Today I’m very happy to welcome Cally Taylor to Liz Loves Books – she was brave enough to do my 20 questions a while ago which I’ve saved for now and a lot of fun it was too. The Escape, her latest psychological thriller comes out tomorrow – don’t miss it! Details follow after the interview.
So we’ve just had a brilliant cover reveal for your next book – now I KNOW how you love to twist the tale on ye olde psychological thrillers, tell us a little about this one…
THE ESCAPE is about a woman called Jo, an agoraphobic and part-time student support officer, who lives in Bristol with her husband Max and their two year old daughter Elise. One day after work a stranger asks her for a lift. Against her better judgement Jo says yes. It’s the worst decision she could have made. Jo’s life swiftly unravels as the stranger becomes more and more involved in her life. Jo believes that her daughter Elise is in danger but when the police, social services and even Max accuse her of lying the only way she can keep her daughter safe is to RUN.
Favourite cheese (we’ll get the cheese question out early)
I love a bit of Stilton. Ideally with bacon and brie on a panini. Or in a pasty with steak.
Are you a Christmas person or bah humbug?
Definitely a Christmas person. I love the build-up, the films, the sparkly decorations, the food, the look on my son’s face on Christmas morning, seeing family, playing stupid games. I could go on and on…
A movie you watch when you just can’t cope with reality..
I don’t have a favourite that I watch and re-watch but I do love a sci-fi film when I can’t cope with reality. Gattica is probably the one I’ve watched the most times.
Desert Island – 5 other writer types you’d like to hang out with if you were stuck for a while and why…
Oh this is too tough as I know and love so many brilliant writers. There are five writers that I always go on writing retreats with as they’re great company. They also happen to be my best friends so I’m going to go with them – Rowan Coleman, Julie Cohen, Kate Harrison, Miranda Dickinson and Tamsyn Murray. Brilliantly funny, highly entertaining, good listeners and they can neck prosecco and gin like no one else I know!
Drink too much wine or everything in moderation?
Ha! (see answer to my last question). I definitely drink too much wine.
Do you have a favourite character that you’ve written?
I am itching to write about the main character in my fifth psychological thriller because she’s so different from anyone else I’ve written before. That said I hugely enjoyed writing Max in THE ESCAPE and Drew, the sixteen year old protagonist in my YA debut THE TREATMENT. Oh, oh, and Isaac in THE LIE was a lot of fun. I can’t chose just one, the others will get upset.
How about a favourite character that someone else has written?
Now this is easier! Ruth, from The Lives and Loves of a She Devil by Fay Weldon has stayed with me for over twenty years. Also, Olive Martin from The Sculptress by Minette Walters is a big favourite. I do love a weird, strong, larger than life female character. Actually those two women are part of the inspiration behind my next book but I can’t say more than that…
If you are invited to a dinner party what would you hate to see on the menu? (And if it was on the menu would you eat it anyway to be polite or hide it in a plant pot or something)
Octopus tentacles. I shudder at the thought. It’s the suckers. I would definitely find a way to hide them.
One thing that irritates you beyond all reason.
People who walk slowly and seem to sway to whichever side I’m trying to overtake them on!
Last book you read that made you cry.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. What I thought was a book about a grumpy old man turned out to be profoundly moving.
When writing are you totally organised or flapping around in chaos?
I’m pretty organised. I do a lot of thinking and plotting before I write a word but there are definitely moments of flapping and/or smacking the desk with my forehead while I write.
One book that you would pretend you had written if only you could get away with it.
I want to say the Harry Potter book or the Bible but they’re obvious answers. Maybe a book that’s really stood the test of time because I think all writers would like their work to live on long after they’ve died and become a classic. Probably Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Not a crime book but definitely dark and memorable.
Something happening to my son.
Favourite flavour of crisps.
It’s changed over the years. I was an out and out salt and vinegar fan as a child and teenager, briefly flirted with cheese and onion in my thirties but now it’s ready salted all the way (am I becoming more bland in my old age?)
3 top songs that you can’t help but sing along to.
Um, right now the main one is the Chris Evan’s jingle ‘How D’Ya Like Your Eggs in the Morning…’ I listen to the radio with my son when we have breakfast and, if that song doesn’t get stuck in my head, it gets stuck in his and then it accompanies us on the fifteen minute walk to school (which is fun). I love The Cure and my favourite songs are the darker ones but when ‘Friday I’m in Love’ is played I can’t help but sing along. Also, ‘Every Day is Like Sunday’ by Morrissey which is a truly miserable song but with a bit of a jaunty tune.
Chasing Rainbows – something magical or unlikely that you absolutely believe in.
Real rainbows? With pots of gold at the end? Um…nope. But chasing your dreams. Hell yes.
How soon can I read The Escape? Tomorrow? Excellent…
You’ve already read it. How did you do that? Some kind of weird time turning thing? Clever.
Last thing that made you laugh out loud…
Lisa Hall sent me a tweet telling me that her email to my editor about The Escape was ‘WELL SCREECHY’. If you’ve met Lisa you can imagine a ‘well screechy’ email from her. It made me laugh out loud.
I know Lisa well. I can indeed imagine her “well screechy” email having had a few of those from her myself…
How much do you hate me right now?
I don’t hate you at all. Although the question about my favourite character was a bit evil.
I have to throw at least one evil question into all of these…
About the book:
“Look after your daughter’s things. And your daughter…”
When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn’t.
The stranger knows Jo’s name, she knows her husband Max and she’s got a glove belonging to Jo’s two year old daughter Elise.
What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo’s own husband turn against her.
No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there’s only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.
I banged through this one. I started it then I growled at it some because it wouldn’t let me go then I finished it just like that. Definitively addictive.
SO the main character, Jo, annoyed the mother loving heck out of me. Yes yes she’s unwell, horrible experiences but it didn’t stop me wanting to slap her. I say this with 100% positivity – I COULD NOT stop reading this until I found out what was what, whether she was fragile or fruit loop and what the blinking heck had her husband been up to anyway?
See? Twisty. Twisty goodness. I’m a fan of irritating characters (and that obviously is subjective) that irritate you in a way that just keeps you turning those pages especially when they can turn around on you. Something that Cally Taylor does INDOMITABLY well is write the divisive, occasionally unsympathetic, layered characters that you engage with, whether by wanting to slap them (seriously can I slap her?) or by loving them or hating them or somewhere in between. Tis a thin line but the main thing is it’s a bloody good story and love or loathe those you find within you will be entertained and find yourself lost in their world.
I hovered between emotions while reading it – there are some stand out thrill moments and some contemplative insights, this is what the psychological thriller is supposed to do, make you crazy, whilst thoroughly embracing that crazy. Top notch really.
I like them when they are like this
Excellent stuff here from Ms Taylor.