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‘The first draft of the story can go anywhere! I find it so exciting not knowing’ Psycho

Crime authors spill their guts about writing…

This week: CATHERINE COOPER

My characters certainly surprise me! There is a pivotal moment in The Chalet on which much of the book hangs which I totally hadn’t planned at all

Tell us about yourself…

I am a freelance travel journalist writing for the UK press and specialising in luxury hotels, family travel and skiing. I live in the South of France close to the Pyrenees with my husband and two teenaged children.

How do you pick character names? Do any have special meaning to you?

I am terrible at picking character names. At least in the first draft many of the characters are named after the last person who emailed me or whatever happens to pop into my head that minute – their surname might be Summer if it’s a sunny day or their name might be cribbed from the spine of the nearest book to me. That said though, some of the names change often in the various drafts – sometimes for plot reasons, sometimes because the name simply no longer suits them as the character develops, and sometimes because I realise I know someone with a similar name and worry they might think the character is based on them.

What’s your favourite part of the writing process and why?

Definitely the first draft as the story can go anywhere! I find it so exciting not knowing. I’m not a planner at all. With The Chalet I tried to plan at one point with a white board and coloured post its representing the various different threads, and while this did help me think about things, the story still ended up as something totally different.

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