C E Rose’s novel, The House on the Water’s Edge, was published by Hera on 9 December 2021. She also writes as Caroline England.
Caroline kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about The House on the Water’s Edge.
Struggling with the challenges of new motherhood since the birth of baby Joe, barrister Ali Baker is traumatised by the death of her own beloved mother in a tragic accident. Haunted by her mum’s last words: ‘There is something I really need to tell you…’ Ali heads to Norfolk to sort out her mother’s effects.
Her memories of childhood summers on the Norfolk Broads are picture-perfect days on the river with her parents and sister, but Ali soon begins to unravel dark family secrets, which threaten her sense of identity – and even her sanity. Nothing – and no one – are what they seem, and when Ali finds herself drawn to an enigmatic stranger, there’s an explosion of shocks and revelations in store for her.
It’s a perfect book for group reading and includes discussion questions at the end.
2. What inspired the book?
I think most novelists include bits of themselves and their lives in their stories and this one is my most autobiographical as I lost my mum when I’d just had my first child. Like Ali, I also spent idyllic holidays on the Norfolk Broads as a child. The rest of the story and all the darkness, twists and turns are entirely fictional, but reviewers have picked up on the authentic and redolent sense of place and memories of golden childhood summers on the river, which are overlaid with much darker psychic landscapes.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
Sometimes I wish I was a plan plan plan writer but I’m very much the latter. I do have vague cast and a few secrets I want to slowly unravel but the characters grab me by the throat and take me on an unexpected journeys! For me that’s the joy of writing, though.
4. Having been through the publishing process before, is there anything about the process of publishing a book that still surprises you?
I think subjectivity is always a surprise, so what appeals to some readers and reviewers doesn’t to others. I’m currently waiting for my editor’s response to my next Caroline England novel and I’m half excited and half dreading it!
Success and sales can also be unexpected. I wish I knew how on earth My Husband’s Lies reached number five in UK kindle chart a few years ago. If only one could bottle that magical formula!
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
Unless I’m on holiday, I’m not the best relaxer in the world. My favourite times are socialising with my three daughters and hubby or meeting up with friends. I force myself out on occasional runs but fortunately I actually like walking!
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
Similar to films or TV programmes, I rarely read a book twice, whereas I do with poetry. I think there’s something therapeutic about reading a poem out loud and finding new meaning in it! So I’d go for The Rattle Bag edited by my two favourite poets Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney.
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?
My third Caroline England psychological thriller Betray Her was published during lockdown and fell under the radar. Although it is fictional, Jo Wragg’s school days are drawn from my own experiences of boarding school, some of which were very dark. I think it would have been therapeutic to talk about it, but nobody asked!
About the Book
Sometimes the past is best left buried
Since the birth of baby Joe five weeks ago, Ali Baker has been struggling to cope. Starved of sleep and haunted by painful memories from the past, she’s a million miles away from the polished, professional barrister she has worked so hard to become.
Then her mother tragically and unexpectedly dies, leaving Ali an orphan. Haunted by her loss, Ali can’t forget her mother’s last words to her: There is something I really need to tell you…
Heading back to the Norfolk Broads to sort her mother’s things, Ali is plunged into memories of her family’s picture-perfect summers on the river.
But as she starts to uncover secrets hidden within the isolated house, Ali is drawn into a dark web that threatens to destroy everything she believed about her childhood – and her very sanity.
Ali may finally discover her mother’s secrets… but at what cost?