It really is an honour to have a Sunday Times Bestselling author visit Kendall Reviews. C. J.Tudor’s debut novel, The Chalk Man, is set to be THE book of the 2018. It’s been sold in 39 territories with major film talks in progress, The Chalk Man is a breath of fresh air, rivalling mega-sellers such as Gone Girl and Girl on the Train. Think Stephen King meets Stranger Things – books this grippingly cinematic, special and spine-tinglingly creepy only come along once in a few years.
Looking back, it all started on the day of the fair and the terrible accident.
When twelve-year old Eddie first met the Chalk Man.
It was the Chalk Man who gave Eddie the idea for the drawings: a way to leave secret messages between his group of friends.
And it was fun, to start with, until the figures led them to the body of a young girl.
That was thirty years ago and Ed thought the past was behind him.
Then he receives a letter containing just two things: a piece of chalk, and a drawing of a stick figure.
As history begins to repeat itself, Ed realises the game was never over…
Everyone has secrets.
Everyone is guilty of something.
And children are not always so innocent.
As you read this I have just finished The Chalk Man. You are going to struggle to put this book down, believe me! I kept saying I’ll read to the end of a chapter, only for Caz (C. J. Tudor) to drop a line that forces you onto the next and so it goes on. Skillfully done, wonderfully well written and plotted to perfection. I only put the book down to type this interview up, it’s a book that demands to be read.
Prior to my review (which I hope to be in the next week), I must say one thing about The Chalk Man. The novels Prologue is an absolute stunner! If you read that and don’t find yourself instantly hooked, with a sense of nervous apprehension about what you’re about to read then I don’t know what will. Bravo Caz, it’s bloody brilliant!
Anyway, the kettle has boiled, the chocolate digestives have been taken from their hiding place, (I’m doing it for my kids health…honest!). Please sit down, relax and enjoy my chat with the fantastic C. J. Tudor.
KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?
I’m 46. I live in Nottingham with my partner and little girl. I wear too much black and use too much bleach. I love dogs, rock music, tattoos, wine and rhubarb gin. I hate high heels. I collect skulls – not real ones, sadly!
KR: What do you like to do when not writing?
I’m sorry – I don’t understand the question!
On the rare occasions I’m not writing I like to read, watch DVDs, spend time with my partner and little girl. Boring, lovely things.
KR: What is your favourite childhood book?
The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark. (KR: Written by Jill Tomlinson)
KR: What are you reading now?
The Colour of Bee Markham’s Murder by Sarah J. Harris.
KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?
The Killers – Hot Fuss, Nirvana – Nevermind, Frank Black – Teenager of the Year.
I never listen to music when I write as I find it too distracting. I like to sing along in the car.
KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?
Agatha Christie, Stephen King, Michael Marshall.
KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
Definitely the latter. It keeps it interesting. I’ve never been one of life’s planners.
KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I don’t. To be fair, I don’t write detailed, crime procedural type books. Much of what I write, I have personal knowledge of. But anything I do need to fact check I usually do once I’ve got the bones of the book down. Then, I tweak as necessary.
KR: Describe your usual writing day?
Nowadays, I’m lucky enough to write full-time. So, I usually take my little girl to school then go and sit in a coffee shop with my laptop for a few hours. By that point my bum is numb so I’ll go for a walk or to the gym. Then, I fetch my little girl from school and chaos descends until her bedtime. I might get a quick hour of writing in after she’s gone to bed, along with a nice glass of wine or a G&T.
KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?
I wrote one recently called The Lion at the Gate, inspired by this weird bit of graffiti I kept seeing on my way into town. It was a huge, multi-coloured lion’s face on the gate of an old house. Something about it was quite sinister and the really spooky thing was, every time I saw it, it looked a little different . . .
KR: Do you read your book reviews?
I did at the start but then, once you get a certain number, you’re bound to get a more mixed bag. There will always be some people who don’t like your writing. That’s life. The best thing is to take all reviews with a pinch of salt – the good, the bad and the ugly.
KR: Any advice for a fledgling author?
Don’t expect too much too soon. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Never give up. Never try to write what you think people want. Write because you love it not because you want to be published. You don’t need contacts or expensive courses. The slush pile works. It’s never too late.
KR: What scares you?
Heights, rollercoasters, the dark, dolls, zombies, stupid people.
KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?
Hardback, paperback, e-book, in order of preference.
KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?
The Chalk Man is a dark, coming-of-age murder mystery. It’s set in 2016 and 1986 – that’s when we meet twelve-year-old Eddie and his friends. They invent a game: drawing chalk figures on the ground to pass secret messages. But the game turns sinister when the figures start to appear on their own and lead them to the body of a girl.
Thirty years later, Ed thinks the past is behind him Then he receives a letter containing just two things – a drawing of a stick figure and a piece of chalk . . .
KR: What are you working on now?
Book 3 – which I can’t say anything about yet! I’ve just finished Book 2 which is another creepy tale, this time set in an isolated, former mining village in Nottinghamshire. There are deaths, dark, secrets, strange goings-on and plenty of twists.
KR: Fast forward ten years! Where do you see yourself?
I try not to think too far ahead. Ten years ago, I would never have imagined I’d have a daughter or a top ten bestseller! Life is unpredictable. Planning is just an invitation for fate to screw with you. Enjoy today. Be kind. Pour a nice G&T.
KR: Thank you very much Caz for talking to me today.
My review for The Chalk Man will be on the blog very soon
Praise for The Chalk Man…
“Tense, skilful storytelling”
– Ali Land, bestselling author of Good Me, Bad Me
“What a great book. A twisty thriller and downright creepy ending. 5 stars.”
-Sarah Pinborough, the number 1 bestselling author of Behind Her Eyes.
“Kept me up till five in the morning. Wonderfully written. I loved it!”
-Kimberley Chambers, number 1 bestselling author of Backstabber.
C. J. Tudor was born in Salisbury and grew up in Nottingham, where she still lives with her partner and young daughter. Her love of writing, especially the dark and macabre, started young. When her peers were reading Judy Blume, she was devouring Stephen King and James Herbert.
Over the years she has had a variety of jobs, including trainee reporter, waitress, radio scriptwriter, shop assistant, voiceover artist, television presenter, copywriter and now author. The Chalk Man is her first novel.
You can also find The Chalk Man in many other retailers.