Discover how Phoebe Morgan plans to celebrate her latest book, The Babysitter!
What’s it like to launch a book under Lockdown? Normally an author would be out and about, meeting bloggers and book editors, hosting lunches and afternoon teas, visiting bookshops to meet their readers and sign their books and giving interviews on radio and even TV.
But with bookshops shut and close contact with our fellow book enthusiasts severely curtailed, a book launch at this time looks a lot different, and authors are having to be increasingly creative in getting the news of their new book out there.
One such author is Phoebe Morgan. Already a best-selling writer of two psychological dramas The Doll House and The Girl Next Door, her new thriller The Babysitter is published on May 28.
I caught up with her to discover just how she is going to celebrate its publication.
Hi Phoebe, congratulations on the publication of your latest book, The Babysitter which promises to be another brilliantly plotted, suspenseful story. Can you tell us a little about it, please?
The Babysitter is a psychological thriller set between Suffolk and France. It centres around one terrible night in which baby Eve goes missing, and the woman who was looking after her, Caroline, is found dead. Who killed Caroline – and where is the baby? The book explores themes of sisterhood, infidelity, and motherhood, and I really enjoyed writing it.
What was the inspiration behind it?
I was inspired by a holiday I took a few years ago. We stayed in a beautiful French villa and I couldn’t stop thinking about what would happen if that perfection was brutally interrupted. In the first chapter of the book, the French police come to the door of a holiday villa and accuse Callum of murder. I liked the juxtaposition between a relaxing family holiday and something awful – I hope readers like it too. The rest of the book is set in Suffolk, where I grew up, so I was inspired by that as a setting, as well. I often find setting is a good place to start a novel – it sort of flows from there, I find.
How are you celebrating its launch?
Though some restrictions have lifted, we’re still in Lockdown so no doubt I will be in my flat in London! My boyfriend has said we can cook a nice meal and open a bottle of something, though, and I might arrange to Zoom my family so that we can have a little cheers! I have been very grateful for all the online support lately – the writing community has been wonderful and so I will probably spend some of the day on Twitter, too!
How would you normally launch a new book? Are you missing the excitement, or is it as thrilling in a different way?
Last year for my second book, The Girl Next Door, I had a big book launch at Hatchards bookshop in Piccadilly. It was a really special evening, but also quite stressful! I always get worried whether people will come or not, so actually not having that pressure this time around is quite nice! But I am very sad about the bookshops etc being closed, as I worry it will impact sales.
How are you getting the news out to your fans that there’s this great new book coming out? Can you rely on your usual team of publicists, bloggers and reviewers?
Yes, my publisher HQ have been great, and I’ve been doing some online publicity bits here and there. I’ll be sending out my newsletter to alert readers to the new book, and there will be a blog tour, too. The proof copies actually went out a while ago to reviewers, which is great, and I’m so grateful to my publisher and everyone who is supporting books at the moment. It really does make a difference.
Where would you recommend people buy the book?
It should be available in Tesco and Asda, so when you’re doing a weekly shop next week, please do pick one up! You can also order it through Hive, which supports independent bookshops (many of whom are struggling right now, which is so sad), or Waterstones online too. And of course it’s available on Amazon!
How is your writing going? Is the situation of Lockdown in the Time of Corona helping or hindering your motivation?
I am actually really enjoying writing at the moment – I am due to hand in book 4 to my editor on June 1st, so I’m writing the ending at the moment and then will do another edit before I send it over. I’m using my weekends to write and I like having it as a big project to do – otherwise I tend to feel a bit down at the weekends without the structure of work and my colleagues (who cheer me up on Microsoft Teams during the week!) So I am finding it easier than usual to motivate myself I think.
How are you filling your time when you’re not writing?
We have been growing lots of plants out on our rooftop space – I feel very lucky to have a tiny bit of outdoor space at the moment, so I’m spending time doing that, and I have been going out for a run every day too, which really helps mentally. I’ve also been working hard, as over at HarperCollins it’s basically business as usual, and I’ve been trying to read for pleasure a little more, too – which is so lovely and relaxing. I’ve read some brilliant books during lockdown.
Looking for a silver lining, do you think the current situation will inspire future plots?
Hmm, maybe! I personally am not keen to read about the virus, but I am sure some writers will be able to turn it into a good thriller! I hope that this time will remind us of the importance of community, so I think there will be a bit of a trend around that next year too, and maybe more books focusing on kindness.
Everyone is busy reading – apart from your own books, of course, what three books or authors would you recommend to take our minds off the current situation?
Ooh, I have really enjoyed Sarah Vaughan, Jane Shemilt and Louise Candlish lately – I’d highly recommend their new releases – Little Disasters, Little Friends, and The Other Passenger respectively.
Thanks so much for your time, Phoebe. Fingers crossed for another best-seller in The Babysitter, and good luck with your new book, too – hopefully by this time next year, you’ll be able to launch it in the traditional way!