The one where I got glammed up

Earlier this year I was invited to the Specsavers Nielsen Bestseller Awards to receive two silver awards for The Acccident and The Lie (for sales of over 250,000 copies).

It was SUCH a glamorous affair. The wonderful Mariella Frostrop was the MC and so many amazing authors were honoured with awards including Paula Hawkins, Maggie O’Farrell (I had a bit of a fan girl moment when I realised I was standing behind her in the queue), Peter James, Phillipa Gregory, Dougie and Tom from McFly, Jill Mansell, Clare Mackintosh and so many more. It really was a ‘pinch me’ moment and one of the most magical nights of my career.

Here’s a selection of photos from the official website and by my friend Rowan Coleman who came with me,

And here’s a video of me being interviewed after I received my awards (terrible freeze-frame!).

Not long now until THE FEAR is published (22nd March). I have been so chuffed with the reaction from authors and readers who’ve received advance proofs and am excited and nervous about the book coming out.

I’ve just started writing my sixth psychological thriller and life is becoming increasingly hectic as I try and balance writing the first draft with  posts for the blog tour, articles for magazines and websites, and answering Q&As. I need more hours in the day.

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What inspired your novel?


Plotting a novel: if all else fails – draw little stick men and women to try and make sense of your idea. It works for me (sometimes).

It’s a question that comes up in interviews a lot:

‘What inspired your novel?’

It’s always a difficult question to answer, not least because it’s normally at least 12 months since I wrote the book and 18 months since the first spark of an idea.

The more novels I write the more I realise how much an idea twists, squirms and transforms after the initial spark. THE MISSING was originally going to be about two boys who run away in different circumstances and their stories intersect when boy 2 finds the dead body of boy 1. Why didn’t I go with that idea? I honestly can’t remember. It’s that squirming thing I mentioned at the start of this paragraph. An idea is a bit like a piece of plasticine. It appears to be to be a certain shape but when you try to find out more about it – when you prod it a bit – it changes shape.

I am currently prodding an idea for my sixth psychological thriller (to be published in March 2019). The initial spark was an eight word sentence in an email of three or four different premises I ran by my agent. Maddy liked it. More than that she got excited by it, so did my editor, but it wasn’t really an idea. It was a setting. Over the last month or so I have been mulling it over in my head. I’ve got the setting but what’s the plot? Who are the characters? What’s the twist?

I’ve swung, pendulum-like, between different possibilities – some clichés, some tired, some ridiculously OTT. I’ve felt lost, panicked and frustrated. What is this book? What is it that I am trying to say?

In a recent newsletter to members of the C.L. Taylor Book Club I admitted that an author often doesn’t know what inspired a novel until years after it’s published. Hindsight allows you to draw parallels between your novels and your life – parallels you couldn’t see at the time because you were too enmeshed in the day to day.

That doesn’t help me now as I try to pull together the threads of a story to create something that will hopefully be gripping, addictive, unpredictable and original with characters that are fascinating, flawed and three dimensional. I don’t mind admitting that I’ve been struggling. Each time I prod this idea it changes into a new shape or else shoots across the room and completely evades me. But I love this stage of the process. It might be frustrating and terrifying but when all the pieces start to fall into place (to continue the analogy – the plasticine begins to take form rather than looking like an amorphous blob) there’s no feeling quite as thrilling.

And I might just have a had a little break through yesterday…

(Thank God)

Before I go – if you haven’t read THE TREATMENT or THE ESCAPE they are currently just 99p across all ebook platforms. But not for long.

Also, THE FEAR has had some amazing reviews from my fellow authors. Check them out here.

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Introducing… The Fear.

Last week I shared the cover for my next psychological thriller on social media but, if you missed it, here it is!

The Fear with Karin quote

THE FEAR is a book I’ve wanted to write for a while. I had the first inkling of the idea after I finished THE LIE but it wasn’t fully formed so I tucked it away in my brain and wrote THE MISSING instead, then THE ESCAPE.

Earlier this year, after I finished writing my YA thriller THE TREATMENT, I had roughly six weeks before I had to start writing again. Normally I need about three months to research an idea and plot and outline it but I didn’t panic. I’d had the basic idea for THE FEAR swirling around my brain for a while. Six weeks was plenty of time. Wasn’t it?

Turns out it wasn’t.

I spent most of the six weeks scribbling in my notebook, trying to pull the different threads of the idea together but the more I pulled the more unwieldy the story became. There was an element to the story I desperately wanted to keep – about the power play between prisoner and captor – but the back story was all wrong. And then it came to me – my main character wouldn’t be confronting the man who was responsible for her sister’s disappearance eighteen years earlier. She would be confronting the man who groomed and seduced her as a teenager and convinced her to run away to France with him. The idea immediately appealed. It was so much more personal, more powerful and – importantly to me – unusual. I ditched the sister angle and started plotting the new back story but ran out of time before I could write an outline. When I started writing all I had to guide me were two pages of bullet points and four semi-formed characters.

For someone who wrote a 12,000 word outline before drafting THE ESCAPE and a 5,000 word outline before drafting THE MISSING it was a scary experience. It took me three attempts (and 6,000 deleted words) to get the first couple of chapters right but then it began to fall into place and the characters came alive.

THE FEAR is the first of my books that doesn’t have one of my fears at its heart and writing it was a challenge but, by not plotting it to the nth degree before I started, there were so many wonderful surprises and twists along the way (not least Wendy who is definitely one of my favourite ever characters). Publication day is 22nd March and I can’t wait.

Here’s the blurb…

Sometimes your first love won’t let you go…

Lou Wandsworth is used to being headline news as, aged fourteen, she ran away to France with her 31-year-old teacher, Mike Hughes.

Now 32, Lou’s life is in tatters – and she resolves to return home to confront Mike for the damage he has caused. But she soon finds that Mike is unchanged, and is focussing his attention on 13-year-old Chloe Meadows.

Determined to make sure that history doesn’t repeat itself, Lou decides to take matters into her own hands. But Mike is a predator of the worst kind, and as she tries to bring him to justice, it’s clear that Lou could once again become his prey…

The million copy Sunday Times bestseller returns with a taut, compelling psychological thriller that will have you glued to the edge of your seat.

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Why I decided to write a YA novel


A week tomorrow my first young adult novel  THE TREATMENT will be published. It’s a thriller, about sixteen year old Drew Finch who tries to rescue her brother Mason from a residential reform academy after a stranger gives her a note saying that the students are being brainwashed.

The first inkling of the idea came to me in 2011, when I was pregnant with my son. I wrote 20,000 words of what I thought was a middle grade idea about a bunch of kids who develop super powers after a trip to the Hadron Collider goes horribly wrong. The government gather them up and do experiments on them and yes…I know, it’s basically the plot of X Men. What can I say, pregnancy hormones do weird things to your brain. Anyway, I ditched the words I’d written and wrote The Accident instead but something about the idea continued to nag at me. I still wanted to write about kids who were locked up and had to try and escape but I had to ditch the superpower element and come up with something more realistic.

Over the last couple of years the idea for The Treatment gradually came together. I wanted there to be a Prison Break element and there had to be some kind of ticking clock – a reason to hasten the escape. How about something along the lines of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – a treatment that would forever change the inmates? But why?

Writers work in isolation but we can’t block out the outside world and, as I was mulling over ideas, I became increasingly worried about how right wing the UK was becoming. I became genuinely concerned that UKIP could end up running the county. And what then? Tighter immigration control, banning the Burka, a ‘social attitudes’ test? Those were the policies UKIP were admitting to but what, I wondered, might happen if an even more right wing party got into government? A reintroduction of national service, the death penalty, a police state?

I began researching social compliance and control and my research lead me to a website on the brainwashing and mind control carried out by the Chinese on American prisoners of war during the Korean War. Those kind of practices are outlawed now but what if a right wing government secretly used them to ensure that wayward teenagers were no longer a drain on society’s resources? And that’s when the final part of the puzzle fell into place.

Don’t get me wrong, The Treatment isn’t a political book by any means. It’s an out and out thriller about one girl’s attempt to rescue her brother from ‘prison’ but I wanted the ‘bad guys’ to be people who could exist. If not now then in the near future.

It’s a book I felt I HAD to write, regardless of whether it got a deal and, as I wrote it I fell in love with the characters – Drew, Mason, Mouse, Israel and the rest. I put a lot of myself into Drew. I drew on my own memories of being sixteen – of wanting to be in control of my own life, of questioning authority and feeling like an outsider. I remembered how it felt to be bullied, to be lonely and to be scared and then I made Drew a whole lot cleverer and braver than me.

There’s no romance in THE TREATMENT, no love triangle and no hero that swings in to save the day. The hero of my book is a sixteen year old girl. And I loved writing her. Why did I write a YA novel? I couldn’t not.


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A ‘Dead Good’ summer

I can’t believe it’s been nearly two months since I last posted on here. In some ways time has flown but I seem to have fitted quite a lot into the last sixty-odd days so here’s a (probably not very quick) round up.

First off was the HarperCollins author party in the V&A. It’s always a treat and this year was no exception. Here’s me and CJ Daugherty in the garden.


At the end of July I headed north to the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Festival in Harrogate. The weather wasn’t quite as glorious as it normally is but this year was my favourite Harrogate ever because…I won an award! The Escape won the Dead Good Books Hidden Depths award for Most Unreliable Narrator.

With my agent Madeleine Milburn.

My books were shortlisted for Dead Good books awards in 2016 and 2015 and didn’t win and no one could have been more shocked than me when my name was read out this year. I’m surprised my gasp wasn’t heard for miles. Somehow I managed to give a speech but, by the time I had my photo taken outside my legs, were shaking and I may have had a little (happy) sob on my agent’s shoulder when she gave me a hug afterwards.

My legs were wobbling in this shot!

The Dead Good book awards are voted for  by readers and I couldn’t be more grateful to everyone who voted for me. A dream came true that day and, to say thank you, I’m doing a big giveaway on my Facebook page and a separate one for members of the C.L. Taylor Book Club. More details later on in this post.

I told one of my writer friends, Marnie Riches, that if I won the champagne was on me and, as I was queuing at the bar, I turned round and spotted a familiar face. I’m not normally the sort of person to talk to a celeb but I’d had a couple of glasses of Prosecco by this point and, before I could stop myself, ‘Are you Jeremy Vine?’ popped out of my mouth. When he said that yes, he was, I gushed about how much I enjoyed his Radio 2 programme.

Me (slightly drunk) with Jeremy Vine.

We got chatting and he asked if I’d mind doing a live Facebook video for his page (you can see it here). The next day he sent me a tweet showing me that he’d bought a copy of The Escape and he even gave me a quote after he finished it, saying he hadn’t read a book as gripping since Gone Girl.  Such a nice man!

A couple of days after I got back from Harrogate I was off again – this time to London for YALC (the Young Adult Literary Convention) at Olympia. HarperCollins HQ had arranged a proof signing event for me and I turned up expecting to sign a handful of copies of The Treatment. Instead I arrived at the stall to find a queue of eighty YA readers patiently waiting for me to sign their copies. It was surreal. I’ve never signed so many books in my life and I’m sure I won’t again. It was a wonderful convention, full of excitement and enthusiasm for books and stories and several readers I spoke to were dragging suitcases full of books they’d bought or brought along for authors to sign.

After all that excitement it was time for me put my head down and finish my fifth psychological thriller for adults. We’d booked our family holiday (a week in Cornwall) for 12th August and I gave myself a deadline of 11th August so I wouldn’t have to write while we were away. Because I finished the YA novel in February and did a lot of events in March and April to promote The Escape I didn’t actually start writing the new book until May. I was about 70,000 words into the first draft by the end of July giving me 11 days to write another 20,000 odd words and finish the book. Knowing I’d have to write flat out I temporarily abandoned my family and booked myself into Retreats for You in Devon for five days.


My room at Retreats for You, Devon

I had a wonderful stay, hugely productive and, by the time I left, the word count was up to 85,000 words. I delivered the finished 91,000 word draft to my editor on 11th August with just enough time left to pack before our holiday.

My edits are due back next week so, this week, I’ll mostly be tidying my study (it’s a tip!), decluttering the house and prepping for some masterclasses I’m running later this year. On 8th September I’m delivering a crime writing masterclass at Bloody Scotland, Stirling with Sophie Hannah and Doug Johnstone. Tickets are available here. Then, on 2nd December I’ll be in Plymouth talking about establishing plot and pace for the Writers & Artists ‘How to Get Published’ conference. You can find out more here. I will also be appearing on a panel with Clare Mackintosh and Sarah Pinborough at Bloody Scotland, appearing on a panel at the Killer Women festival in October and reading in the ‘caves’ for the Bristol Festival of Literature. More details on my events page.

This morning the postman brought me a big box full of copies of my YA novel THE TREATMENT. They’re gorgeous. Not long now until publication day – 19th October.  It’s strange, having two books published in one year but I’m really excited about this book. I put a lot of my teenaged self into the main character, Drew – particularly issues I had with authority and the feeling that I didn’t have any control of my life. Drew is a lot braver than I was though! I’ll write a blog post talking some more about what inspired THE TREATMENT as it gets closer to publication date.

Quick aside – if you haven’t read THE ESCAPE (my fourth adult psychological thriller) yet you’ve got until the end of August to get the ebook for 99p and the paperback for £2. The prices go up again on 1st September.

And now for details of my giveaways…

Over on my Facebook page I’m giving away NINETEEN prizes including three signed copies of The TREATMENT, three signed copies of Dead Simple, bookmarks, pendants and some very cool custom printed flash drives. They’re pens but also 8GB USB sticks with ‘C.L. Taylor – gripping psychological thrillers’ printed on the side. You’ve got until one minute to midnight on 3rd September to enter that giveaway.


I’ll also be running another ‘thank you’ giveaway for members of the C.L. Taylor Book Club where I’ll be giving away my CrimeFest and Harrogate goody bags, signed copies of THE TREATMENT and Dead Simple and some more pens/USB sticks. Sign up now if you don’t want to miss out. It’s free, you can unsubscribe at any time and you’ll receive my 9,000 word story THE LODGER as a thank you just for signing up.







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Cover reveal for my first young adult thriller…

I posted this on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram yesterday but, just in case anyone missed it, here it is – a proof of THE TREATMENT, my first young adult psychological thriller. Published by HarperCollins HQ on 19th October.

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Bristol, Brighton, Books and…Bruce Dickinson

Since THE ESCAPE was published back in March I’ve done a huge number of events – literary festivals, radio interviews, workshops, literary game shows and even my first TV appearance! Here are a few highlights…


Aye Write, Glasgow: In conversation with author Michael J Malone. Michael is an excellent interviewer and he asked me questions I’d never been asked before – like whether my childhood (spent in army camps) had had an impact on the way I see the world/write.


HarperCollins, London: How to Write a Thriller, a masterclass with author Paul Finch and our editor Helen Huthwaite. We also recorded a separate video for the HarperCollins Facebook page where we shared our top tips for writing a thriller. You can watch that here.


Write By the Beach, Brighton: Giving the keynote address on Sunday morning. I shared the ups and downs of my career and encouraged the attendees to bounce back from criticism and rejection because something amazing could be just around the corner.


HarperCollins Book Buyer event, London: Before I spoke to various retailers I totally fangirled over Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson. A wonderful man and an amazing musician and I can’t wait to read his autobiography. I won all the girlfriend points when I got him to sign a CD for my partner who has been an Iron Maiden fan since he was eleven!


Newcastle Noir, Newcastle: I was so thrilled to be asked to take part in the Domestic Noir panel with Louise Beech and Michael J Malone. Newcastle Noir is a small festival but it’s so warm and friendly and I had a wonderful time. I also took the chance to walk around Newcastle and see how much it had changed since I was last there 20-odd years ago. Dr Mark Moss, who did a degree with me and is now the Head of Psychology at the University of Northumbria, showed me around the university. It has changed so much I barely recognised it.


Crimefest, Bristol: It’s right on my doorstep but this year was my first CrimeFest panel. I chatted about the role of friends and family in crime fiction with Louise Beech, Thomas Enger and Gunnar Staalesen (chaired by Lucy V Hay). I also went to karaoke with a bunch of other crime writers after dinner one night but the least said about that the better!


Blackwells, Oxford: My first literary panel show! Recorded in front of a live audience, Sarah Churchwell, Danny King, Rob Duncan and I had to provide the first and last lines to various books and try and bluff our fellow contestants. I came fourth in the first round (the shame!) but won the second round (let’s just say I do a very convincing impersonation of David Icke!)

The podcast of our game will be available on the Ex Libris website at some point (it will be dated 30th May 2017)


Made in Bristol TV, Bristol: Bristol has its own TV channel and I was thrilled to be invited onto ‘The Crunch’ to talk about my books. I have never been more nervous IN MY LIFE and it was a bit of a weird one as my interview was interrupted by live news reports about anti Theresa May demonstrations in Brislington but I survived it! You can watch a snippet on my interview on my Facebook page.

Looking back I probably did too much (I feel like I’ve barely spent a weekend at home over the last few months) and I’ve spent the last six weeks suffering with a chest infection. After two courses of antibiotics and a course of oral steroids I finally feeling halfway human again and a break from back-to-back events means I’m also making good progress with the newest novel – 21,000 words into the first draft and a deadline of 12th August.

I’ll be taking the second half of August off then, in September, I’ll be jetting up to Stirling to teach a ‘how to write a thriller’ masterclass on Friday 8th September and on 9th I’m on a panel with Clare Mackintosh and Sarah Pinborough.

In October I’ll be appearing at the Bristol Festival of Literature and the Killer Women festival in London (details TBA). Then, at some point, I need to start thinking about writing my second YA thriller.


Talking of which the first one, THE TREATMENT, has been edited, copy edited and proofed and I’ve seen the stunning jacket. We’ll be revealing it to the world at the YALC conference in Olympia at the end of July where I’ll be signing proofs and chatting to bloggers and readers. It’ll be published by HarperCollins HQ on 19th October and is available to pre-order now!

On 7th November my US publisher will be publishing The Missing. Isn’t the cover gorgeous? You can pre-order it here. 


My last bit of news is that THE ESCAPE has been shortlisted for two Dead Good Books awards – Most Unreliable Narrator and Most Recommended Read.

If you have enjoyed THE ESCAPE please vote. It shouldn’t take more than a minute and I’d be incredibly grateful!

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