Today I’m pleased to welcome Colette McBeth to the blog. Colette is the author of Precious Thing and The Life I Left Behind. Her third novel, An Act of Silence was published by Wildfire Books on 29 June 2017.
Colette kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about An Act of Silence.
It’s about a terrible choice a mother makes in order to save her son’s life, and how that decision spares her son but also damns him, poisons their relationship and destroys the lives of others.
Lots of readers have been surprised by the direction the novel takes, thinking it is a straightforward story about a dilemma faced by a mother. But the mother in question was once the Home Secretary and has been involved in covering up the crimes of others. It’s this scandal that now threatens her son’s life and her own.
2. What inspired the book?
I actually started out trying to write a different book entirely but the dynamic between the mother and son came out so strongly I decided to take it in another direction. I knew fairly early on what Linda, the mother in question had done. It’s something despicable and unforgiveable but seen in the context of saving her son we see how impossible her choice was. The sense that good people are capable of bad things comes across strongly in the book.
I also knew Linda was a politician and I was interested to take this book out of the domestic setting. I used to work as a political correspondent for the BBC so it’s a world I was confident writing about.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
PLAN! I wish I could write and see where the story takes me but I drive myself mad plotting and planning for months and months and months. The planning takes longer than the writing. I usually find the first three or four plots aren’t good enough and I play around with the structure a lot. The structure is really part of the plot and is so important to the story.
4. An Act of Silence is your third novel. Is there still anything about the process of creating a novel that still surprises you?
Yes, sometimes I’ll think of a scene or scenario and it doesn’t work and then months later when the plot is fastened it pops up again and works but with a different character or from a different angle. It’s almost like my subconscious is way ahead of me and is waiting for me to catch up!
5. Before becoming an author you were a TV correspondent covering crime and politics. Do you find yourself drawing on your experiences during this time for inspiration for your novels?
Well An Act Of Silence definitely does because I worked in Westminster for a time. I should say I didn’t meet anyone like the characters in the book but you do get a sense that politicians put a certain spin on events on a daily basis and after a while they find it difficult to recognise the truth.
6. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I have three kids so I wish there was time to relax! I do like sport though so I run and I’m a convert to HIIT sessions which are short and sharp and perfect to squeeze into a day. Other than that a walk along the seafront or sitting at my friend’s beach hut make me happy. In fact I’m going there right now!
7. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
That’s such a difficult question. I’d probably say One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez because every time I read it I find something in it I haven’t spotted before.
8. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
What would you do if you weren’t a writer? I think about this a lot because although I love writing and would write no matter what, I’m not sure it’s entirely healthy to sit on your own for a year and a half preparing a piece of work you’ve no idea anyone is going to like! I used to want to be a criminal barrister although I think the time has passed for that career path. More recently, when drooling over houses I suggested I could re train as an architect until my husband pointed out I needed to be good at maths and drawing!
You can read my review of An Act of Silence here.
About the book
These are the facts I collect.
My son Gabriel met a woman called Mariela in a bar. She went home with him. They next morning she was found in an allotment.
Mariela is dead.
Gabriel has been asked to report to Camden Police station in six hours for questioning
Linda Moscow loves her son; it’s her biological instinct to keep him safe. But if she’s not sure of his innocence, how can she stand by him? Should she go against everything she believes in to protect him?
She’s done it before, and the guilt nearly killed her.
Now, the past is catching up with them. As old secrets resurface, Linda is faced with another impossible choice. Only this time, it’s her life on the line…
About the author
Colette McBeth is the critically acclaimed author of psychological thrillers Precious Thing and The Life I Left Behind.
Colette was a BBC TV News television correspondent for ten years, during which time she covered many major crime stories and worked out of Westminster as a political reporter.
She lives on the South Coast with her husband and three children.