West Sussex author explores clifftop death in new thriller

Steyning author Wendy Clarke is in print with her fourth psychological thriller.

Friday, 5th March 2021, 10:00 am
Wendy Clarke
Wendy Clarke

His Hidden Wife is published by Bookouture, available in all formats from Amazon, Kobo, Apple and Google or from The Steyning Bookshop (telephone orders).

Wendy, aged 59, explains: “It’s about a teenage girl called Maya who, at the age of six, was found lying under an electricity pylon at the scene of her mother’s clifftop death.

“Since that time, Maya has felt it her duty to protect her father even if that means never leaving home and living her own life.

“When, one day, Maya’s father introduces a new woman Amy into their lives, one who looks just like Maya’s mother, memories begin to surface, forcing her to question everything she knows. Are the memories of her happy childhood real or has her father just told her things she wants to hear? More importantly, what really happened the night of her mother’s death?

“In all my novels, setting has played an important role. His Hidden Wife is set in a fictitious village in Dorset and the idea to use the dramatic Jurassic cliffs as a backdrop to the drama came during a family break in the area to see in the New Year of 2020, taken just before the pandemic struck. We’d been walking with our dog Bonnie along the coastal path and I remember stopping and staring down at the chalk-white cliffs, the wind whipping my hair around my face, the taste of salt on my lips. Below me was the pebble beach where earlier we’d been fossil hunting. I had no idea of the plot for my next novel, but in that moment, listening to the pounding of the sea against the rocks, I knew this was where it had to be set. Not surprisingly, the rest of the walk was spent scribbling notes!”

The theme of His Hidden Wife is the importance and fallibility of memory.

“Memory has always fascinated me and was one of my favourite areas of study when I did my psychology degree, many moons ago. In particular, the different factors that can affect the way our memories are stored and how they are retrieved.

“My interest in writing about memory could also be because my own has a habit of letting me down on occasion!

“The novel is an emotional, twisty domestic thriller, aimed at anyone who likes to delve into the human psyche! My novels are often described as slow-burns that ignite to a page-turning, twisty conclusion.

“I’d like to say writing a novel is easy but that would be lying. A lot of hard work and hair tearing goes into each and every one… this one included! There are four, yes four, rounds of editing to go through once the draft has been handed to my publisher. Each novel takes me seven months to write then five months of editing – a year from start to completion. Having said that, there’s always an overlap: while I’m editing one, I’m also starting to write the next.

“My debut, What She Saw, was published in 2019 after winning the Flash500 novel competition. It’s set in my favourite holiday spot in England, The Lake District, and became an Amazon bestseller in weeks.

“My second thriller, We Were Sisters is set in Brighton and the area around Steyning which is where I live. Local readers have had fun trying to work out where some of the key scenes are set. The setting for The Bride, my third thriller, is an upmarket warehouse conversion in a derelict dock in London.”