Blog tour: The Chalet

Welcome to the blog tour for The Chalet by Catherine Cooper, who generously dedicated some of her time to answer my questions below!

Hi Catherine! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of The Chalet! Can you please briefly tell us what it is about?

A: Hi Silvia! Thank you for having me and The Chalet on your blog! The Chalet is set across two main time lines. In 1998 two brothers go out skiing and only one comes back. it’s for the reader to work out what the characters in the second timeline in 2020 do (or don’t) have to do with what happened.

Did you have the plot entirely figured out when you started writing the book or did it take an unexpected turn as the characters grew on the page?

A: I didn’t have it figured out at all. At one point I tried to plan it out with coloured post its on a whiteboard with different colours for different stories, but it still turned out as an entirely different story. There’s a key scene in the middle around which the entire story hinges which I hadn’t planned at all – when it turned out the way it did, it sent the story off in a very different direction. I’m never very good at planning, but for me that makes the writing process much more fun.

Why the choice of the French Alps as the setting for your novel? How important is location for you?

A: I’m a really keen skier and am never happier than when I’m in the mountains. I moved to France in 2009 to be able to ski more, and working as a travel journalist I usually get to go to the Alps several times a year. I read a lot of thrillers but when I started writing The Chalet, I had never found one set in a ski resort (though there are at least two others out this winter so I guess others thought the same thing!) Mountains are an ideal setting for a thriller – so much beauty and yet so much danger. Plus a transient community of people on holiday and seasonal workers. All the ingredients are there.

Was The Chalet your working title? Either way, how did you choose it?

A: No, I called it Cold as a working title. My agent who came up with The Chalet and Harper Collins liked it too.

Without giving too much away, can you tell us about a scene in the book that you love or that was particularly difficult to write?

A: Gosh. I honestly loved writing all of it. The Chalet of the novel is extremely luxurious and I loved writing about all the lavish fittings and great food. I also enjoyed the learning to ski scenes because it took me right back to my own time learning – both the good and the bad!

Is there anything that didn’t make it into the final version of the book?

A: Yes, lots of things. I cut down most of the skiing scenes because there was too much description – I’m glad I did as I didn’t want to put off non-skiers and so far the feedback has very much been that you don’t need to be a skier (or snowboarder) to enjoy the book. There was a whole chunk about chalet girl training which had to go because it was irrelevant (this is what happens when you don’t plan your plot in advance!) and a letter from the girlfriend of one of the 1998 men which added a reveal but all the beta readers hated it so I took it out. Lots of other minor things too that I don’t remember I’m sure.

If you are already working on your next writing project, would you mind giving us a little anticipation of what we are to expect?

A: I have a two book deal and book two (as yet untitled) was written during lockdown and is about to go to my editor. It’s about a couple who move to rural France with their two young sons for a new start after something that happened in their previous life in London. But they learn that you can’t escape your past simply by moving countries.

What are you reading at the moment?

A: One of the best things about being an author is that people now send me books! I’m currently reading The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn and Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker. Both are brilliant in very different ways.

Due to the popularity of social networking websites, interacting with readers – be it via Twitter, Facebook Instagram etc. – is becoming increasingly important. How do you cope with these new demands on authors and do you think that they somehow disrupt your writing schedule?

A: I love being on social media and hearing what readers think so I don’t find it demanding at all – it’s fun. It probably does disrupt my writing schedule though as I can never resist having a quick look to see if anything interesting is happening on Twitter or if there are any exciting new emails. Sometimes if I am feeling virtuous I will leave my phone in a different room and turn the internet off for a while to concentrate on the writing.

What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?

A: Can I have two? First would be read, read and then read some more. But everyone says that, so second would be try to write a little every day while you are working on a first draft. Even if you think the words are terrible, it gives you something to edit. It doesn’t exist until it’s on the page.

Thank you for your time!

A: Pleasure! Thank you!


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