Blog tour: The Dark Room

Welcome to the blog tour for The Dark Room by Sam Blake. The author has kindly agreed to answer my questions about the book and more, so grab a cup of your favourite drink and read on…

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

A: The Dark Room is set in a country house hotel in West Cork, Ireland, called Hare’s Landing. Rachel and Caroline both have their own reasons for being there, but as soon as the two women arrive, Hare's Landing begins to reveal its own stories - a 30-year-old missing person's case and the mysterious death of the hotel's former owner. As Rachel and Caroline join forces, it becomes clear that their investigations are intertwined, but that there is nothing more dangerous than the truth...  

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’m a plotter so I had a good bit figured out, but once I start writing the characters always take over and unexpected things happen. In this book there are some spooky goings on that weren’t in the original plan at all – the characters hear music and smell perfume, doors slam, and there is a definite supernatural presence as Rachel and Caroline uncover what’s really been going on at Hare’s Landing. I loved finding out where the characters were going to take me!

Is Hare’s Landing based on a real place? How important is location for you?

A: For me location is like another character in a book – more so in The Dark Room than any other I think. The original inspiration for Hare’s Landing is a hotel called Merchant’s Manor in Falmouth in Cornwall – the ruined tower in the grounds of the hotel is based on the original customs officers’ gaol that is still at the mouth of the Helford River. The story came to me in the summer when I was staying in Helford Passage, but I’ve moved everything to West Cork in January. Patchy internet and lots of rain are important elements that can be found in Cornwall in the winter, but my characters were Irish, and I bring both of them ‘home’ from London and New York, to join the story.

If this novel was going to be turned into a film, who would you cast in the roles of Rachel and Caroline?

A: Very tricky question! Kristen Stewart would be amazing as Caroline and Emma Stone as Rachel. I can dream!

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: There are some scenes at the end of The Dark Room when the supernatural goings on suddenly make sense to Rachel and Caroline, and I loved writing those as I felt that the characters whose stories had been forgotten and misunderstood finally had closure and could move on. The hairs were standing up on the back of my neck as I wrote!

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

A: Everything stayed in this time! Sometimes characters get cut, but I think the more I write the more finely tuned the first draft is. In the first book I wrote, Little Bones, there was a fantastic character whom I loved – Tony’s mother – she was a wonderful Jewish lady from Boston who had very fixed ideas, but who was completely irrelevant to the story so ended up in the edits file.

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: The next book isn’t due to hit the bookshelves until Jan 2022 but (at the moment!) it’s called Remember My Name and it’s about betrayal – ‘one lie questions all truth.’

What are you reading at the moment?

A: Jane Harper’s The Survivors which is out in January too – it’s fantastic!

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 run a few websites as well as write so I’m online a lot, but I love chatting to readers via my Facebook page. The trick is not to spend too much time on social! I fit my writing around the day job so there are constant disruptions, but at least I can justify social media when I’m procrastinating – it’s all brand building.

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

A: Just keep writing – it was the best advice I was ever given. You get better at it with every word you write and you can’t make a blank page better!

Thank you for your time!

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