Today I’m VERY happy to be interviewing Camilla Way all about the heart stopping Watching Edie – a psychological thriller not to be missed. Details on the book follow after the interview. Thanks so much Camilla for taking the time.
Thanks so much for answering some questions – Watching Edie really was a brilliant book with many talking points – my first question goes to that actually, at the end (before the end) Killer Reads asks the reader “what are you feeling right NOW” – I struggled to answer that but with no spoilers, what were you feeling as you wrote that part – the part that will have a lot of people on the floor. (Sorry we are going straight in at the deep end)
Hello, thank you for having me, and I’m so glad you liked the book! It felt quite emotional writing that scene, mainly because it is SO damning for that character. I actually felt quite sorry for her and as though I was throwing her under the bus a bit by describing the phone call she made all those years ago. It’s the final nail in her coffin, isn’t it? Hopefully she is in some ways a sympathetic character and I did try to show there are various reasons why she acted the way she did, but there’s no real coming back from that phone call. Or maybe there is? Can she be redeemed? I really wanted to explore the ideas of guilt and blame and redemption in the book so hopefully that scene raises questions around those themes.
It was an interesting way of using the past/present vibe – with one girl telling the “now” and the other telling the “then” and it works extremely well especially when it comes to exploring their friendship, it allows for some interesting interpretation especially when you do come to the finale – did that come about naturally and intentionally right from the beginning or did you try several methods to make it work?
In its original incarnation the book was purely from Edie’s point of view, both past and present. It was my agent who suggested adding Heather’s voice and it was one of those ‘duh, of course!’ moments. As soon as I started writing Heather’s voice it came very easily, probably the easiest character I’ve ever had to write. I always intended the book to have a ‘past’ and ‘present’ dual narrative, though, because I wanted to explore the question of how we change as we become adults, how our past shapes our future, and the nebulous nature of guilt.
Talking about the two girls – Edie and Heather – Heather is your typical “misfit” but I thought that probably at her heart Edie – who could outwardly become the “popular” girl if you want to label people – was also that way. It is simply their different experiences and influences that put them on the paths they end up on. What inspired both them and their story originally? And who was harder to write?
Edie’s voice was partly inspired by a short story I wrote for Arena magazine many years ago. I never completely forgot her, I liked her voice, how feisty but vulnerable she was and she never let me go, so I built on her for the novel. Yes, I agree they’re both misfits in a way, I think Edie likes being beautiful, she thinks male attention validates her, partly because of the way her father left. Heather is far more vulnerable, she’s not as experienced and astute as Edie, she’s very childlike in many ways, I think they both offer the other something they need, Edie adulation, Heather someone to adore and look up to.
Edie’s lost when she moves to Fremton without friends, Heather is the ideal person to comfort her. She admits at one point in the book that she likes who she is in Heather’s eyes, and I think she looks into Heather’s eyes and sees her worth reflected back at her. I have to say, I have no idea where Heather came from, she just seemed to arrive fully formed in my head one day! She was definitely the easiest to write, though Edie wasn’t difficult, I think she is perhaps a more complicated person, and it was important I got right the many shades of grey in her personality. The story itself was inspired by a news story about teenage bullying that had horrifying consequences. The rooftop scene came first, I just had to figure out how the two characters came to that point!
What do you hope that people take away from “Watching Edie” – I left the novel behind me with absolutely no idea how I would read anything else ever (its ok it passed) and I found that I had a fair amount of sympathy for both girls ultimately. As the author, would that be a good thing that I’m telling you that? Or are you secretly going NO YOU NEED TO HATE THIS ONE. Always interesting to hear from the writer’s side!
No, I’m very glad that you had sympathy for both of them! The crime that is committed is so awful, and there is, obviously one clear victim, but I wanted to look at the many different shades of guilt, and whether anyone can be redeemed or forgiven for atrocities committed in their past. There is a line quite early on in the book that has Edie saying about her unborn child, ‘I only have one wish for it, I hope with all my heart that it isn’t a girl,’ and I wanted the reader to consider why she would say that, and what bearing it has on the final outcome and who is really to blame for what ultimately happened. But yes, I’m glad that you sympathised with both of them, I didn’t want it to be entirely black or white!
Finally tell us a little about you in 5 easy soundbites.
* Tea, coffee or other
* One book you read then went “DAMN I wish I had written that”
Probably The Vanishing Act of Esme Lenox by Maggie O’Farrell, or Engleby by Sebastian Faulks or Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton. But you want only one…. Argh, Esme Lenox, I think. I’m not quite getting the ‘soundbite’ part of this, am I?
* Musical taste in 3 favourite songs
As by Stevie Wonder, Life on Mars by David Bowie, Close to Me by the Cure
*One piece of technology you just couldn’t live without
My Iphone, predictably (sorry). I’m a shocking insomniac so can’t cope without my audio books. I’m constantly writing down my ideas in the notes thingy, it has all the pictures of my kids on, I can order Uber cabs and find my way with Google Maps (I literally have no sense of direction). And I hear you can even make phone calls with it too!
*One person who inspires you
My dad died when I was 18, but he was a writer too (spy thrillers!), he used to get up at 5 in the morning and write his books before his day job so that was pretty inspiring. It showed me that writing is hard work but so worth it. I grew up in south east London and he had a poet’s way of looking at the city that really influenced me, he saw the beauty amongst the grime and I tried to reflect that in my first book, The Dead of Summer, in which Eighties Greenwich and the Thames plays a big part.
My pleasure. Thank you for having me.
About the book:
Beautiful, creative, a little wild… Edie was the kind of girl who immediately caused a stir when she walked into your life. And she had dreams back then—but it didn’t take long for her to learn that things don’t always turn out the way you want them to.
Now, at thirty-three, Edie is working as a waitress, pregnant and alone. And when she becomes overwhelmed by the needs of her new baby and sinks into a bleak despair, she thinks that there’s no one to turn to…
But someone’s been watching Edie, waiting for the chance to prove once again what a perfect friend she can be.
Read my review of Watching Edie HERE
You can follow Camilla Way on Twitter here
To Purchase “Watching Edie” clickety click right HERE
“Its no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then” – Lewis Carroll. Alice in Wonderland.