Q&A With Charlotte Duckworth
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Q&A With Charlotte Duckworth
This week’s Q&A is with the USA Today Bestselling author of psychological suspense Charlotte Duckworth. Some of Charlotte’s many works is Your Perfect Life, The Rival, The Perfect Father and her recent release The Wrong Mother. Under her pen name Charlotte Rixon she writes popular contemporary book club fiction that book is The One That Got Away which is also a recent release.
Q: So Charlotte, would you like to tell the readers of the blog and I a little bit about your latest releases The Wrong Mother & The One That Got Away under your Charlotte Rixon name? How did you come up with the concepts for both novels?
A: Hello, and thanks for having me!
The Wrong Mother is my fifth psych suspense novel, and tells the story of Faye, a 39-year-old single woman who’s always wanted to be a mother, but doesn’t want to do it alone. So she signs up to a co-parenting agency for people who want to have children but don’t necessarily want to be in a couple (yes such things really exist!) and is matched with wealthy, charismatic Louis.
But a year later, she’s on the run from Louis with the baby, and she takes refuge as a lodger in Rachel’s house, in a remote village. We then find out that Rachel and Faye have secrets…
I write a lot about contemporary parenting themes in my suspense novels and when I heard about the idea of co-parenting agencies I just knew this was something I wanted to explore. I had a lot of fun writing that book and I’m really pleased that readers seem to be enjoying it.
The One That Got Away is a very different book! Hence publishing under a pen-name. It tells the story of Clara and Benjamin, who meet when they’re at university. They have very different backgrounds but they fall deeply in love, and have a very tempestuous and passionate relationship throughout their time at university that ends in tragedy on their final evening there.
We then fast-forward 20 years – Clara is married to someone else, but not particularly happy. She’s at work when she hears that a bomb has gone off at the football stadium she knows Benjamin will be at, and so she immediately sets off to find out whether or not he’s OK…
This book was a departure for me to write. I had a big birthday during lockdown and I suppose I became quite nostalgic, looking back at my younger self and the decisions I had made, and I wanted to explore the concept of first love, and what happens to you if your first love ends in tragedy, and what impact this has on the rest of your life.
Q: Charlotte, when did you know that you wanted to be an author?
A: Ever since I could read, really. I have always been obsessed with books, and I wrote my first book when I was 7 or 8, all neatly written up and illustrated for my little sister! I wrote throughout my childhood, finishing my first ‘novel’ when I was about 14.
It was something I always did, very instinctively, rather than anything I made a decision to do. Writing has always been the greatest source of comfort and purpose to me, and I’m very grateful to it.
Q: Who were your biggest supporters who encouraged you to follow your goal to be an author?
A: I think my partner has always been my biggest supporter. Although everyone in my family loved books, I’m not related to anyone who worked in publishing or wrote books themselves, and there definitely wasn’t the idea when I was growing up that it was a viable career. My parents are super proud now, but when I was younger they tried to steer me towards more reliable sources of income. My father really wanted me to be a lawyer, but I ended up becoming a journalist, which was the closest thing I could think of to writing novels that they’d accept! I think my parents are still a bit surprised that I actually managed to make this career work, but they’re super supportive now. My partner is an actor and a singer, and really understands the nature of a creative life. He’s always been 100% behind me, and I’m so grateful for that.
Q: Is it fair to say that the worlds and characters in your books are loosely taken from real life? I know some authors say they take bits and pieces from real places and people they knew or even strangers to create a great fictional story.
A: I always think of all my books as huge melting pots of all the experiences and thoughts I’ve ever had. Inspiration comes from everywhere. I don’t consciously ever base characters on real people, but at the same time, there are elements of all the people I’ve ever known in them.
I think The One That Got Away is the book that most closely mirrors some of my own life, in that I wasn’t particularly happy at university, and I also had a very tempestuous first relationship that I found it difficult to move on from. I also had similar anxiety issues to the main character Clara, when I was young. But the situations Clara finds herself in are fictional!
I guess, as with any art form, there’s a lot of every author in each book they write, but it can be hidden under lots of layers of the story, and sometimes it can be quite subconscious as well.
Q: What made you want to write a different genre under a pen name?
A:To be honest, The One That Got Away wasn’t really written with any intention of being published. I’d written five suspense novels in relatively quick succession, and I just wanted to try something new. When the book was done, I realized it actually hung together, and so I sent it to my agent. She was really enthusiastic about it, but we both agreed it was too different from my other books to be published under my ‘Duckworth’ brand.
It’s quite common in publishing to separate different-genre novels by using a pseudonym. It’s just the way the publishing industry works, and mostly to do with how retailers buy books. Publishing loves a ‘debut’!
It was an open pseudonym though, so when the book was sent to publishers they knew who I was.
Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to your work? The entertainment industry needs new original content again instead of constant remakes, prequels, sequels, reboots and spinoffs.
A: Yes, The One That Got Away is under option to a Hollywood studio. It’s very exciting, but unfortunately I’m not allowed to say who has the rights as it’s not been announced officially yet. Getting optioned is just the first stage in the process – there are a lot of hoops to jump through before you actually get to see something on the screen, so I’m keeping everything crossed!
Q: Can you reveal any details of what you are currently writing right now?
A: I’m not actually writing anything at the moment, which is extremely rare for me! I do have two books already written that are under contract, so I’m waiting for edits to come back on both of those, and rather than start something new I’ve decided to have a bit of a break.
One of those books is a thriller, which will be publishing under Charlotte Duckworth, and the other is another bookclub Charlotte Rixon book. Unfortunately neither have been announced yet but I’m super excited about both of them – one will be out in 2024, and the other in 2025, so I have a busy couple of years ahead!
You can find out more information about Charlotte and her books on her website. You can also follow her on Twitter @charduck and on Instagram @charduck.