Today I’m thrilled to be hosting The Perfect Neighbours by Rachel Sargeant blog tour. The Perfect Neighbours is a gripping psychological thriller that was published on the 15th of December by Harper CollinsKiller Reads, so just one “click” and it’s yours. I do have a review for The Perfect Neighbours which you can read further down this post.
To celebrate my stop on the blog tour Rachel Sargeant has written A day in the life of author…… post especially for the book review café, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as did.
First of all I’d like to thank Lorraine for hosting my blog tour today. I’m so grateful for her interest in my new book The Perfect Neighbours and for letting it appear here.
My writing day begins at about 4pm after I’ve finished my day job. (I’m a school librarian.) After work I go for a swim. Although I walk the length and breadth of the school most days, my job is still fairly sedentary so it’s good to get in a hundred lengths at least three times a week. That isn’t as impressive as it sounds; it’s a small pool. I wrote my love of swimming into The Perfect Neighbours by making it my character Helen’s favourite hobby.
Once I get home, I check social media to see whether authors I know have a new book out. Some I buy for my Kindle or order from the local library, and others – the ones I think I’ll want to keep – I buy from the town bookshop. I post reviews of books I’ve enjoyed on my blog and on the main social media sites. I keep telling myself that I should put down a couple of hours writing before I hit the book blogs but it’s like an itch; if I don’t scratch it I can’t settle to work.
An hour later I get down to business and commence editing a chapter of my current draft. If I’m editing on screen, I’ll be upstairs in the study, listening to the Ken Bruce show on iPlayer. If I’m editing a printout, it’s Smooth Radio in the lounge. I edit far more on the screen than I used to but find I still need to see the words on a piece of paper to capture all the changes.
For most of the year I’m editing and barely write anything new. What works for me is to use the long school holidays for writing the first draft. The Perfect Neighbours started life as one of my summer projects even though a large part of the novel takes place in winter. For years, I had no idea what my daily word count was, just that I ended up with between sixty and eighty thousand words by September. This year I recorded my hours and word count in a lovely diary, a gift from my agent, Marilia Savvides at Peters, Fraser and Dunlop. It turns out I produce an average of two thousand words a day, five days a week, and this can take me anywhere from five to eight hours a day. But I only keep this up for a maximum of eight weeks.
After dinner I may have some drafts from my writing buddies to read. I met some wonderful writers on my MA course and we continue to provide feedback on each other’s work. The Perfect Neighbours is dedicated to them for their endless encouragement and astute advice on many, many redrafts.
If there’s a decent crime drama on, I’ll round off the evening with an hour’s telly. I’m fond of re-runs of the very early Taggart. Writer Glen Chandler plotted the episodes brilliantly. Even though I go to bed far too late, I still read for at least half an hour. No day can end without a decent book.
About the book
Published: 15th December 2017 (HarperCollins Killer Reads)
‘Builds from a creeping sense of unease to a jaw-dropping climax and a denouement I defy anyone to see coming.’ Chris Curran, author of Her Deadly Secret
The perfect neighbours tell the perfect lies… When Helen moves to Germany with her loving husband Gary, she can’t wait to join the expat community of teachers from the local International School. But her new start is about to become her worst nightmare.
Behind the shutters lies a devastating secret… As soon as the charming family across the way welcome Helen into their home, she begins to suspect that all is not as it seems. Then Gary starts to behave strangely and a child goes missing, vanished without a trace.
When violence and tragedy strike, cracks appear in the neighbourhood, and Helen realises her perfect neighbours are capable of almost anything.
There seems to be an influx of psychological thrillers that have the theme of neighbours at its core, and if I’m honest I’ve read a fair few that I have found a mediocre read so I did approach The Perfect Neighbours with some trepidation. From the off this book felt very claustrophobic, it’s bad enough having one difficult neighbour, but imagine have a street full of them! Within hours of moving into her new home, a street that houses fellow expat teachers from the local International School Helen soon realises her neighbours may appear “perfect” but something isn’t quite right.
As the reader is introduced to the assortment of neighbours I couldn’t help but feel disconcerted, in my opinion when people appear “too good to be true” they usually are. When I first began reading this book I immediately thought of The Stepford Wives as the woman of the neighbourhood play the part of the perfect housewife, doting on their far too perfect partners, it felt creepy and contrived. There are an array of characters in this book and it did take me a while to get a grips with them all and their back story’s. I must admit on the whole I found it difficult to relate to any of the characters, in fact they are the sort of neighbours I would definitely avoid at all costs, their arrogant, and controlling but there’s was a small part of me that was deeply intrigued by this bunch of misfits.
From the opening chapter the reader knows something bad has happened to Helen, but as to the why Rachel Sargeant entices the reader by slowly and deftly scratching away at the surface until the neighbours dark and deadly secrets are revealed in all there ugly glory. At times I would say the plot seemed a little far fetched but I’m of the opinion if you pick up a fiction book then it’s possible a books going to push the boundaries, and that’s fine with me as long as there are credible elements within the read. All in all I enjoyed The Perfect Neighbours and I would recommend it to those looking for a psychological thriller that’s very much character driven
About the author
Rachel Sargeant grew up in Lincolnshire. She is a previous winner of Writing Magazine’s Crime Short Story competition and has been placed or shortlisted in various competitions, including the Bristol Short Story Prize. Her stories have appeared in My Weekly and the Accent Press Saucy Shorts series. Rachel has a degree in German and Librarianship from Aberystwyth University and a Masters in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. She spent several years living in Germany where she taught English and she now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband and children. To learn more about the author and her writing, please visit her website: www.rachelsargeant.co.ukhttps://twitter.com/RachelSargeant3https://www.facebook.com/rachelsargeantauthor/