Monday, 8 May 2017

BEST OF CRIME with Claire Kendal

Welcome to my latest BEST OF CRIME feature, looking at crime writers' top picks, from their favourite author and fictional detective to their best writing tip. 

Today I'm delighted to welcome 


for her The Second Sister blog tour

to share her BEST OF CRIME ...  

Sylvia Plath may be a surprising choice for a thriller writer, but she has a flawless sense of voice. I love how talky and confiding her different narrators are. She is powerful about obsessions of all kinds, always with the perfect marriage of form and content. I was thinking of the oo oo oo rhymes in her famous poem ‘Daddy’ when I wrote the opening lines of my first novel, The Book of You. It really helped.

Rear Window is a film that has always stayed with me. I admire the way Hitchcock blends crime/thriller with a serious study of men and women at different stages of their relationships. There is always something interesting happening if you look where you aren’t meant to – little hidden treats – and I notice something new with each viewing. The scene where Grace Kelly goes into the murderer’s flat – watched helplessly by wheelchair-bound James Stewart from his window across the courtyard – is unbearably tense. (And I love Grace Kelly’s dresses.)

The BBC adaptation of Wolf Hall brought to life all the complexities of the novels. I couldn’t look away from Mark Rylance’s Cromwell, his quiet watchfulness, his wit, and his sadness too. I was reluctantly charmed – as well as terrified – by Damian Lewis as Henry VIII. But I especially couldn’t take my eyes off Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn. We all know how it ends, but I still wept for her.  

Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley has always been one of my favourite characters. When I read, I am both horrified by him and in terror of his getting caught. I think Ripley would be amazing fun to know (as long as he didn’t want you dead). 

Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch reminds me of my father, with his knowledge of Los Angeles  restaurants and certainty about what he wants to eat in each of them. Harry and my father frequent the same places. Bosch’s love of the city, and his sense of the old Los Angeles as an ever-present ghost beneath the new, is like my father’s too. 

Hannibal Lecter persuades Miggs to swallow his own tongue in The Silence of the Lambs. The weapon here is Lecter’s intimate psychological understanding of his victim.

The heroine of Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa chooses to spend her last days with her own coffin in the room. She gives elaborate instructions about what should happen to her body (no man shall touch her) and writes a letter designed to trick and keep away the libertine who is responsible for her suffering – though the reader remains anxious that he will still manage to gatecrash her death scene. This man plots (unsuccessfully) to steal her corpse so he can embalm it and keep her heart in view.

The Wellcome Collection’s Exhibition pages have a huge amount of fascinating and useful material about medicine. It’s the next-best thing to being in their galleries, and  one of my favourite internet resources. But it is dangerously easy to spend hours there.

Don’t be afraid of getting your writing on the page in rough form that can be improved later. My favourite part of the writing process is playing in the world I have made, once it is all there. I wonder if it is akin to a sculpture gradually taking shape as the surrounding stone is chipped away.

Homemade smoothies. I whiz frozen fruit (mango, strawberries and blueberries) with almond milk, dates and vanilla protein powder. It always boosts me. There. My secret recipe.

Claire Kendal was born in America and educated in England, where she has spent all of her adult life. Her first novel, THE BOOK OF YOU, was a Richard and Judy title and has been translated into over twenty languages. Claire teaches English Literature and Creative Writing, and lives in the South West with her family. 

Find Claire Kendal on her FB page and on Twitter - @ClaireKendal


Publisher's description 
It is ten years since Ella's sister Miranda disappeared without trace, leaving her young baby behind. Chilling new evidence links Miranda to the horrifying Jason Thorne, now in prison for murdering several women. Is it possible that Miranda knew him?
At thirty, Miranda’s age when she vanished, Ella looks uncannily like the sister she idolized. What holds Ella together is her love for her sister’s child and her work as a self-defence expert helping victims.
Haunted by the possibility that Thorne took Miranda, and driven by her nephew’s longing to know about his mother, Ella will do whatever it takes to uncover the truth – no matter how dangerous... 

The Second Sister was published by HarperCollins on 4 May 2017.

Look out for more BEST OF CRIME features coming soon.

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