Note – I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. No affiliate links were used in this post.
THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT was one of my most anticipated reads for 2016, so I was really excited when I was asked to be part of the book tour and when I had the opportunity to ask Kate Hamer a few questions. If you’re interested, the book was released TODAY so you can check it out right away. My Q&A is down below, but first, I’ll share the synopsis and a quick review.
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Melville House (February 16, 2016)
Costa Book Award for First Novel finalist
Dagger Award finalist
I’ll keep my thoughts short and quick, because we have a Q&A to get to, but I absolutely loved this book. The writing was absolutely beautiful and Hamer’s descriptions made me feel like I was part of the story. I felt like I was there, living through these events with Beth and Carmel. When I opened the book I thought I’d enjoy Beth’s narrative and get through Carmel’s, but I loved hers as well. Carmel really captured my heart. If you’re looking for a thriller that you can sit down and savor, this is it!
Q&A WITH KATE HAMER
1 // Where did the idea for the novel come from?
It started with a central image I had – it felt at the time random or out of the blue – of a little girl standing in a dark forest lost and alone. She’s wearing a red coat and this little girl became the Carmel of the book. I’ve heard many writers say this – that the idea started as a powerful image like that and it’s a matter of figuring out who it is and what their story is. Of course later you realise there are a whole mess of influences that lead up to it. Amongst films and books probably the central influence in this is Little Red Riding Hood.
2 // Why did you choose to tell it from two perspectives?
When I came to writing the first chapter it was surprising because the voice that immediately leapt out at me wasn’t Carmel, but her mother Beth, talking about her daughter and how much she’s missing her. After that it seemed completely natural to tell the story in two voices. It also pleased me to be telling the story of mother and daughter in their own voices. I think it’s a really interesting relationship – mother and daughter – and one that doesn’t often seem to get star billing in literature.
3 // How much did the story change from what you originally had in mind as you wrote it?
The basic story did not change at all although plenty else did. I wrote the last paragraph around the same time as the first few chapters so I always knew where I was headed and the big arcs of how to get there. However there were surprises along the way, which are always lovely when you’re writing because it keeps it so fresh. There are the characters of the twins, for instance, that almost popped out of nowhere clamouring to be heard. It then went through an editing process, first with my agent and then the editor at Faber & Faber and both were brilliant in bringing out the very best in the book. It was streamlined, two chapters got merged into one, one character was got rid of and a new one emerged. It was a long process of developing, strengthening and I’ve no doubt it became a far, far better book for it. The fundamental plot stayed as was though from when I first envisaged it in just a few short weeks.
4 // Can you tell us anything about your next novel?
Yes – I’m busily working to deadline on it. I’m on about the third draft but I want to do another one – strengthening, enriching (hopefully!). It’s a coming of age novel about a girl called Ruby and has more than a dash of the supernatural in it. I’ve started a third novel too but I’m trying to keep that at bay until this one is finished. Writing is so time consuming. It’s hard when you have ideas bubbling over – you just want to get them down on the page!
A BIG thank you to Kate Hamer for answering my questions and to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing the opportunity.
About Kate Hamer
KATE HAMER is a winner of the Rhys Davies Short Story Prize. Girl in the Red Coat is her first novel. It is shortlisted for the Costa Book Award for First Novel and a finalist for The Dagger Award. She lives in Cardiff, Wales with her husband and two children.