Eve Chase is the author of ten novels including The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde, The Wildling Sisters and Black Rabbit Hall. Her latest novel, The Glass House, was published by Penguin on 14 May 2020.
Eve kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about The Glass House.
A twisty, lush mystery novel, The Glass House is set between 1971 and the present day. When a baby is abandoned outside a remote manor house in the Forest of Dean, the family inside takes her in and hides her from the authorities, forging an explosive secret. Within days someone will lie dead in the woods, and a society scandal explodes. Decades later, a Londoner with holes in her family history and an urgent need for answers sets out to discover the truth.
2. What inspired the book?
I knew I wanted to write about a forest, somewhere lush and ancient, where things can be easily hidden, but also a place of growth and hope. I like to realize the setting – my story’s world, if you like – before I figure out what’s going to happen. I also had an idea about an abandoned baby. Who is she? Who saves and loves her? And the story rooted from these elements.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
I aim to be the former, and end up being the latter. Although I do outline – I need to know there’s enough story for a novel, and so do my editors and agent – but have a tendency to stray rather wildly from the plan since my best ideas come during the writing process itself. I revise a huge amount, rethreading plot strands, sharpening character and laying red herrings. I’m happiest after my first draft is done – the heavy lifting is over, and the rest is crafting and tuning, which I love. It’s this point I look at the manuscript, and realize it may not be so bad after all.
I’d thought by my tenth novel, it’d get easier. I’m not sure it does. So it feels a bit like reinventing the wheel every time. And it’s still totally nerve-wracking, sending that book into the world. I still get The Fear.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I’m a passionate gardener, and totally switch off while working with plants. It uses a different bit of the brain. I run too and, since lockdown, I’ve started swimming in the river, which is heaven. I’m not thinking about writing then. More about dodging swans and floating cowpats.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
Oh god, impossible question. I’d get terribly frustrated with one book, however brilliant. If forced, I’d say the collected works of Shakespeare because I could pick over his work for eternity, finding new meanings, shards of poetry, all the things I was too lazy to do as an English Lit undergraduate.
7. 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?
One my 11-year-old daughter always asks me: if you had to come back as an animal, what would it be?
A bird. With a huge wingspan and no predators, like a hawk. I’ve always wanted to be able to fly, and as a kid, firmly believed I would one day. But I didn’t listen to Peter Pan: ‘Don’t grow up, it’s a trap.’
About the Book
Outside a remote manor house in an idyllic wood, a baby girl is found.
The Harrington family takes her in and disbelief quickly turns to joy. They’re grieving a terrible tragedy of their own and the beautiful baby fills them with hope, lighting up the house’s dark, dusty corners.
Desperate not to lose her to the authorities, they keep her secret, suspended in a blissful summer world where normal rules of behaviour – and the law – don’t seem to apply.
But within days a body will lie dead in the grounds.
And their dreams of a perfect family will shatter like glass.
Years later, the truth will need to be put back together again, piece by piece . . .