She Chose Me by Tracey Emerson
Review to follow
‘Not having a child can change your life as much as having one.’
Grace has returned to London after twenty years abroad to manage her dying mother’s affairs. When she receives a blank Mother’s Day card in the post, she is confused and unsettled. Who could have sent it to her and why? She isn’t a mother.
Another Mother’s Day card arrives. Then come the silent phone calls. Haunted by disturbing flashbacks, Grace starts to unravel. Someone is out to get her. Someone who knows what she has done. Someone who will make her face the past she has run from for so long.
Thanks so much for your interest and great questions! Best wishes, Tracey.
Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?
A) As an army kid, I spent my childhood moving between military bases in the U.K., Germany, the Middle East and South-East Asia. After school, I went to Bretton Hall College, which was part of Leeds University. I trained as an actor there and went on to work in theatre and community arts before turning to fiction writing.
She Chose Me is a psychological thriller about a single, childless woman, Grace, who has returned to London after 20 years abroad to care for her dying mother. The mystery begins when Grace receives a blank Mother’s Day card in the post. Who could have sent it to her and why? She isn’t a mother. When another card arrives, followed by a spate of silent phone calls, Grace begins to unravel. Haunted by disturbing flashbacks, she realises someone is out to get her, and she knows the only way she will survive is by confronting the dark past she has run from for so long.
Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?
A) I had the original idea some years whilst out walking—this is always when the ideas seem to arrive! Soon afterwards, I embarked on my Creative Writing PhD at the University of Edinburgh and decided to write the novel as the PhD’s creative component.
The journey from idea to publication was a long one. I thought at first that in order to make the original idea work, I would have to set it in the future and write a dystopian novel. 90,000 words later, I realised the idea didn’t fit the genre and had to start again. By the end of my PhD I had a two-viewpoint literary novel called Choose Me. Another draft later, I had the thriller version that got me my agent. We came close with our first round of submissions to publishers and then I revised the novel yet again. This version got me my publishing deal.
Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?
A) There are too many brilliant ones to pick from so I’ll focus on novels that shaped my thinking while I was writing She Chose Me: Doris Lessing’s Memoirs of a Survivor, Surfacing by Margaret Atwood and Toni Morrison’s Beloved were all influential. As were Nina Todd Has Gone by Lesley Glaister, Disclaimer by Renée Knight and The Offering by Grace McCleen. I also re-read Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley. Highsmith is so skilled at writing twisted but sympathetic anti-heroes.
Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?
A) I grew up in the 70’s, so Enid Blyton’s books dominated my younger childhood, in particular the Malory Towers and The Wishing Chair series. I also loved The Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Later, The Wind in The Willows, Tales of The Arabian Nights and Little Women were particular favourites, along with classics like Lorna Doone, The Swiss Family Robinson and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
I was a teenager before YA fiction came along, so I read a combination of the good commercial fiction my parents had at home and the literary works I studied at school. I devoured Stephen King in my teens and remember loving V.C. Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic series. Favourite books from school included Lord of The Flies and All Quiet on the Western Front. In my late teens, I read a lot of plays, poetry, books by and about Jim Morrison and like all my friends, I obsessed over The Bell Jar and cried over Jonathon Livingston Seagull. And let’s not forget Viz magazine and comedy classic, The Daily Sport!
Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?
A) Holding a finished copy of She Chose Me for the first time was pretty special. But I’m really enjoying this part of the process—getting to engage with readers and share the book with them.
Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?
A) Considering writing is often thought of as a solitary process, it’s taken a huge team of people to make She Chose Me possible. I’ve had support and encouragement from my writing mentors, the Creative Writing staff at The University of Edinburgh and the other students I met whilst studying there. Then there’s my brilliant agent, Charlie Brotherstone, and all the team at Legend Press. Closer to home, I’ve had invaluable support from my family, friends and the people I share my life with. I’m indebted to them all.
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