Wednesday 22 February 2017

Blog Tour ~ Her Perfect Life by Sam Hepburn

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be interviewing the author Sam Hepburn

on today's stop on the Her Perfect Life Blog Tour

Sam welcome to Jaffareadstoo and thanks for spending time with us today. Tell us a little about yourself and what got you started as an author?

I was a documentary maker at the BBC for over twenty years and although I was dealing with facts, documentary making was all about shaping stories, defining characters, and finding thematic threads so moving on to writing fiction seemed a very natural next step. I started writing adventure mysteries for middle grade children then moved on to thrillers for young adults and now I’ve written my first psychological thriller for adults.

Where did you get the first flash of inspiration for Her Perfect Life?

I was invited to a children’s book festival in Sharjah. Rather cleverly they had a mix of celebrity cooks doing cookery demonstrations and writers talking about their books and we all used to meet up and have dinner together in the evenings. One of the cooks was Lily Jones (aka celebrity baker Lily Vanilli) who told me how she’d been running a small cake stall in a London market and got ‘discovered’ by a broadsheet journalist who was desperately looking for a life-style story. The subsequent article changed her life and she never looked back. That’s when I started thinking about a young baker who suddenly gets catapulted to fame and fortune and how that could change every aspect of her life.

What can you tell us about the story without revealing too much? 

It’s about two woman – Gracie Dwyer, a celebrity cook who has her own TV series, a gorgeous husband and daughter and appears to have it all and the dark intertwining of her life with hard up, hard drinking single mum Juliette, who is bitterly resentful that Gracie has everything that should have been hers.

Whilst you are writing you must live with your characters. How do you feel about them when the book is finished? Are they what you expected them to be? 

Not really. I have a general idea of the characters and then as I begin to write they take on a life of their own and become more complex, revealing unexpected aspects of their personalities. I think characters are much more interesting when we find ourselves secretly sympathising with their less attractive traits and actions and it’s always a surprise when I start to discover what those might be.

How do you plan your writing, are you a plotter, or a see where it goes kind of writer? 

Yes, I’m a plotter who chops, changes and revises as I go along. My husband is brilliant at listening, playing devil’s advocate and throwing in new ideas and when I’m stuck we take the dog for a ‘plot walk’ and thrash out the story as we trudge around Sydenham woods.

What do you consider to be your strongest points as a writer?

Ooh, that’s difficult. The thing I find easiest is dialogue. The thing I find most difficult is describing my characters’ innermost feelings.

And finally...what do you hope that readers will take away from Her Perfect Life?

As the story unfolds I want readers to empathise with Juliet as well as Gracie as each of these characters - in her own flawed way - struggles to be a ‘good’ mother. When they get to the end however, I want readers to feel shocked, horrified and satisfied and to close the book thinking about the power and complexity of mother-love.

More about Sam and her novel, Her Perfect Life can be found by going to the author's website by clicking here 

Blog Tour runs 20th - 25th February 2017

Follow the blog tour on Twitter #Her Perfect Life

 My thanks to Sam for answering my questions so thoughtfully and also to Felicity at Harper Collins for the invitation to be part of this blog tour.


Here's what I thought about Her Perfect Life

23 February 2017

There's something so incredibly likable about Gracie Dwyer that right from the start of the book you can't help but be drawn into her perfect life. Gracie seems to have everything, a handsome and charismatic husband, a beautiful child and a successful cookery business. Thanks to her television cookery series, Gracie is recognised and feted wherever she goes but there is also something vulnerable about her which resonates from the beginning. When single mum Juliet and her daughter, Freya, enter into Gracie's life, you can't help but wonder what these two unlikely women will have in common. Juliet's harsh and brittle personality is in direct contrast to Gracie's sunnier nature, and yet a bond develops between them, which, as time goes by, you can't help but wonder just where it's all going to end for both of them.

From the start of this clever psychological thriller I was drawn into the complex and dangerous world of jealousy, control and deception. The plot is really well controlled and there are more than enough twists and turns in the narrative to keep the reader guessing. Many times I thought that I had the measure of the plot, only to have the author veer off in an entirely unexpected direction. I loved the glossy brilliance of Gracie's life and felt such sympathy for Juliet's character but what was even more compelling was the way that the author always managed to give both characters a real sense of purpose and utter believability.

Without doubt, this is a really good debut novel by an exciting new talent in the psychological suspense genre.

Best read with...Gracie's ginger and walnut biscuits and several cups of strong tea..


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