Anatomy of a Scandal - the trailers.

In the long run-up to Anatomy of a Scandal being published, nothing has made me more excited than the creation of a video to promote the book.

It's a Net-flix style trailer that's dark and tantalising with a soundtrack of searing strings in a minor key, a moody midnight blue and grey palette, and words which appear and disappear, teasing the reader with questions at the heart of the novel. Every time I play it - and that may have been more than once - I get goosebumps. Here it is:

Not content with creating one video, the S&S team have created a further two: one from the viewpoint of Sophie - the wife who wants to believe her husband - and another through the eyes of Kate, the criminal barrister who's convinced he is guilty. 

Here they are. First Sophie:

And then Kate:


The videos mirror the two main points of view in the novel, although we also see events from the point of view of James (who doesn't merit his own video), Ali and Holly. I think they capture the claustrophobic, introspective nature of these women's points of view, while the camera's gaze moving across and up the House of Commons, highlights how these personal dilemmas have wider moral and political implications. As the text indicates, and current allegations in Hollywood, Westminster and beyond are revealing, some secrets go all the way to the top.

Watch the US book trailer for Anatomy of a Scandal below.

Anatomy of a Scandal - cover reveal

The literary agent Jonny Geller recently tweeted that there were three components  crucial to a novel selling: title, cover, and timing of the release.

As a reader, I'm hugely influenced by that second part. Unless I've read a review or have read the author before, it's the cover that draws me to pick it up - particularly if it's placed alluringly on a table at the front of a shop.

My first two novels - dubbed women's fiction for the reading group market - have the swirly font associated with women's fiction in their UK editions. It's something that has perturbed some readers when they found unanticipated darkness within the covers of the books.

For my third novel, Anatomy of a Scandal, published by a new publisher, I needed something very different. Because although I'm still interested in female psychology and relationships, the truths we tell ourselves and the compromises we make, Anatomy is more deliberately suspenseful and darker with a very current and problematic theme at its heart.

I'm thrilled that my editor Jo Dickinson, and Simon & Schuster UK's art director Jack Smythe, had such a strong vision for my novel. Anatomy of a Scandal is partly a courtroom drama and the black strips conjure up the shredding of legal documents or the spooling of cassette tapes - the ripping up of words, of different truths - because the idea of differing perceptions of the truth is key.  And the woman glimpsed through these ripped words, enticing you to enter the world of this novel? Just watch her carefully:

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Anatomy of a Scandal will be published in January in the UK and December this year in the US as well as in 15 other languages. It will be fascinating to see how the covers vary - or whether this striking version is adopted elsewhere. The US cover, by Simon & Schuster US, brilliantly complements this - with another black cover, and another woman glimpsed through a gap. But that reveal's for another day.

Meanwhile, here's the blurb, which will run on the back, and should hopefully further entice the bookshop browser - a person intrigued by this cover - to go ahead and read:

Part courtroom thriller; part portrait of a marriage; part exploration of how our memories still haunt us, Anatomy of a Scandal is a disarming and provocative psychological drama.

Sophie’s husband, James, is a loving father and a successful public figure. Yet he stands accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is convinced he is innocent and desperate to protect her precious family from the lies that threaten to engulf him. She’s kept his darkest secret ever since they were first lovers, at Oxford. And if she stood by him then, she can do it now.

Kate is the barrister prosecuting his case. She’s certain that James is guilty and determined he should pay.  No stranger to suffering herself, she doesn’t flinch from posing the questions few want to hear. About what happens between a man a woman when they’re alone: alone in bed, alone in an embrace, alone in a lift . . .

Is James the victim of an unfortunate misunderstanding or the perpetrator of something sinister? Who is right: Sophie or Kate? This scandal – which forces Sophie to appraise her marriage and Kate her demons – will have far-reaching consequences for them all.

And here are some comments from some of the very first readers. Almost pinching myself that it's resonated in this way.

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Paris - and the French book launch of La Ferme du Bout du Monde.

Being filmed discussing La Ferme du Bout du Monde.

Being filmed discussing La Ferme du Bout du Monde.

Much of an author's life - or this author's life - is mundane and isolated, I've discovered. Compared to the buzz of a newsroom when a story's breaking, or the hum of a lobby corridor, my previous work environments, it can be solitary, doubt-inducing, and, when the words won't flow, a peculiarly toxic combination of stressful and dull*.

So it's particularly lovely to experience rare moments of excitement and glamour: a recent trip to the London Book Fair to have dinner with my US and UK editors; a Simon & Schuster crime evening where I met fellow writers; and, most recently, three packed days in Paris launching and promoting La Ferme du Bout du Monde, the French version of The Farm at the Edge of the World.

At Thé-rittoire, Paris, discussing La Ferme, and answering questions from bloggeurs, some of whom I recognised from my previous French launch.

At Thé-rittoire, Paris, discussing La Ferme, and answering questions from bloggeurs, some of whom I recognised from my previous French launch.

It's fair to say that, while The Farm at the Edge of the World has had the most beautiful reviews in the UK it hasn't troubled the bestseller lists. But the French edition, published by Préludes, a sumptuous imprint of Le Livre de Poche, entered the charts in the top 50 has already reached number 34. There have been reviews and a full page advert in French Elle and it was reviewed on Télé-Matin by Nathalie Iris, the owner of Les Mots en Marges bookshop, which held a signing. Click for the link for the TV review here. There's also a fantastic Youtube review with influential bookseller and literary festival organiser Gérard Collard here.

Likened to Daphne du Maurier - a huge inspiration for this novel - in French Elle.

Likened to Daphne du Maurier - a huge inspiration for this novel - in French Elle.

My trip involved being interviewed by bloggeurs and journalists, two signings, videoed interviews, in which my schoolgirl French finally became more fluent, and a celebratory lunch where I was plied with raspberry macarons infused with lychee and rose water and rosé champagne just because they complemented my novel's spine. But the best moment came in Les Mots en Marges bookshop where a voracious reader told me she was so immersed in the book she walked to work reading, dodging other commuters and lamp posts. "It's the pearl in my day," she said.

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Signing at the launch, where we drank tea - or champagne - and ate delicate savoury scones, a take on the food of Cornwall.

Le Livre de Poche/Préludes team - with my editor, Audrey Petit, dressed to co-ordinate with the cover; directrice générale Véronique Cardi, (right), and marketing director Florence Mas (left). Photo by Bobby Hall (my lovely mum.)

Le Livre de Poche/Préludes team - with my editor, Audrey Petit, dressed to co-ordinate with the cover; directrice générale Véronique Cardi, (right), and marketing director Florence Mas (left). Photo by Bobby Hall (my lovely mum.)

At Les Mots en Marges - Notes in the Margin - bookshop, where one reader made my trip by telling me she walked to work while reading my book. 

At Les Mots en Marges - Notes in the Margin - bookshop, where one reader made my trip by telling me she walked to work while reading my book. 

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Celebratory Pierre Hermé macarons, forest fruits and basil ice-cream, and rosé champagne, consumed because they correspond with this edition's raspberry pink spine.

Celebratory Pierre Hermé macarons, forest fruits and basil ice-cream, and rosé champagne, consumed because they correspond with this edition's raspberry pink spine.

I've deliberated about posting these pictures, back home in a world shaken by the Manchester bombing - an echo of the Bataclan shootings - and the political unease generated by Brexit and an imminent, needless general election. But just as I went to Paris weeks after the devastating November 2015 attacks - and blogged about it here - so I've decided to celebrate something so positive.

I was overwhelmed by the response from French readers, whose questions were, without exception, thoughtful, probing and incisive. It seems that a novel which probes the past - the dramatic thrust set during the Second World War, something within living memory of the parents of these readers - and is preoccupied with "la psychologie feminine" resonates across the Channel. There was also much enthusiasm for La Cornouailles.

La Ferme du Bout du Monde has been described as "une petite pépite" - a little nugget - and this trip is my equivalent. A reminder of the best part of writing - engaging with readers; and that - with the connections I've made with readers and my French publishers - I feel more European than ever. 

As I battle with book 4 - currently in its disconcertingly anarchic first draft stage - I'm feeding off these memories - and looking forward to creating more. On June 24, I'll be at the Salon Saint-Maur en Poche, the largest paperback literary festival in France. If you're a French reader who's come across this blog, I'd love to see you there.

*It can, of course, be wonderful. There are days when the characters start writing the novel themselves - but my view, at the moment, is clouded by my writing an early draft.

The Farm at the Edge of the World: giveaway for local readers.

The Farm at the Edge of the World has just come out in paperback and to celebrate I'm organising an exclusive give-away of a copy of the novel and a box of clotted cream fudge for local readers of the Great and Little Shelford newsletters.

All you need to do is tell me, in the comments below, your favourite childhood memory. It doesn't have to be long, exotic, or exquisitely written. It just needs to capture the essence of childhood. The competition ends on February 10 and I'll get David Martin, who compiles the newsletters, to choose the winner.

I also thought I'd share the cover of the German edition of this novel, which has a changed title of The House of Hidden Dreams. The low-slung granite farmhouse has been a rather beautiful Georgian home and Maggie, my farmer's daughter, has become rather more glamorous but I love the high cliffs and sense of romance and impending tragedy:

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Here, too, is the French version, published on 5 April, which keeps my title. This farmhouse reminds me of those in East Sussex but the sense of it being isolated and remote - a farm at the edge of the world - is intense. This Maggie is truly at the cliff's edge. I'm fascinated by how my farm at the edge of the world has been interpreted:

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If you'd like to hear more about the story of the novel, and how I came to write it, I've recently been interviewed on local radio. Here I am with Jeremy Sallis at BBC Radio Cambridgshire, 2 hrs, 22 minutes in; and here on Radio Cambridge 105's Bookmark programme, 14 minutes 50 seconds in.

And if you're unsuccessful in the giveaway, The Farm at the Edge of the World will  be half price - £3.99 - from 7-21 February in WH Smith stores if you buy a copy of Woman magazine. Thank you for taking the time to read, and I hope you enjoy it.