent thing to do. But I did still need to do a lot of research, and if we start with the plane side of things, so I spoke to lots of flight attendants and watched a lot of videos and I love how much cabin crew vlog and blog. It is just awesome. You can find out exactly what they have in their handbags, and what they wear and when they change their shoes and just the most interesting tiny details that enables a writer to make a book really authentic. But then I also had to speak pilots and there's a fair amount of action in the book that revolves around the flight deck, and the actual flying of the plane. And I have never flown a plane before. So I did a couple of things. I went to a flight simulation center. And I landed a Boeing 777 at Sydney Airport in the exact conditions that the plane would be landed in the book, so that I could feel what that was like and see the the view see the runway, see the visibility. I crashed. I think probably this career isn't for me. So I did that. And then I spent a really, really long time on Skype calls with a pilot who doesn't want to be named. And so I can't thank him in person. But he spent hours with me, taking me through every single detail of that flight deck, reading scenes, making sure that they were not only accurate, but also that I wasn't compromising here. I wasn't compromising anything. I wasn't revealing anything that wasn't in the public domain. So it was quite a fine balance. Because obviously, I don't want to write a manual for for hijack.

 

Cindy Burnett  11:13

A how-to.

 

Clare Mackintosh  11:14

Well, yeah, exactly.

 

Cindy Burnett  11:15

They would be like, thank you so much, Clare Mackintosh. Now I know how to hijack an airplane.

 

Clare Mackintosh  11:19

Yeah, let's let's not do that.

 

Cindy Burnett  11:20

Yes, exactly. That's interesting on the public domain. I hadn't thought about that aspect of it.

 

Clare Mackintosh  11:25

No. And actually, one of my friends, one of my pilot friends told me something that enabled me to do a thing. And we're not going to introduce spoilers, but enabled me to do a thing in the book. And then she she rang me back. And she said, I don't know if you're supposed to know that. And I thought, Oh, this is really awkward now, because I've, you know, I'm engineering a part of the plot around it, what am I going to do? And so actually, what I did is I, I went looking for that information somewhere else. And I found it on the internet kind of buried in a message board in a conversation between two pilots. And so I could let her off the hook and say, It's okay, I have that, that information is out there. It's not a trade secret that you've just betrayed.

 

Cindy Burnett  12:11

Oh, that's so fascinating. Well, I do feel like when writers take the time to do the in-depth research that you're talking about, is when the book really comes to life. And I just felt like for yours, I was right there. And I was in the midst of it. And that's because it sounds like you know, you did go through the process of what it would be like to land the plane and some of those various factors. It makes such a huge difference.

 

Clare Mackintosh  12:34

I think, Yeah, I agree with you. And as a reader, I find those details really make a difference. I was a police officer for 12 years. And I've always read crime novels and have always felt annoyed by by small but significant errors. And so actually, it's not the big things. It's not the kind of, Oh, this case, you know, would never be solved like that. Or that doesn't worry me, because this is fiction. And actually, we don't write about things that probably happen. We write about things that probably wouldn't, but could. What annoys me is the way people talk to each other, the little details that, you know, the British officers who have guns, when actually they wouldn't have, the cars that they drive, those sorts of things that actually are very easy to research, but sometimes are glossed over by writers. And so now that I'm writing out of my comfort zone, because, you know, I wrote my first three novels were police detective, crime thrillers, so I'm writing it in a different space now. And it was important to me that I stay as authentic in this space as I was in my police world.

 

Cindy Burnett  13:43

Did you find it to be very different to write in this space versus in your crime novel space where you were dealing with a police procedural, since that's something you had done in the past?

 

Clare Mackintosh  13:52

I found it quite liberating. And for two reasons, I think firstly, because when you're dealing with a civilian hero, in effect, which is what Mina is in Hostage, they don't have to follow rules. Whereas you know, your police officer has either got to follow the rules of the law and of his or her employer, or they have to justify what why they're not doing it. And so that's where you get the maverick cop, you know, the Lone Ranger who goes off on their own. Whereas Mina could do anything I wanted her to do. And so that was great. And then liberating too, I suppose, because I'm not from that world. And I'm not held back all the time by a little voice saying, well, of course, you know, it's unlikely that that would happen. Or perhaps this, this would be picked up on somewhere else I could, I could let my imagination run wild.

 

Cindy Burnett  14:48

I like that. You're not bound by the strictures of a certain environment like a police detective, having to follow all those rules, but instead could just kind of go in whatever direction you wanted.

 

Clare Mackintosh  14:57

Yeah.

 

Cindy Burnett  14:58

Well, I don't want to give anything away for those that haven't read it so I'm going to be careful how I asked this question. But the ending was just phenomenal. So did you know from the very beginning exactly how the story was going to go? Or did you have the framework for it, and as you wrote, different things developed, but I mean, I just got to the end, and I was like, oh, my gosh.

 

Clare Mackintosh  15:17

You know what, it's really uncool to say this about your own work. But I love that ending so much. Every time I think about it, it kind of, it gives me a little kind of secret smile. It's just really, really fun. But no, I didn't know that was going to happen. And there are actually, there's almost a false end to the to the book, isn't there? So you know that the story comes to a perfectly sort of natural, surprising, twisty end. And then there's a bit more, and it's the bit more that I didn't know was coming. And it didn't come until the very, very last draft. And it It came because the last draft for me is all about polishing those characters and really working out, making sure they're true to themselves, that they are fully rounded, and that they are making decisions that they would make in real life, you know, not not ones that I've done for them. And what happened during that process is that a particular character really, really came to life. And it gave me an idea for what they might do at the end.

 

Cindy Burnett  16:30

Well, I just loved it. I was like, oh, my goodness, you know, I got to the end, and I thought I just had to sit there for like five minutes going. Okay, that was one of the best endings. So you did very well. Radicalization, I'd like to talk about that without getting into the ins and outs of exactly what was happening in the book. But that is such a timely topic. And there seems to be with the internet and Facebook groups and, you know, various ways to reach people these days, a growing problem. And so I was glad that you took it on. And I was curious how you feel about it, and how hard that was to depict.

 

Clare Mackintosh  17:04

It's a really hard topic. And really, it's, I guess the book, Hostage, isn't about radicalization. But clearly, it's a theme that that runs through the book. And in many ways, I felt I could have written a whole different book, just about those, that element and those characters. You know, it really deserved its own platform. It's a subject that's fascinated me for a long time. So when I started in the police, I was posted to Oxford in England. And at the time, there was a huge problem with animal rights protesters. So domestic extremism, which is a type of terrorism that we perhaps don't think of very, very often. But actually, the process is exactly the same whether you are being radicalized into animal rights protests, or religious extremism, or climate change, or feminism or anything else that could be taken to extremes and applied in a dangerous way. And what I found really intriguing about this was the way that ordinary everyday people can cross that line into criminal activity. And that was really what I wanted to explore. And it's something that I learned a lot more about as I went through my police career, and we were always trained to look out for radicalization. That if we came across young people or vulnerable people to make sure that we were alert to the signs that they might be being groomed to move into a radicalized organization.

 

Cindy Burnett  18:48

I thought you depicted that well, because I think you're exactly right. It's a slow process. And it is those vulnerable, lonely, sort of people a lot of times who don't have a place and they want to find some group. And so these groups prey on that, knowing that's the best way to bring people in. But you also kind of depicted that, that people are radicalized, but they don't always know exactly what they're being radicalized for. Like they may be on board with the general idea of the movement, but they don't always know exactly what's going to happen and things kind of get outside their comfort zone or outside of what they're expecting to happen very quickly, and then it's too late.

 

Clare Mackintosh  19:25

Yeah, absolutely. It's ultimately this is about power. And it's the same sort of relationship that we might see in a coercive domestic relationship for example. It's about the perpetrator identifying weakness in their target and exploiting it. And so whether that's by a husband belittling a wife and chipping away at her self esteem, or whether it's someone who is radicalizing a vulnerable person by giving them friendship which is what they desperately need or complimenting them on something that boosts that their self esteem. It's all about the balance of power. And it's incredibly worrying and very dangerous. But of course rich territory for a writer.

 

Cindy Burnett  20:11

Absolutely. Reminds me of cults too. You know, it's that same idea of the power and someone who wants to be in control and brings people into the fold that way, too.

 

Clare Mackintosh  20:21

You're absolutely right. It is exactly that sort of relationship.

 

Cindy Burnett  20:24

It's frightening. Well, what about your favorite character to write in this one and your least favorite character?

 

Clare Mackintosh  20:30

Oh, good question. Um, okay, well, so I've got a bit of a cheat for my least favorite. I'll come back to her. My favorite character was Sophia, who is five years old. And she is Mina and Adam's daughter. Sophia was adopted when she was a baby. She spent the first year of her life first with her birth family. And then in foster care while the adoption was sorted out. And she's a really complex individual. So she is incredibly intelligent, bright, switched on, big eyes, sees, hears everything. But she has a lot of issues that that are a hangover from her chaotic path. So she has attachment disorder. She's very precocious as she was reading at the age of three. And she has a bit of a kind of a power thing going on herself. So she plays mom off against dad and vice versa. And that causes a lot of stress within their relationship. But she is feisty and funny and charming. And I really loved writing her.

 

Cindy Burnett  21:38

I really liked her character arc.

 

Clare Mackintosh  21:40

Yeah, she was fun. And I'd never go back to these characters. This is not a series. This is a one-off book. But I'd love to know, you know where she is in in 10 years time. I think she's she's destined for big things, certainly. But my least favorite character to write. And this is a bit of a cheat because I actually love writing all my characters. But I had to, I had to kill somebody. And I won't give their name because obviously, that's a bit of a spoiler, but someone won, a reader won an auction lot and the prize in this auction, charity auction, was to be a character in my book. And it's a great thing to do. And it raised money for a brilliant charity called Airability, which enables disabled people to take to the sky in a plane. So I was really happy to support it. But by the time the prizes were given out, there was only one character that I could rename, and I knew they were going to die. So I had to have a really awkward chat with this lovely, lovely person who had won this lot and say, look, I'm really excited that you've done this. Thank you so much, really generous. I'm afraid I'm going to have to kill you. And he was awfully nice about it and completely understood but I did feel rather bad that his one sort of claim to fame and stab at immortality ended up so gruesomely.

 

Cindy Burnett  23:05

I don't know, maybe that makes him stand out a little bit more.

 

Clare Mackintosh  23:08

Yeah, maybe.

 

Cindy Burnett  23:10

He's probably like, Okay, good. That's a little bit different character than I was expecting. Well, tell me about the cover. I am such a huge cover and title person. And I just think this cover is fantastic. So did you have any say in it? Did it come back like you wanted it initially? Was there back and forth? How did all of that happen?

 

Clare Mackintosh  23:29

Well, I will tell you something, Cindy, that I've not spoken to anybody about. I didn't like it to begin with. So and this is really unusual for me, because normally I get my covers and I'm like, Oh, my word. This is amazing. But the first iteration of this, I was like, yeah, it's alright.

 

Cindy Burnett  23:54

This is not what I was thinking.

 

Clare Mackintosh  23:57

And so yes, that there was quite a lot of back and forth. And this particular back and forthness was done with my UK publishers who were working on this cover before any of the other countries. And so we talked about it a lot. And we talked a lot about what we wanted to convey. And what it boiled down to was that, of course, there had to be a plane on it. But actually, this is more than just a thriller about something that happens on a plane. This is about relationships and tension and claustrophobia and what's happening on the ground versus what's happening in the air and trying to get those two things somehow represented on the cover. So the sorts of things we played around with were things like making the sky much darker and moodier. So the background to the to the cover is a stormy sky that at the top of the book is really, really dark or almost sort of bluey-black and then lower down it's a bit lighter. We played around with the color trails of a plane, which on some book covers can look really sort of happy and make you think of holidays and, and so they had to be slightly more menacing than that. So they were played around with. And then I think the final touch that we discussed and changed was a single light on in one of the houses. So you see two houses in almost silhouette at the bottom of the cover, and one of them has a fiery light in the window. And that little addition actually made a huge difference. So it was a real team effort. I've got a phenomenal art team in my UK publishing house. And the testament to their success is that actually, it's the first of my covers that is the same in the US and the UK, because both countries have fallen in love with it, and indeed lots of other countries around the world. So it's really exciting to have just one cover.

 

Cindy Burnett  25:55

I was just getting ready to ask you that, that it sounded from this discussion, like the UK and the US cover were the same, which does not happen very often. So that is fabulous. I think it makes it so much less confusing.

 

Clare Mackintosh  26:05

Yeah, I think so, you know, 20 years ago, it probably wasn't a problem. But now everything's online, and everyone is so connected. And bloggers are, you know, blogging about books on both sides of the pond, and everyone's looking at the same books. And actually, I think it can be really confusing if a cover is very, very different. Or even worse, if the title is different. And I've never had that. But I know of several books where the title is different in each country. And that can be really confusing for readers. So I'm delighted to just have one cover. What's interesting I think about the US market versus the UK market is that sometimes the actual books are marketed in very different ways. You know, I've seen novels that are definitely marketed as suspense in the UK, but have a more romance vibe in the US, and vice versa. So it's a very complex business. And I'm glad actually that all I have to do is write the books.

 

Cindy Burnett  27:04

But I think with how small the world has become with the internet and Instagram and Twitter and Facebook, it can be a little confusing.

 

Clare Mackintosh  27:11

Yeah, absolutely.

 

Cindy Burnett  27:12

 Well, what about what you have read recently that you really liked?

 

Clare Mackintosh  27:16

So many things. I've got a few things that aren't quite out yet. But I have read in advanced copy that people should absolutely look out for. So you will have had Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce out a couple of years ago, which was a really funny novel set in the Second World War about a girl who wants to be a reporter, a war correspondent, and ended up running the Agony Page on this women's magazine. It's really funny, but also very, very well researched look at that period of time. Well, she has got a sequel out called Yours Cheerfully. So Yours Cheerfully by AJ Pearce comes out at the end of June, I think, and really, really worth reading. It made me laugh so much. And it was just what I needed in these troubled times. So that's one recommendation.

 

Cindy Burnett  28:11

I loved Dear Mrs. Bird - I can't wait. Yes, It was one of my favorite books that year that it came out, and I cannot wait for Yours Cheerfully. I need to try to get a hold of the galley of that.

 

Clare Mackintosh  28:22

Oh, you must. I actually think it's one of those rare times when it is better than the first one. I think she's really sort of settled into those characters. And it the world's just felt so so real. And it's a it's got a real feminist theme as well about the women working in the munitions factory. I thought it was superb. Really, really great.

 

Cindy Burnett  28:43

Okay, good, great.

 

Clare Mackintosh  28:44

And then I'm really late to the party on this one. But I'm still going to tell everyone to go and read it. So it's Three Women by Lisa Taddeo, which is so incredibly powerful. Now I listened to this on audio. And sometimes I wonder if it's even more powerful when you're listening to the voices of these three women. So I know it's been everywhere. And I'm sure most of your listeners have read it. But if they haven't, they absolutely must.

 

Cindy Burnett  29:12

The last time that I went to BookExpo, the last time they had it in person, she was there and they were really promoting that book.

 

Clare Mackintosh  29:19

Oh, really? And have you read it?

 

Cindy Burnett  29:21

I have not.

 

Clare Mackintosh  29:22

Oh, it is just it's incredibly it's quite uncomfortable listening in or reading in many ways, in the same way that so I loved My Dark Vanessa, which was again very, very powerful, but quite disturbing. But yeah, absolutely superb writing and well worth your time.

 

Cindy Burnett  29:42

I just sometimes don't end up really reading stuff that's very disturbing. I just feel like there's enough happening in the world. And so that's disturbing enough. So I tend to veer away a little bit from disturbing but I've heard nothing but very good things about it.

 

Clare Mackintosh  29:54

I know exactly what you mean, and I always need a bit of a palate cleanser between. If I read something that's very heavy or quite sort of, you know, has potential to be triggering, then I would always follow it up with something like, Dear Mrs. Bird or Yours Cheerfully. So it's why I never stick to just one genre.

 

Cindy Burnett  30:13

I agree. And I think also, there's so many great books coming out in so many genres these days, and that some that cross genres. And so it's just fun to read across all of them. And in fact, I think you even talk about that, at the end of the book, maybe in your Q&A, that your advice to authors is to read every genre?

 

Clare Mackintosh  30:30

Oh, absolutely. And those of us who work in the industry, whether as writers or vloggers podcasters, publishers can sometimes get a little bit hung up on genre, because we're so sort of inside the categories and the industry. But actually, I think most readers just want a good story. And a good story is a good story, no matter what shelf it's on. And I feel perhaps a little bit more passionate about this than I might otherwise because the last book that I wrote wasn't a thriller. So I wrote three police suspense novels, and then I wrote a family drama After the End. And now I've written more of an action thriller. So I really kind of move around a bit. And for any, anyone who wants to write a novel and is serious about getting into publishing, then absolutely read across the genres, look at the New York Times list and, you know, read the top 10 regardless of what genre there is, figure out what it is that that makes these stories so compelling.

 

Cindy Burnett  31:34

I like that. I think that's a good way to look at it. And I do think while the industry has generally really segregated things into like, it has to fit into some genre. There seems to be in the last couple of years, more books that are outside one genre, you know, that could really kind of cross genres, or be genre bending, or whatever it is. And I love that.

 

Clare Mackintosh  31:53

Oh, me too. Absolutely. I was thinking about Ghosted by Rosie Walsh.

 

Cindy Burnett  31:58

I love that book.

 

Clare Mackintosh  31:59

Did you? I loved it, too. So in the UK, it was called The Man Who Didn't Call. And that is a prime example of a book that could be marketed either as romance or as suspense. I've even you know, I've seen it bundled with thrillers, it's got so many different facets to it. And that's why I think let's, let's not get too hung up on genre, just focus on story.

 

Cindy Burnett  32:24

Well, in your point about most readers not really paying attention to that is a really good one, because I hadn't thought about it from that perspective, that all of us who are kind of living and breathing it all the time focus so much on where the book is, you know, how the book is marketed, or how they're labeling it, but probably your everyday reader who's not in the midst of all of it doesn't pay any attention.

 

Clare Mackintosh  32:43

No, absolutely. And particularly if they are bricks and mortar shoppers. So if you walk into a bookshop, nine times out of ten, you will browse, you'll wander around, you'll be drawn to books that are face out or on a table or on a nice display. You'll just be guided by instinct and lovely covers and reading the blurb. The problem comes from online shopping, which of course is a brilliant thing in many ways. But it forces us to go down categories to sort of be penned into virtual shelves and click on more and more sub genres and sub genres. And that I think is slightly dangerous because it narrows our focus and it stops us from discovering something that is a great book, it just might happen to be on a different shelf.

 

Cindy Burnett  33:33

Another great reason to support independent bookstores.

 

Clare Mackintosh  33:36

Oh, absolutely. I'm a huge fan of indie stores.

 

Cindy Burnett  33:40

Me too. Well, this has been an absolute delight. Clare, thank you so much for joining me on the Thoughts from a Page podcast today.

 

Clare Mackintosh  33:47

Oh, I've loved it. Thank you for having me.

 

Cindy Burnett  33:50

Thank you so much for listening to my podcast. If you liked this episode, and I hope you did, please follow me on Instagram at @thoughtsfromapage, tell all of your friends about the podcast, and rate it or subscribe to it wherever you listen to your podcasts. I would greatly appreciate it. Clare's book can be purchased at the Conversations from a Page Bookshop storefront, and the link is in the show notes. I hope you'll tune in next time.