New Release Spotlight: The Girl in the Red Coat – Interview with Kate Hamer.


Today I am VERY happy to welcome Kate to the blog where she tells us a little more about The Girl in the Red Coat.

  • Tell us a little about the inspiration behind the story.

The whole book really sprang from a very clear image I had – several years ago now. It was a little girl with curly, wayward hair and wearing a red coat. She was standing in a forest and was lost, I was sure of it, but I didn’t know why or how. Then one night in bed the first chapter came to me and I sat up and wrote it in one rush. Surprisingly, the chapter was not in the girl’s voice but her Mum’s – she’d been taken, that’s why she was lost.

It’s so hard to know where these things come from, but what I do know is that I was brought up on a diet of fairy tales. To a certain extent I think Carmel is a little Red Riding Hood, strayed from the path and threatened by wolves.


  • Was it difficult to write from Carmel’s point of view, following as it does her life from quite a young age – maturing as events occurred?

One of the missions in the book was to get eight-year-old Carmel’s voice right. On the one hand she is a child and that needs to be reflected in the voice. On the other I knew she was an intelligent child with her own thoughts and ideas and I didn’t want to ‘talk down’ to her by making her voice too childish. This balance was sometimes tricky – reading it out aloud really helped. In terms of her voice as events unfold though, I found I simply grew with her!


  • Beth was a beautiful character to read from an emotional point of view – was there any research involved in how people can react to the horrific realisation that your child has been abducted?

Quite early on in the writing of the book I made a decision to steer away from researching real life stories – for several reasons. I wanted this to be Beth and Carmel’s story, unique to them and the best way I could see of doing that was writing from the inside of the character, rather than pasting experiences on her – if that makes sense. But also in a funny way I didn’t want to feel I was appropriating anyone else’s experience for the book. This is Beth and Carmel’s story alone.


  • Can you tell us anything about your next project?

It involves another feisty girl – I’m very excited by it and my head is right in it now. So much so that sometimes I have to refocus a bit to talk about ‘The Girl in the Red Coat’!!


  • Favourite thing to do on a lazy Sunday.

Oh, catching up on reading every time – Sunday tends to me my day off from writing to recharge the batteries. Other than that going for a long walk with a pub lunch at the end of it. I lead a pretty quiet life!


  • One book you’d recommend to everyone.

That changes as it’s usually something I’ve read recently that’s particularly struck me. At the moment that would be ‘Great House’ by Nicole Krauss – she is an extraordinary writer.


  • 3 people alive or dead you would like to have at a dinner party.

I’d love to invite two authors whose books I run to when I’m feeling a bit down or bruised. The first in a mid-century American writer Betty MacDonald who books such as ‘Anybody can do Anything’ and ‘The Plague and I’ were drawn from her own eventful life. They have such humanity and humour – I love them. The same goes for Stella Gibbons, the author of ‘Cold Comfort Farm.’ The wry humour gets me every time – and I must have read it at least ten times. I think both women would be great fun and would have plenty to talk about with each other.

Lastly, it’s rumoured that I have a relative who founded her own religion. Joanna Southcott believed herself to be bearing the new messiah and attracted a sizable following in the eighteenth century. I’d love to meet her – but I’m not too sure what the other two would make of her!


THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT by Kate Hamer is published on 5th March, £12.99 (Faber & Faber)

Kate Hamer’s stand-out debut thriller is the hugely moving story of an abduction that will keep you guessing until the very last page. Carmel has always been different. Carmel’s mother, Beth, newly single, worries about her daughter’s strangeness, especially as she is trying to rebuild a life for the two of them on her own. When she takes eight year-old Carmel to a local children’s festival, her worst fear is realised: Carmel disappears. Unable to accept the possibility that her daughter might be gone for good, Beth embarks on a mission to find her. Meanwhile, Carmel begins an extraordinary and terrifying journey of her own, with a man who believes she is a saviour.

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Happy Reading Folks!

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