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Saturday 14 November 2015

ℚ The Child Garden - Catriona McPherson

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author  to talk about The Child Garden (, Midnight Ink, 312 pages) a Psychological Suspense novel.

A terrific stand-alone that is complex, haunting, and magical.”—LIBRARY JOURNAL (STARRED REVIEW)

A stunning combination of creepy thriller and classic mystery.”—KIRKUS REVIEWS (STARRED REVIEW)

One surprising plot twist after another leads to a shocking ending.”—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Synopsis | Teaser | Author Q&A | About the Author | Cold-Blooded: Killer Nashville Noir [1] | Giveaway & Tour Stops

A big welcome to Catriona McPherson, thank you for joining us on BooksChatter.

What was the inspiration for The Child Garden?

"Well, homesickness is in there. The house where Gloria lives in THE CHILD GARDEN was my house.  A big old stone farmhouse with a grey slate roof, an enormous but cosy kitchen with a range and a sofa long enough to stretch out on, five freezing cold bedrooms with rattly windows and one bathroom, miles from the bedrooms, where the window didn't close at all, so sometimes the snow blew in.  I loved it.  I lived there for ten happy years before I left Galloway for the USA, where I live in The Ugliest House in California.  And that's a deep bench.  The nineteen seventies didn't add much to the architecture of the west.

Thankfully, none of the story is anything like my life. "
I love the look of that house!  Incidentally, I don't think the 1970s did much for architecture anywhere :-)

How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?

"Gloria Harkness shares some of my reading tastes - Stephen King and Jane Austen - but she's more of a Robert Louis Stevenson fan than me.  And she can't cook for buttons, whereas I love cooking.  She's had a harder life than me and while on the surface it's knocked her a bit, when she gets the bit between her teeth I think she's braver than I would be.  I think I write heroines I would want to be friends with. I'd love to have Stig and Glo as pals."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover.  Can you tell us about your cover for The Child Garden - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"I'm very lucky with my Midnight Ink covers.  Terri Bischoff (the editor) and I chew it over and send photos and bad sharpie sketches back and forth and then Kevin Brown makes them beautiful.  This cover was the end result of us looking at every picture of broken-down bridges on the internet until we found the right one.  I think the combination of the sweet, innocent title and that image is really creepy "

North-West Passage

1. Good-Night

When the bright lamp is carried in,
The sunless hours again begin;
O'er all without, in field and lane,
The haunted night returns again.
Now we behold the embers flee
About the firelit hearth; and see
Our faces painted as we pass,
Like pictures, on the window glass.
Must we to bed indeed? Well then,
Let us arise and go like men,
And face with an undaunted tread
The long black passage up to bed.
Farewell, O brother, sister, sire!
O pleasant party round the fire!
The songs you sing, the tales you tell,
Till far to-morrow, fare you well!

2. Shadow March

All around the house is the jet-black night;
    It stares through the window-pane;
It crawls in the corners, hiding from the light,
    And it moves with the moving flame.
Now my little heart goes a beating like a drum,
    With the breath of the Bogies in my hair;
And all around the candle the crooked shadows come,
    And go marching along up the stair.
The shadow of the balusters, the shadow of the lamp,
    The shadow of the child that goes to bed—
All the wicked shadows coming tramp, tramp, tramp,
    With the black night overhead.

3. In Port

Last, to the chamber where I lie
My fearful footsteps patter nigh,
And come out from the cold and gloom
Into my warm and cheerful room.
There, safe arrived, we turn about
To keep the coming shadows out,
And close the happy door at last
On all the perils that we past.
Then, when mamma goes by to bed,
She shall come in with tip-toe tread,
And see me lying warm and fast
And in the land of Nod at last.
And about the title?
"There's a volume of poetry called A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES by Robert Louis Stevenson.  It's for kids but it always terrified me.  A fair few of the poems are about RLS being ill and scared alone in bed.  I was too imaginative a wee girl to read them and some of them still give me the shivers.  Google "North-west Passage". Go on, I dare you."
I have added that passage here, so we can all have a look at it ;-)

Why should we read The Child Garden and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your book unique?

"As far as I know no one else here writes . . . what are we calling it?  Psychological suspense, domestic noir, these books . . . set in Scotland with the long history of Scottish supernatural beliefs as a subtext.  It's a strange place; there's an established state church, very strait-laced, but it rubs along with a shedload of pagan stuff that still touches people's lives.  I've got a better perspective of it from California, I think.  Sometimes I describe something that seems perfectly normal and only realise how weird it is when I see people's faces change.  First footing at New year, is one pretty benign example.  Also, there are laughs in my books.  Ideally I'd like to make someone laugh, shudder and cry on the same page."
Can you tell us something quirky about The Child Garden, its story and characters?
"I'm really glad you asked this. Gloria was called Tash - short for Natasha - at first.  I wrote a few chapters and it felt pretty dead.  Then I woke up one morning with the knowledge that her name was Gloria.  She quickly got twenty years older and looked entirely different.  Then the book started to flow."
Who would you recommend The Child Garden to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"Hmmmmm.  If you like Ann Cleeves, Denise Mina, Alex Marwood, and Elizabeth Haynes you might like THE CHILD GARDEN.  If you really don't like foul language, you might not.  Stig swears like a navvy, but Gloria hates it too.  Also, fictional people are harmed."
If you could / wished to turn The Child Garden into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"What a great question!  The location is Galloway.  Dream director - Tom McCarthy (THE STATION AGENT).  Gloria? Ashley Jensen.  Stig? Robert Florence.  Oh, I'm going to daydream about this for the rest of the day now. (Thankfully it's 5.20pm on Friday afternoon and I've finished writing)."
What do you like to write and read about?  Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"I also write what probably looks much the same from outside - crime fiction set in Scotland - but inside the crime fiction community 1920s cozy mysteries and contemporary psychological suspense are pretty far apart.  And yes, I love to read these genres, but also all procedurals (love Val McDermid), legal thrillers (love Lisa Scottoline), and oh! Joyce Carol Oates and Daniel Woodrell and poetry and memoirs - did you read Alan Cummings memoir NOT MY FATHER'S SON?  One of my books of the year last year.  I like to read."
What is your writing process?
"Chaos.  I start with a little pip, like a pebble in my shoe that I can't ignore, and just write it all out really fast without editing or reading.  Then I let it settle awhile, spit on my hands and see what I've got.  There are a lot of coloured post-it stickers involved in the second draft.  It's not efficient but it's the only way I know.  And it is fun.  Except for all the weeping."
What is in store next?
"Since I finished THE CHILD GARDEN I've written the first draft of the eleventh in my DANDY GILVER series.  It's currently called Dandy Gilver and Some Nuns.  That might need work.  And now I'm deep in the first draft of a new stand-alone.  It's called QUIET NEIGHBOURS or possibly QUIET NEIGHBORS. "
With an American spelling???  LOL
Thank you again for talking to us, Catriona!

The Child Garden is currently available for us in the UK, and it will be released in the US on 8 September 2015.

The Child Garden - available NOW!

UK: purchase from purchase from Nook UK purchase from Kobo UK find on Goodreads
US: purchase from purchase from Kobo


Catriona McPherson said...

Great to be here - I thoroughly enjoyed this interview and thanks for having me. One thing - the book isn't actually out in the UK until August 2016!

BooksChatter said...

Hi Catriona - our pleasure! Thank you for the interview!
Indeed - the digital format is available in the UK, however the paperback is due for release on 4 August 2016!