Clare Mackintosh: The I SEE YOU Interview

Elise Cooper: Routine is the key word to this story?

Clare Mackintosh: I started the book with this quote to set the tone, ‘You do the same thing every day. You know exactly where you’re going. You’re not alone.’ We stay in these routines and do not think about it because they are extraordinarily comforting and familiar. For example, when we leave for a job we take the same route and leave at the same time each day. Unfortunately, this means we are lessaware of our surroundings. I realized in the cities many people know about others commutes, and how dangerous that could be.

EC: Did your professional experiences help you to write these psychological thrillers?

CM: I spent twelve years in the police and loved it. As it became increasingly hard to balance a busy career and raising three children I took a career break to become a writer. As a detective I was told victim’s stories, collected witnesses’ stories, and worked the surveillance cameras. When writing I ask myself, ‘could this happen, not if it will happen.’ If yes, then I run with it. I also had twins and decided to make the police detective Kelly a twin to have a strong emotional connection to her sister.

EC: Do you think Detective Kelly Swift became the main character?

CM: I certainly had no intention to make her it. But over the course of writing the story she became so vivid and such a strong character. I do think she threatened to overshadow the whole story. In the future I would dearly like to write more stories that put her front and center. There is still so much about her that I want to talk about. I am not done with her yet.

EC: Is there a culture difference or similarities between US and British crimes?

CM: We have gun control so the crimes are all about knifes, which is very high. They are pretty scary, particularly if a person who has all the power and control holds them. Stabbings can be just as fateful as a gun wound. When I was on a book tour in the States I really connected with the American readers, but I had to remember things are not the same as here. In England, we have surveillance cameras just about everywhere. There are also attack alarms given to domestic violence victims, but I took artistic liberty with Zoe.

EC: This story centered on technology?

CM: I hoped to prompt readers to think about what they put on their social media page. I am torn, since I am on it all the time with Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. It is fine to use it, but beware of it. Remember there can be a jigsaw affect. You have something on Facebook, and on a different website you mention something else about yourself. Someone can put all that together and have your complete profile. Technology has been created for good, but can now be used for evil purposes. As it gets more and more advanced the police and criminals are both playing catch up. They are feeding off each other as they try to outwit each other. It some sense technology has become bigger than us.

EC: Victims play a large role in this book?

CM: I like this saying, ‘Women are like teabags. You only discover how strong they are after being put in hot water.’ Kelly broke the rules to help the victim, Zoe. She felt it was her duty to keep this woman safe. I hope readers will decide if they were in her shoes would they break the rules or not? I wanted to show throughout the story how victims come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes a victim does not want their day in court because they just want to move on with their life. Kelly’s sister, Lexi, was of that opinion. For her, it was a way to take back control after she was disempowered. Victims have different motivations: some want closure, some a face-to-face meeting with their attacker, some want to see justice done, while others want to just move on. It is all about respecting the person’s decisions and feelings, and that includes the police as well as family members. Victims’ feelings must be validated.

EC: Can you give a heads up about your next book?

CM: Let Me Lie is about a woman whose parents killed themselves eighteen months ago. As she tries to find out why, someone is attempting to stop her. BTW: I am getting a lot of interest to make a film of I See You.