Happy release day!
Thanks to William Morrow Books for the advanced copies in exchange for our honest reviews.
THE MISSING by C.L. Taylor (out today!)
Not only did the #allthebookreviews duo get to read and review this psychological suspense novel, but we also have an author Q&A for you!
Chandra’s Thoughts: 3.5/5 stars
Every family has their secrets. No relationships, within the marriage, siblings, parent/child, are ever perfect. Those you love and that are supposed to be closest to you are the ones that will hurt you the most. They’re also the ones we expect the most out of… right? When a child goes missing, does that strengthen or break these relationships? Secrets come out and we begin to realize that you never know anyone the way you think that you do.
Definitely more of a psychological suspense story than a thriller for me. We see mostly through the eyes of Claire, the mother, as she tries lives in denial that her missing son could possibly be dead. This causes ripples in her relationship with her husband, other son and her friends. Interspersed are various short chapters of a text conversation happening between two people that leaves a sense of foreboding as we, the reader, try and figure out who these people are.
While there is one big reveal, it doesn’t quite shock you as you think it would with all the build up. However, it does run perfectly in pace with the rest of the book as. again, we are more into the relationships within the characters rather than the reasoning behind why Billy has gone missing. The author does a good job keeping each chapter short and leaving you needing to turn to the next page.
I usually like my stories a bit darker and more in my face. This could run slow in some places but mostly it was set at a moderate pace that kept you looking for more. It doesn’t have that punch you typically expect from a book marketed as a psychological THRILLER, but I think if you go in with suspense being more suited, you will enjoy the story Taylor weaves for you. It’s a plausible story that really has you questioning just how much you think you know about the ones closest to you. You always want to believe in the good, but sometimes it’s just not there.
Those who like books such as Luckiest Girl Alive, Reconstruction Amelia and What She Knew will be apt to get truly into this novel.
My Thoughts: 3.5/5 stars
A psychological thriller with a missing child at the center of all of these dysfunctional relationships? Count me in! THE MISSING by C.L. Taylor is a suspenseful character study and the insight into a group of dysfunctional relationships, and when a child goes missing how will that make or break them?
In middle of the night, Bill Wilkinson goes missing. Everyone in the family – especially his mother, Claire – blame themselves for his disappearance. This is a family that is filled with secrets, and not just from the outside world. They’re skilled at keeping things buried from one another, which will prove to be a roadblock in trying to locate Billy. Claire is positive that he’s still alive and that her friends and family members aren’t responsible for his disappearance. Is a mother’s instinct always right?
One thing I really like about this book is that there are the shorter chapters. As someone that reads chapter to chapter (I think it’s madness when you stop part way through a chapter), it makes it so easy to fly through a book. This does have a slower pacing to it, but Taylor keeps the reader’s attention. This book is more character driven than plot driven, so you will get to know the intricacies of each relationship rather than the reasoning behind Billy’s disappearance. The situation is very believable and real – you never truly know the people closest to you.
Overall, I’d say that this was a good psychological suspense novel. It’s not an in your face kind of thriller, but the tension is still there! If you like a character driven novel, then you’ll really enjoy the journey that C.L. Taylor takes you on.
What does your writing process look like?
Once I have an initial idea I brainstorm using a notebook and pen. I work out what it is that my main character wants, what their flaw is that will make it more difficult for them to obtain their goal and what their greatest fear is. I then start plotting my book using the 4 Act (8 sequence) structure and will often write an outline from my plot points. Once that’s done I sit down at my laptop and start the first draft. I’ll work out how many days there are until my deadline and how many words I need to write a day to achieve that. Because of the amount of work I do before I sit down to write my first drafts are fairly ‘tidy’ and my second draft is more of a tweak than a complete rewrite. Once that’s done I deliver the manuscript to my agent and editor.
What is the most difficult part of your writing process? Your writing Kryptonite?
I find endings particularly hard. After so much tension and build up in the body of the novel the ending really has to be brilliant and it can take me quite a long time to come up with an ending that is strong enough to close the book.
How many hours a day do you write?
It depends how close to my deadline I am! When I start writing the first draft I probably write for about three hours a day. As I get closer to deadline I can write for up to eight or ten hours a day (with breaks in between).
Do you have any strange writing habits?
I can’t write if I have cold feet so I keep a pair of ski socks under the desk just in case!
What is your least favorite part of the writing / publishing process? Favorite part?
My favourite part is holding the finished book in my hands. My least favourite part is getting my structural edit back from my editor. I’ll often agree with what they have to say but that ‘how do I fix this?’ feeling can be paralyzing. I normally give myself a few days to digest their feedback then sit down and brainstorm.
Is there one particular subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
I have a six year old son and I could never write about child murder. I just couldn’t go there in my mind.
Is there a type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others?
Fight scenes (physical fights) are very hard to write as it’s difficult to describe how the characters move, connect, fall etc.
Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
I wouldn’t know – all the writers I know are horribly insecure, including me! Seriously though I think a big ego and writing don’t go together well. Self-doubt may be horrible but it makes you work harder as a writer and learn from criticism. If you’ve got a big ego you’re likely to ignore good advice because you think your book is perfect as it is (and it invariably isn’t!)
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
Probably reading The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton when I was a child. I felt as though I’d been magically transported into another world. The characters felt as real to me as my own friends and family did.
How many unpublished/half-finished books do you have?
I’ve started and abandoned three books. One of the books, that I started in my twenties, was about a character in a psychiatric unit but I had no way of researching the book and no idea what a psychiatric unit was like so I abandoned that pretty quickly. Another book I abandoned part way because I didn’t like my main character and if I didn’t like her there was no way my readers would. And the third book I abandoned after 20,000 words because I realized that what I thought was a ground-breaking middle grade book was actually a re-telling of the X Men!
How long does it usually take you to write a book?
It takes me between 16 and 20 weeks to write the first draft.
What are you working on now? What is your next project?
I am currently working on my line edits for my fifth psychological thriller. It’s called THE FEAR and it’ll be out in the UK on 22 nd March 2018. It’s about a woman who had an affair with her teacher when she was at school. Eighteen years she returns to her home town to confront him about what happened and ends up taking him prisoner.
If you could cast the characters of any of your books for a movie, who would play your characters?
I think Sandra Bullock would be excellent as Claire in my book The Missing. And Paul Judd could play her husband Mark. Lucas Hedges would make a great Billy and Sasha Pieterse would make a good Kira.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I do have a quick look at my reviews when a book comes out – just to see what the initial reaction is like – but you could drive yourself mad reading and analyzing all your reviews. I NEVER respond to a review. That’s someone’s opinion and I’ve got no right, as an author, to respond to that. That said if a blogger reviews one of my books and tags me on Twitter I will read it and respond – particularly if it’s good! Bad reviews? They used to sting but I now realise that you’re never going to please everyone and bad reviews are just part of an author’s life.
If you didn’t like writing books, what would you do for a living?
I would have loved to have become an actress but quickly realized that I’d have a hard time landing roles when I hit six foot tall aged sixteen. My drama teacher told me that I’d have a hard time finding leading men taller than me so I ditched that idea. Because I write crime books I spend a lot of time watching documentaries about the police force and an alternate career as a detective quite appeals.
What’s the best money you ever spent as a writer?
I’ve probably spent a fortune on ‘how to write’ books over the years. Some of them aren’t great but there are a few that are worth their weight in gold – ‘Stealing Hollywood’ by Alexandra Sokoloff, ‘Into the Woods’ by John Yorke and ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King are my favourites.
Have you ever gotten reader’s block? How did you get out of it? (and yes, we meant reader’s) 😀
Yes, I absolutely have. I’m very lucky that I’m sent proofs (advanced reader copies) of other authors’ books all the time but readers’ block does kick in when I find myself reading psychological thriller after psychological thriller. I struggle to concentrate or get into them. I find the best way to get over it is to give myself a break from reading then read some non-fiction or a book in a different genre.
Do you google yourself?
Occasionally but normally I only google the title of my book and my name – just to see if there are any early reviews I might have missed.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I once did a guided medication to find out which animal was my spirit animal and almost laughed when I saw a unicorn. I’m the least unicorn person you could ever meet. If I had to choose one I’d probably say a wolf.
What literary character is most like you?
Obviously all my characters are a little bit like me. I can’t think of a literary character written by someone else that’s like me.
What authors have inspired you?
Margaret Atwood, Belinda Bauer and Maggie O’Farrell. Also George Orwell and Aldous Huxley.
What’s one piece of advice you have received that has always resonated with you?
It’s an Elmore Leonard quote – ‘cut the parts that readers skip’.
What’s the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?
I was crying with laughter the other day when my partner was playing with our eighteen month old cockapoo dog and she was up on her hind legs and they looked as though they were dancing together.