About the Book
Release Date: 12th February 2016 (Kindle version)
Publisher: Choc Lit Ltd (under their new ‘Death by Choc Lit’ imprint).
What if you were powerless to protect the person you cared about most?
When Ruby finds out that her partner has done the unforgivable, she has no option but to move out of their home. With nowhere else to go, a job house-sitting in Cambridge seems like the perfect solution.
But it’s soon clear the absent owner hurts everyone he gets close to, and Ruby’s faced with the fallout. As violent repercussions unfold, her instinct is to investigate: it’s a matter of self-preservation. And besides, she’s curious…
But Ruby’s new boss, Nate Bastable, has his eye on her and seems determined to put a stop to her sleuthing. Is he simply worried for the welfare of a member of staff, or is there something altogether more complicated – and potentially dangerous – at play?
From Death by Choc Lit - gripping edge of your seat reads.
Buy UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Clare-Chase/e/B00P5DU5NY/
Buy US: http://www.amazon.com/Clare-Chase/e/B00P5DU5NY/
There are all sorts of things to take into account when choosing the setting for a novel. Here are five points I considered when planning A Stranger’s House.
1. Suitability for the genre
I’ve lived in Cambridge for over twenty years now, and it’s the perfect setting for mystery fiction on a practical level.
I think anywhere can work well for crime, from remote communities to urban areas. But if you’re planning to write a classic (albeit contemporary) mystery, as I was, with a relatively close-knit, interwoven community, then different requirements emerge. It’s useful to have a place with fairly distinct boundaries, and where there are certain structures that connect individuals.
Cambridge’s University is useful in this respect. It employs a large number of residents (in all sorts of capacities), which means there are lots of unexpected links between city-dwellers. These are interesting to explore, and also mean that secrets travel fast. If you want to confide, you’d better be careful who you tell! Cambridge’s housing also contributes to this. Most of the streets are very compact, with lots of Victorian terraces. It’s easy to overhear conversations – in the gardens, out in the road, and even through the walls, if voices are raised. There’s only one layer of brick between us and our neighbours! Luckily they’re lovely. I’m not sure what they think of us…
2. Inspiration – and therefore, sustainability
I knew I wanted to write a whole series of mysteries, not just one book, and Cambridge works for me in this sense, as I find it fascinating. Everywhere I look I get fresh ideas for novels.
It’s a place of contrasts. On the one hand, you have concentrations of wealth. There’s Silicon Fen, a hotspot of successful high-tech businesses. And, once again, there’s the University. According to Wikipedia it had an endowment of £5.89 billion in 2014, and given that it’s over 800 years old, you can imagine how ingrained its presence is here, and how unbreakable some of its traditions seem to be.
At the other end of the scale, you see down and outs and drug dealers on the city’s commons, and certain areas are known for their high crime rates. Because Cambridge is only the size of a market town, these inequalities can be quite striking, and you get people rubbing shoulders who wouldn’t normally cross paths.
3. Distinctive scenery and atmosphere
I must admit, the idea of writing about Cambridge’s beauty – the river, the weeping willows and the ancient architecture – appealed to me. It’s also a peculiarly nostalgic place. I think it’s because around a fifth of the term-time population are students. This means there’s a higher than average proportion of youthful people floating about, reminding me of how I’m becoming a bit more mature (and less floaty).
Cambridge’s streets are crowded with galleries, restaurants and coffee shops, which means it’s fun to depict, and, from a plotting point of view, makes chance encounters believable. It’s also very international. You get scholars and tourists travelling to the city from all over the world, with the added interest and variety that brings.
But it also has lonely spaces. The commons bordering the river can feel very isolated after dark, as do the meadows going out of town – all useful for mystery fiction!
4. Ease of research
OK, so I live in Cambridge. ‘Lazy!’ I hear you cry. I admit the ease of setting a series here did cross my mind. Being able to walk to the setting for a scene in twenty minutes at most has its benefits! I’ve also worked at one of the University departments, and one of the colleges. That experience sparked ideas for stories, and gave me some inside knowledge. It made sense to take advantage of it!
5. High stakes
Where there are high stakes, there’s potential for crime, whether it’s to make money, or maintain or save an international reputation. With multi-million pound research grants at the university, and ground-breaking new technology in industry here, Cambridge has high-stakes aplenty!
Of course, there are dangers involved in using a real place as a setting. I’m living in fear that someone will spot I’ve made an awful mistake, or object to what I say. At the same time, I enjoy reading about places I know myself, so I couldn’t resist it!
About the Author
After graduating in English Literature, she moved to Cambridge and has lived there ever since. She's fascinated by the city's contrasts and contradictions, which feed into her writing. She's worked in diverse settings - from the 800-year-old University to one of the local prisons - and lived everywhere from the house of a Lord to a slug-infested flat. The terrace she now occupies, with her husband and teenage daughters, presents a good happy medium.
As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people's books.
Clare's debut novel, You Think You Know Me, has been shortlisted for an EPIC award, and was chosen as a debut of the month for September 2015 by Lovereading.
Publisher page: http://www.choc-lit.com/productcat/clare-chase/