S. 8, Ep. 3: Interview with Crime Writer Lucy Clarke — Debbi Mack

So the premise in simple is six British women go to a beautiful Greek island for a long weekend to celebrate Lexi who is getting married and in England, we call it hen weekend. … The stage is sort of set for this beautiful weekend away, except we know very early on that there’s going to be a death and we don’t know who is going to be, and we don’t know who is going to be the killer, except that is one of the women.

Debbi: I’ve started it. And I love it’s told from differing perspectives and it’s very intriguing and very compelling reading from the start.

I normally have character biographies. With ONE OF THE GIRLS, I had a really crazy writing experience, which I’ve never had before. Which I’ll tell you about, because it was been very unusual for me.

Cuz this world is really scary. And I decided I wanted to be in Greece with six girlfriends, even though I’m locked down in my house, that’s where I’m gonna travel to in my head. So I planned the novel for two days. I decided Greece, six women, a hen weekend, four nights, let’s go. And I stepped into the first character’s voices knowing very little about the, that it was Lexi. She used to be a dancer and now she’s a yoga teacher. Let’s see what happens. And I began writing and I wrote a first draft of ONE OF THE GIRLS in 17 days and a normal novel would take me eight months to do a first draft of, and the words just came fast and fluid and without character biographies. And I felt like at the end of that draft, I knew those characters far better than I would know, characters a year in, in other novels I’ve written. It was just a really crazy experience for me and, and easily the most joyful writing experience I ever had.

I just closed everything out apart from just, like I have two young children and a husband and we are in our house together and I only had the mornings to write cuz then I was homeschooling in the afternoons, but just that light going inward closing out the noise and distractions was was amazing, amazing in terms of like my productivity.

Debbi: Well, that’s extremely interesting. Good to know. Thanks. And congratulations, by the way on having your book made into a series. How did that come about? Was, did someone contact your agent or did your agent contact someone <laugh>?

So all of my books will go out on sort of, not necessarily on submission, but they’re out there in the world. And if anyone’s interested in them, they’ll contact my TV agent. Or she would put it out on a formal submission.

That was four years ago. So when a book gets optioned it is a very long process to it getting made. And for people who like me didn’t know anything about that process, option is where a production company comes to you and says, we want to make this book into a series or a film. But no one else can, during this time we’ve got an 18 month license to do that. And in that time, the hope is they would find a broadcaster who would then fund the development of the project. And I was very lucky that it actually went all the way to being the final stage, which is greenlit for shooting, which is where you get the funding. And Paramount+ are producing this as a sort of broadcaster. So I got to do like basically the, the best two weeks of my life.

So when a book gets optioned it is a very long process to it getting made. And for people who like me didn’t know anything about that process, option is where a production company comes to you and says, we want to make this book into a series or a film. But no one else can, during this time we’ve got an 18 month license to do that.

In April, I flew out with my family to Thailand to go on set of THE BLUE, which is being filmed out there over six months. It’s set on a yacht and the, the premise is a group of travelers board, this yacht. It’s almost like a hippie commune of people traveling around by sea and everything seems, you know, wonderful until they go on a passage and, and someone disappears overboard. And it’s a question of, you know, is it murder? Was it man overboard? What, what happened? So yes, I went over to Thailand to watch it being filmed and it was just incredible to see it and to, you know, to be there, to see the yacht that I had imagined in my head. Yeah, so it’s, it’s been a real highlight and I think it comes out next year, so I can’t wait to see it.

I went over to Thailand to watch it being filmed and it was just incredible to see it and to, you know, to be there, to see the yacht that I had imagined in my head.

Debbi: It’s an amazing process. That whole thing, all the stuff that goes before, the actual making of a television show or movie is astonishing.

I suppose for me, the only ideas that I submit are things that I know I am passionate enough about to be spending the next year on, because I’ve made that mistake before with, with one book that I was a bit more, slightly more market led and the book did very well, but I didn’t enjoy the writing process of it.

Debbi: Absolutely. I mean, if you’re not enjoying it, it’s, it’s just gonna be torture <laugh>.

I am quite a sociable person, so I actually find the marketing side of it in the publicity tours, quite pleasurable because I’m quite happy after the isolation of being solo in my room to, to go out and meet people. But it can also be, you know, such a gear change for me.

Debbi: Yes, yes. What advice would you give to someone who would like to write for a living?

[O]nce you shift that lens of thinking, if my book doesn’t get published, I’m not a writer. And I shifted it to think, I love writing and I’m gonna carry on writing for as long as I enjoy it. And that was what changed it for me. So I made that decision that if I didn’t get my second book published or my third or my fourth or my fifth, I would carry on for as long as I enjoyed it.

Debbi: Yeah. That’s great advice. Absolutely. is there anything else you’d like to add before we finish up?

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New York Times bestselling author of seven novels, including the Sam McRae Mystery series. Screenwriter, podcaster, and blogger. My website: www.debbimack.com.

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Debbi Mack

Debbi Mack

New York Times bestselling author of seven novels, including the Sam McRae Mystery series. Screenwriter, podcaster, and blogger. My website: www.debbimack.com.