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A Q&A with Caroline England


Where did your initial idea for Betray Her come from?

This is a tricky question to answer without giving away spoilers! However, I guess the title and the blurb give a hint. The nub of that storyline came from an astonishing real-life situation which got me thinking, ‘what if…?’


Jo and Kate’s friendship is so complex and intriguing because it began in childhood. Where did you get inspiration for their boarding school friendship from?


Many childhood friendships are close and last a whole lifetime, but in the absence of everyday contact with parents and siblings, boarding school ones can be even more intense. During those long days and weeks away from home, the reliance, loyalty, love and attachment you have for your family are transferred to friends. Although the novel is entirely fictional, I can still remember my first days, aged eight, at boarding school: the dreadful rupture from my home and my parents, the constant desolation and homesickness. The saving grace was friendship! But like all potent, loving relationships, if it goes wrong, the fall out can be equally as fierce…


There is a thin line drawn between love and hate in the story, with many of the characters moving quickly between the two. Why are relationships something that you enjoy exploring in your novels?


I’m fascinated by human beings, especially the moral grey area. I love exploring flawed characters and their dark side in domestic settings, so my novels are generally set in homes or work places with a sense of claustrophobic danger or unease between husband and wife or partners or friends. But I also think my stories about ordinary people (you and I) caught up in extraordinary situations. My novels explore deep love between people with complicated backgrounds. Unfortunately, this passion often results in deceit, lies and betrayal. If you’ve read either of my previous novels, The Wife’s Secret or My Husband’s Lies, you’ll know this! And there’s more in Betray Her…

Where do these dysfunctional relationships come from, you might ask. From my imagination, of course, but I’m helped by having once been a divorce lawyer! My male and female clients were often at their lowest dark ebb. Like a counsellor I watched the raw emotion on their faces and listened to stories of perfidy, abuse, dishonesty, controlling behaviour, hidden vices, adultery, violence, sexual deviance and crime. As I qualified in my early twenties, it was quite an eye opener! Little did I know that one day it would inform and influence my writing.


Who do you think the real villain is in the story?


Now that is one tough question! I can’t wait to get feedback from readers and find out what they think!


Which character did you sympathise with the most when writing?


I have a soft spot for all my cast, not only because I’m their ‘mum’, but because they are human; an amalgamation of good and bad from nurture, nature and life’s experiences, like most of us are. Also, like many authors, I put a bit of me in each character!


This is the third psychological thriller that you’ve had published, after writing The Wife’s Secret and My Husband’s Lies. Why do you like writing thrillers? And do you write in any other genre?


I love building up suspense and surprising the reader by hiding secrets, twists and turns, and I can’t help veering to the dark side. This is especially apparent in my short-story collection, Watching Horsepats Feed the Roses, a dozen ‘cameos of quirks and cruelty that traverse the dark side of human nature’. I do like to include a little humour (albeit sometimes dark) if possible. The first book I wrote was a comical-but-dark chick-lit story, and I have written women’s fiction at the suspenseful end of the spectrum. I also have two ‘legal’ novels with a likeable and feisty female solicitor as the protagonist.


What do you think makes a great crime book?


One that grabs the reader by the throat from the beginning and doesn’t let go until the breath-taking ending! Fingers crossed I have achieved that with Betray Her!