Anna Wharton’s debut novel, The Imposter, was published by Mantle on 1 April 2021.
Anna kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about The Imposter.
The Imposter is a psychological drama ostensibly about a newspaper archivist, Chloe, who becomes obsessed with the story of a little girl who went missing 25 years before. Chloe ends up moving in with the grieving family, who have never given up hope of their daughter’s return, to get to the bottom of the story of the missing girl. Yet she discovers much more than she bargained for.
2. What inspired the book?
Hmmm, I’m not sure what inspired the book but I do remember the moment the characters arrived. I was on the tube and my mind was wandering, and it was one of those moments that you have as a writer when you come up with a scenario and stretch it further and further and further until you have something starting to resemble plot.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
Definitely plan. I would love to just sit down and go along the journey, but I have to have a rough idea of where I’m going. I mean, saying that, I redrafted this book about six times. I know I got two-thirds of the way through many times and then it kind of drifted off. But the moment when you actually know figure out what the hell is going on, is a great one.
However, I was caution against over planning, don’t tell yourself the story in too much detail — it lets too much air out of the balloon.
4. Is there anything about the process of publishing a book that surprised you?
Well, I have had many books that I have ghostwritten published, so I thought I knew the industry pretty well, but fiction is completely different. I can finish writing a non-fiction book in a matter of months and have it published within the year. Fiction is soooo much slower, both in terms of writing and the necessity to build that buzz about the book.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
Reading, mostly. But to be honest, I’m sure you know that as a writer you are never not writing. The time you spend at your desk pinning the words to the page is probably about 10% of the writing process, the rest of the time is whatever story you’ve got going on in your head taking shape, whether that’s talking, reading, watching a film, dreaming, riding the tube…
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
Oh god! No! Don’t do this to me. I mean, you don’t even say an author… just a book?! Impossible.
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?
Q: why is the first third of your book so slow?
A: if you think that, you’ve misunderstood the story in it’s entirety.
About the Book
They say you can’t choose your family . . . But what if they’re wrong?
Chloe lives a quiet life. Working as a newspaper archivist in the day and taking care of her nan in the evening, she’s happy simply to read about the lives of others as she files the news clippings from the safety of her desk.
But there’s one story that she can’t stop thinking about. The case of Angie Kyle – a girl, Chloe’s age, who went missing as a child. A girl whose parents never gave up hope.
When Chloe’s nan is moved into care, leaving Chloe on the brink of homelessness, she takes a desperate step: answering an ad to be a lodger in the missing girl’s family home. It could be the perfect opportunity to get closer to the story she’s read so much about. But it’s not long until she realizes this couple isn’t all they seem. In a house where everyone has something to hide, is it possible to get too close?