Mark Edwards is the best-selling author, his books having sold over 3 million copies worldwide. His books include The Magpies, Kissing Games, What You Wish For, Because She Loves Me and Follow You Home. His latest novel, Here to Stay, was published by Thomas and Mercer on 1 September 2019.
Mark kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about Here to Stay.
It’s a psychological thriller about in-laws from hell. Elliot is a scientist who lives in a big house in south London with his cat. He’s lonely and when he meets Gemma Robinson he falls hard and they get married after only a couple of months. Then she asks if her parents and sister, who have been living in France, can come to stay for a little while. He says yes – and soon lives to regret it. The Robinsons are a truly evil bunch who do everything they can to destroy Elliot’s life. And they have a whole history of dark secrets that Elliot must uncover if he has any chance of resisting them and fighting back.
2. What inspired the book?
A family friend, who still lives with his parents and sister, got married a couple of years ago and moved his new wife into the family home. She fled a few months later and we heard stories of the terrible treatment she had endured at the hands of her new in-laws. This immediately sparked an idea. How bad must it have been for her to end her marriage so quickly? I decided that rather have my main character move in with his in-laws, I would flip the scenario. They say an Englishman’s home is his castle, and this book explores what it’s like to have your home invaded by a barbarian horde.
3. You won at the Theakston’s Crime Writing Festival at Harrogate in July. What did this award mean to you?
It was so exciting! I hadn’t won anything since I was awarded the English prize (twice) at school, and it was a lovely feeling to go up on that stage and collect my rather beautiful trophy. It means a lot because the Dead Good Reader awards are voted for by readers. All the finalists and winners come from a public vote. I was already having a great Harrogate and this made it even better.
4. Is there one piece of advice you would give to the past you, looking back on all the ups and downs of your writing career so far?
I would tell my much younger self, who took a long time to get published, to decide exactly what kind of books I wanted to write rather than flip-flopping around like I did in the past. And I would tell myself to remember that being a writer is a long game, a marathon, and that it’s not worth getting upset about the small things even if they feel huge at the time. I would probably also tell myself to chill out!
5. Do you have a favourite of your books?
I honestly think Here To Stay is my best book, but apart from that it would be Follow You Home. That book was a big jump in terms of ambition and scope and I think the set-up –where a couple are kicked off a train in the middle of nowhere and see something scary in the woods – was pretty unbeatable in terms of intrigue and darkness. It’s also my biggest-selling book and it paid my mortgage for a few years so that helps me think fondly of it too!
6. If you had to choose, which would you give up: reading so you could keep writing or writing so you could keep on reading?
I can’t really imagine giving up reading because I love books and it’s the reason why I write. If I hear that a writer doesn’t read it puts me off wanting to try their books because I don’t believe you can be a good writer if you’re not a big reader. But on a purely practical level I would have to give up reading first because writing is my job and I don’t ever want to stop doing it.
About the book
Gemma Robinson comes into Elliot’s life like a whirlwind, and they marry and settle into his home. When she asks him if her parents can come to stay for a couple of weeks, he is keen to oblige – he just doesn’t quite know what he’s signing up for.
The Robinsons arrive with Gemma’s sister, Chloe, a mysterious young woman who refuses to speak or leave her room. Elliot starts to suspect that the Robinsons are hiding a dark secret. And then there are the scars on his wife’s body that she won’t talk about…
As Elliot’s in-laws become more comfortable in his home, encroaching on all aspects of his life, it becomes clear that they have no intention of moving out. To protect Gemma, and their marriage, Elliot delves into the Robinsons’ past. But is he prepared for the truth?
About the author
Author of the bestselling novel, The Magpies, Kissing Games, What You Wish For, Because She Loves Me, Follow You Home, The Devil’s Work, The Lucky Ones and a number of novels with Louise Voss, Mark has sold well over three million copies of his novels. He grew up on the south coast of England and started writing in his twenties while working in a number of dead-end jobs. He lived in Tokyo for a year and is a great admirer of Japanese writers and horror films. Mark lives near Wolverhampton, England, with his wife, their three children and a ginger cat.
*I was asked to host this Q&A to help promote Here to Stay. I did not receive a copy of the book or any other payment for doing so.*