Anatomy of a Scandal: number 5 in the charts, tour dates, and a quick catch up.

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I’m absolutely delighted that, ten days after publication, Anatomy of a Scandal has stormed to number 5 in the Sunday Times bestsellers’ charts - in a week when abuse at the heart of Westminster’s in the news once again. I am proud, but also grateful to everyone who’s bought my novel, and in particular to the team at Simon & Schuster who’ve been championing it for almost two years.

I’m off on tour this autumn, venturing as far as Wales, Devon and Scotland to talk about my prescient novel about power, privilege and consent.

The first stop was last weekend, where I appeared at Guildford Literary Festival with my bestselling writer friend and fellow S&S author, Louise Candlish, and for most of these events I’ll be pairing up with other authors, which I thinks makes for a far more interesting discussion. So I’ll be talking alongside authors including The Secret Barrister and William Clegg, QC, psychological thriller writer, Amy Lloyd, EC Fremantle, whose latest has been described as a Jacobean Gone Girl, and novelist Sofka Zinovieff.

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Anatomy’s also been picked as The Mail on Sunday YOU magazine’s reading group book of the month for October. You can get 20% off the £7.99 price of a copy, and read about the inspiration behind it here. From Thursday, 17th, it will be both the book of the week in Waitrose, and a deal in Tesco where you can snap it up for £2.50 if you buy a copy of the Sun. (It’s also £3 in Sainsbury’s.)

Enough hustling. I need to get on with writing, inspired by the large audience Louise and I met at Guildford - one of whom told me she’d been reading my novel until 4am that morning; and another who was inspired to tick off a man who’d been trying not to pay for his cappuccino at the hotel bar after listening to us talking. A third concluded, after listening to us: “But you’re lovely women, really.”

We are, and I am. Do come to any of these events if possible. I’d love to meet you.



Anatomy of a Scandal is a WHSmith Richard & Judy pick!

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I’m usually hopeless at keeping my own secrets, invariably wanting to share good news. But this summer there have been two I’ve held tight and I can’t tell you what a relief it was to share one last Thursday, when Anatomy of a Scandal was published in paperback.

As the obligatory sofa shot reveals, my novel about power, privilege and consent has been picked as one of Richard and Judy’s autumn Book Club picks. I could not be more thrilled. For a writer who loves reading the books they pick, and aspires to write novels that provoke and resonate, this feels like the pinnacle of my career.

Although I’ve known since early June - June 8! nearly three months! - it didn’t feel completely real until I met the legendary pair less than a week before publication day. OK, so I’d already answered questions for them and written an essay on the inspiration behind Anatomy of a Scandal; I’d gone through the proofs of these pages; and I’d even seen a finished copy of the special WH Smith’s edition, which I’d hidden in a box in my office so that my children wouldn’t stumble upon it or I’d inadvertently show it to friends. But I didn’t quite believe it was happening until I was on my way to a five-star central London hotel to record a podcast with them.

I was ridiculously early, of course, and there was no sign of them initially. (I didn’t realise they and the production team were hidden away downstairs.) But after I’d been asked various questions about my writing technique - to be spliced into the trail for the interview - and given myself a pep talk in the loo (where I correctly guessed another smartly-dressed woman might be an author; she turned out to be Amy Lloyd, author of The Innocent Wife), I was ushered to meet the couple who are so well-known that, like Nigella, or Tess and Claudia, they’ve no need for surnames.

And they were lovely. Warm, interested, professional and so intent on putting me at my ease. Richard drew parallels with his own experience as a court reporter before he went into broadcasting, and with their experience as TV hosts in pouncing on a story. “We’ve found that, haven’t we Judy?” he said, referring to a part of the novel where journalists, listening as evidence in the court scenes, know they have a top line.

Although I’d been told they read all 15 books on this selection’s shortlist before whittling them down to the final six, I hadn’t expected them to remember mine in such detail. (That’s a reflection on me: I can love a novel but a few months later will have forgotten the names of characters, or even a twist.) I genuinely felt as if they were immersed in and engaged with the novel. And as I left, Richard told me: “Some books choose themselves. It’s a fantastic read.” (You can read what they have to say about Anatomy of a Scandal here, while the podcast will be live from November 1.)

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Meeting the two of them, and seeing my novel at the front of the Cambridge store, and advertised in the window, were real “pinch me” moments: experiences I doubt I’ll ever forget. I’m so proud that they’ve rated my novel but most of all I’m delighted their seal of approval means Anatomy of a Scandal will be widely available, and hopefully read. (As well as the special WHSmith edition, it’s on sale in Waterstone’s, independent bookshops, amazon and in Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons and Waitrose - the full sweep of supermarkets.)

In an era in which the issue of entitled men becoming even more powerful has never been more evident - see Kavanaugh and President Trump’s apology to him this morning - nor the subsequent burgeoning of women’s rage, I hope my novel, in some tiny way, adds to the debate.

And that other secret? Well, there’s a hint of it in the questions posed by Richard and Judy at the end of their edition of the book. But the details? I’m still having to keep them safe.




Powerful allies, frat boy culture and consent: how Anatomy of a Scandal resonates with Kavanaugh.

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It’s the US paperback publication of #Anatomy of a Scandal today - and once again the timing could hardly have been more prescient. The issue of what happens when entitled boys become powerful men has been thrown into sharp focus by a televised drama that has gripped America: the Senate judiciary committee hearing into whether Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford at a teenage party 36 years ago.

Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee is alleged to have clamped a hand over the then 15-year-old’s mouth and wrestled with her clothing. Giving evidence under oath, Dr Ford said she believed she was going to be raped and accidentally killed, and was “100 per cent” certain he was the 17-year-old who pinned her to a bed against her will. A visibly irate Judge Kavanaugh repeated that he was innocent. But while the President immediately tweeted his support - his performance “showed America exactly why I nominated him,” - Judge Kavanaugh’s injudicious behaviour has raised doubts about his suitability as a Supreme Court justice. As an article in the New York Times yesterday opined: “Retribution and distemper — even under extraordinary stress, which can obscure but also amplify a person’s character — are not qualities one should seek in a Supreme Court justice or a judge of any kind.”

Without creating spoilers, Anatomy of a Scandal - my #metoo marriage thriller/courtroom drama - explores the sort of frat boy culture that Judge Kavanaugh is alleged to have enjoyed at Yale law through a fictitious Oxford university dining club called The Libertines. (Itself, a thinly disguised Bullingdon Club, to which the former prime minister David Cameron, and former foreign secretary Boris Johnson belonged.)

In my present day story, when my charismatic politician James Whitehouse is accused of raping a parliamentary aide with whom he’s been having an affair in a House of Commons elevator, he retains the backing, at least in private, of his ally, the Prime Minister - just as Judge Kavanaugh retains the support of President Trump.

I’ve written about the cognitive dissonance of writing fiction only to see it reflected in real life here for the US literary site, CrimeReads: a piece prompted by the Westminster sexual harassment allegations, that led to the resignation of two Cabinet ministers, last October (and included three claims of an MP groping in a lift.)

A year to the week that the Harvey Weinstein allegations broke, Anatomy of a Scandal’s themes of power, privilege and consent, and its examination of a certain kind of toxic masculinity have not only been seen in Hollywood, sport and the City but are now being discussed in relation to a nominee to the Supreme Court.

In the words of People magazine which picked it as their book of the week, it’s “a nuanced story line perfectly in tune with our #metoo times.” To quote New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell it “completely skewers the zeitgeist.”

I hope it enrages, as much as it entertains.

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Anatomy of a Scandal: A catch up - and tour dates.

So much has happened since I last posted here - not least Anatomy of a Scandal soaring to number 7 in the Sunday Times bestsellers list, spending 3 weeks in the top 10, and six in the chart in total. It remains in the e-book bestseller chart - 15th bestseller throughout February and peaking at number 10 - and is riding high in the audio chart, too. 

I've done a promotional tour in Madrid and Barcelona, involving 18 interviews, two on TV, and the most forensic questions - covering Trump, Deneuve and Woody Allen; an imminent Catalan rape trial; and the reach and impact of MeToo.

I've also written about the cognitive dissonance of writing about something only to see it reflected in real life for @CrimeReads, an offshoot of the US literary site, lit hub. You can read the article here.

For someone who hates listening to her own voice, I loved participating in two podcasts. First, @TheWords podcast on feminism with the hugely impressive Everyday Feminism founder, Laura Bates, and writer Ann Helen Peterson, which Grazia and The Guardian chose it as their pick of the week's podcasts. (You can listen to it here.) And then the two crime writers podcast, with Luca Veste and Steve Cavanagh. I'm episode 53 and you can download it here. Both give a fantastic insight into why I wrote Anatomy of a Scandal, and the Words includes two audio excerpts, my first taste of the incredible narration.

There have also been events at Heffer's, Cambridge, Waterstone's Gower Street in London,  and Booka Bookshop in Oswestry with fellow authors Elizabeth Day and Fiona Cummins, as well as a First Monday Crime panel at City university which I loved. Pics to be posted soon.

And S&S are also sending me out on tour again, from Glasgow to my home city of Exeter, with Oxford, Bristol and Liverpool thrown in too. I've loved the events I've done so far and this time I'm paired at each one with at least one other writer, which always makes for the most interesting conversations. I'd love to see you. Do come along!

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