Thriller author Karen Hamilton is back with a brand new, juicy tale of revenge, murder, and secrets in the glittering Caribbean with The Ex-Husband! We follow Charlotte, a former con artist who’s trying her best to be good, but she just can’t seem to escape the past. When she accepts a new job aboard a yacht in the Caribbean, thinking she’ll be distancing herself, the past finds its way back to her more than ever. With a narrative that switches between past and present, unraveling this mystery is so much fun. You can read our review here!
We had the chance to chat with Karen about her writing process, how The Ex-Husband came to be, and what’s coming next!
Hi! Welcome to The Honey POP! First of all, could you introduce yourself and your work to our readers?
Hi, thanks so much for inviting me! My name is Karen Hamilton, and I’m the author of three thrillers: The Perfect Girlfriend, The Last Wife, and The Ex-Husband, in that order.
Where did you begin as a writer? Have you always wanted to write fiction?
I always wanted to be a writer, however, I didn’t start taking writing seriously until after the birth of my second child. I realized that if I didn’t follow my dream, it might never happen. It took nearly ten years to get published.
What draws you to writing thrillers?
The first book I wrote was more of a romantic comedy. However, I’ve always read a lot of crime, and I naturally found that the more I wrote, the more my writing naturally became darker.
Let’s talk about The Ex-Husband! When you start a new project, what comes first, the plot or the character?
Usually, the character. I had an idea for someone who was trying to move on from their past but was struggling. I loved the idea of researching con artists and found it to be a fascinating world.
How did you build Charlotte’s character? Did you intend for her to be somewhat unreliable/suspicious as a narrator, given her past with Sam?
Charlotte was great fun to write as she struggles to stay on the straight and narrow. She wants to be ‘good,’ she wants to reform, but she is still drawn to the finer things in life.
Setting played such a huge role in this story! What made you want to set the story largely in the Caribbean/aboard a boat?
The Ex-Husband was my lockdown book, so I dreamed of escape. When I’d worked as long haul cabin crew, I’d been lucky enough to travel to Barbados. This meant I was able to write some scenes from memory as well as using YouTube, interviewing travel experts, and reading guide books. Originally, I was going to set the entire book on a cruise ship (I went on a mini cruise in 2019 from England to Antwerp), however, because of the pandemic, I decided to set the cruise in the past and the present on a superyacht. This was also great fun to research!
What would you say your style is when it comes to writing? i.e., are you a plotter, a pantser, or in-between? Do you have a specific routine?
I’m definitely a pantser. Every book, I try to turn myself into a plotter, and I do have an idea of the ending I’m working towards, but a lot of the ideas come to me in the actual writing.
What advice would you give to writers who want to delve into the world of thrillers?
To read in the genre and to experiment with your writing. I went on a writing course at the Faber Academy in 2013. On our first night, our tutor suggested we experiment, so I did. I changed the opening of what would become my first book, The Perfect Girlfriend, from third to first person. Fellow writers really encouraged me and told me that for them, the character of Juliette came alive in the first person.
What are some books that have inspired you to become an author?
Oooh, loads! Probably the first was by Agatha Christie; I particularly loved Death in the Clouds and Death on the Nile. I also love books by Sophie Hannah, Ruth Ware, Patricia Highsmith, Dorothy Koomson, Peter Swanson, Samantha Downing, Hannah Mary McKinnon, [and] Alice Feeney, to name just a few.
Here at THP, we love music, so did you have a playlist you listened to while writing The Ex-Husband? What would the theme song be?
I didn’t have a particular playlist as I love listening to the radio while writing, but I do seem to remember hearing ‘Blinding Lights’ by The Weeknd and ‘Bad Habits’ by Ed Sheeran.
Lastly, is there anything you can tell us about what you’re working on next, or anything The Ex-Husband-related that’s upcoming?
My fourth book is another thriller, this time-based in Kenya and Tanzania. Two work teams for a luxury travel firm compete for a lucrative prize and it soon becomes clear that someone, on one of the teams, is prepared to kill to win.
The Ex-Husband by Karen Hamilton is out now and available to order here!
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