Black Valley

January 29, 2014

llanthony prioryMeanwhile, I’ve just delivered the next novel in the series.  It’s entitled Black Valley, and will be published in August. It’s also set in Wales, this time in Monmouthshire, and concerns the theft of a painting and ensuing skulduggery.My research involved taking a look at the world of contemporary art, so I visited a few exhibitons and galleries  in the UK and Europe, and read some guides to the scene, including Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton, and The Twelve Million Dollar Stuffed Shark by Don Thompson. Thornton’s book paints a vivid portrait of who’s who in the art world, and how it functions; Thompson’s explores the crazed economics of it all, and is equally fascinating.

My novel concerns identity.  It centres around an artist who adopts a persona that will intrigue the art world, becoming entangled in a web of crime in the process;  and a protagonist (Jessica Mayhew, my shrink detective) who is newly single and whose curiosity – as ever – leads her into danger. It’s mostly set in Wales, with much of the action taking place around the atmospheric Llantony Priory in Monmouthshire, near where artist Eric Gill once set up his infamous commune. Domestic drama, gothic elements, scary action scenes, and  psychotherapeutic musings (this time about the psychology of twins), very much as in the last book…

charlotte-williams-the-house-on-the-cliffThe US edition of my novel has been published by HarperCollins. It’s had a good reception there.  Here’s a review: ‘ This solid domestic suspense debut, nicely seasoned with gothic elements, should please Gone Girl fans and those who crave a real page-turner. Williams’s 40-something psychotherapist makes a particularly vulnerable protagonist. While Jessica might be the worst therapist ever at keeping her personal agenda out of the session, readers will admire how Williams has created such believable characters and how she weaves effectively psychological theories throughout.’ (Library Journal).

Actually, I had to alter the narrative of the book slightly to meet the demands of the American market. The American term for crime novel or thriller, as far as I can gather, is ‘mystery’. And the American reader likes a mystery to be a proper mystery i.e. the reveal must come out of the blue. So for this edition, I had to make the ending more of a complete surprise, and add a few more red herrings. Possibly an improvement, possibly not, depending on how mysterious you like your mysteries to be.