Today on Meet the Author we’re talking to the lovely Rachel Sergeant….
Psychological thrillers and detective mysteries
Tell us a bit about yourself:
Thank you, Chelle, for inviting me along to your Meet the Author feature.
I’m a crime writer, published by HarperCollins.
Born and brought up in Lincolnshire, I moved to Aberystwyth for university and then Surrey and London for work. I also lived in Shrewsbury for five years and in Germany for nearly ten years. I now live in Gloucestershire with my family.
What inspired you to start writing?
True story: a palm reader at a party insisted that I should try writing.
How many books have you written and published?
Three of my books have been published and my next psychological thriller, The Roommates, comes out in the autumn. My agent has three more of my books waiting in the wings.
Which book, out of all the books you have written, is your favourite and why?
I like each of them for different reasons.
The Perfect Neighbours has become a bestseller so that’s very special to me.
The Good Teacher grew out of the first tiny bit of creative writing I scribbled after the palm reader told me to give writing a go.
Gallipoli: Year of Love and Duty involved painstaking research and is loosely based on the precious 1915 diary of my husband’s grandmother who was a nurse on a hospital ship there.
Writing The Roommates – a thriller set in a university freshers’ week – made me relive some of my happy student days and compare them with my daughter’s current experiences.
How do you choose the names of your characters?
Each name pops into my head with the rest of the character’s personality when I start writing. Sometimes I have to change them if two names look too similar on the page. I usually refer to lists of top 100 baby names in a particular year to make sure the names are appropriate to the age of the character.
Which of your characters would you want to be stranded on an island with, and why?
Detective Constable Pippa “Agatha” Adams from The Good Teacher. As well as being a decent, honest person, she talks nonstop which would save me having to make small talk (something I’m useless at). She also spent 3 years at a performing arts college and is a fantastic dancer so she’d keep me entertained.
Who is your favourite author and which of their books is your favourite, and why?
Agatha Christie. I’ve read a good many of her books and don’t like them all – the xenophobia in some is uncomfortable – but she is the queen of plotting. Her books have been turned into first-rate TV, film and stage adaptations. My favourites starred Joan Hickson as Miss Marple and David Suchet as Poirot.
Favourite novel? I’ll say Death on the Nile because of the ambiguous personality of the killer.
What is the first thing you can remember writing?
At infants school we had to draw a line halfway across the page in our exercise books. The top half was for a picture and the bottom was for writing. I remember breaking onto the second page to complete my story. I recall it being about my ambitions to become a nurse when I grew up. I must have been heavily into fiction even in those days. I had no desire to be a nurse but couldn’t think of any other jobs to write about so I made it up.
What other jobs have you done other than being an author?
In October I took the plunge to become a full-time author after working for many years as a chartered librarian, latterly in a lovely school. I used to be an area manager for libraries in a London borough. I’ve also been an English teacher at a university in Germany and a swimming teacher.
If you could get in a time machine and had one chance to travel, where would you go? (Backwards or forwards!)
I’m a very nervous traveller. Don’t even like going on an aeroplane and I get seasick on the cross-Channel ferry so I think a time machine would be a dimension too far. When I fancy a spot of time travelling, I watch Doctor Who.
If you could have one conversation with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I’m a useless conversationalist so I’m happy to listen to anyone who’ll keep up both ends of the conversation. This year I’ve plucked up the courage to attend Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate and Morecambe and Vice. If you see me at either of these festivals with my nose in a book, please talk to me.
What are your favourite things to do?
When I’m not writing or reading, I love visiting country houses and coffee shops, swimming and going to the theatre.
What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you?
Well, there was this palm reader at a party once…
If you could give your younger writing self any advice what would it be?
Keep writing, keep reading.
Name one book you think everyone should read?!
My recommendation is read whatever grabs you and don’t bother with books that aren’t your cup of tea. Let reading be a delight, not a chore. The most fun I’ve had with a book is reading Francesca Simon’s Horrid Henryseries to my son. But curl up with whatever book makes you feel good or happy or sad or scared or educated, whatever you want to be.
And finally, tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it?
The Good Teacher
A detective mystery featuring DC Pippa “Agatha” Adams. Published in eBook and paperback by HarperCollins Killer Reads.
Even the good have to die.
A beloved teacher is murdered and left in a ditch beside a country lane. His wife is found beaten and gagged in their suburban home.
Even the best schools have secrets.
New detective Pippa Adams learns that the teacher ran a homework club for vulnerable pupils. But what did he really teach them?
Even the perfect family has something to hide.
When Pippa scratches the surface of the school community, she meets families who’ve learned a shattering lesson. And finally uncovers the good teacher’s darkest secrets…
Thanks so much Rachel for taking part! Your books sound fab, and I’ll definitely be reading them (especially the one about Gallipoli!)
Any questions/comments for Rachel, the get in touch!
Have a great hump day all!