Exclusive from author Claire Cooper

Author Claire Cooper

Author Claire Cooper

1. It was inspired by a rain-swept night in Wales

I was travelling by coach from London to Wales, hoping to visit my dad. The weather was atrocious, and we ended up being diverted to a different location, miles from where we should have been.

We arrived there in the pitch black and a furious storm, and I made a beeline for the only taxi in sight. I’d been talking to a woman sat near me on the coach, and asked her if she wanted to share the fare.

The journey was a nightmare, crawling down country roads littered with fallen tree branches and puddles that were almost lakes. At one point, I realised I was in a metal box in the middle of nowhere with a woman I’d never met before.

And then the “What if?” question struck me – what if we hadn’t been on that same coach by accident? What if she knew who I was and wished me harm?

Of course, I didn’t really believe that of my poor taxi companion! But it was that seed that grew into the idea for The Elevator – two women who seem to be thrown together by chance, but who are actually deadly enemies. 

2. It was written mostly in lockdown

I spent a lot of time planning the story, and by the time I started writing we were in the grip of the covid pandemic.

I’m acutely aware that my lockdown experience was much less painful than that of many people. But I think that feeling of being trapped, hemmed in, fed very strongly into the way I wrote the scenes in the lift.

3. I have personal experience of being stuck in a lift

I don’t remember it though! It was actually my mum who was stuck in a lift when she was pregnant with me. I think that story probably stuck in my mind for 40-plus years, just waiting for its moment to blossom into a book.

4. The timeline for the plot was over 20 pages long

I knew that the history of the two main characters, Anna and Maeve, was going to be essential to the plot. That meant referring to their lives over a number of years, and I very much wanted to avoid getting myself into a pickle with the timelines.

I’m very definitely a planner not a pantser, and I spent many hours working out the sequence of events so everything fitted together and made sense. That timeline was over 20 pages long, but it was invaluable. I think it saved me a huge amount of time when it came to edits!

5. I can’t listen to music when I’m writing

I’d love to be able to work with music in the background, but it’s beyond me. Whenever I try, I find myself humming or singing along, concentrating on the song instead of what I’m supposed to be doing.

I don’t need perfect silence, though. I spent years working in an open-plan office, so I’m quite good at tuning out background noise. That works as long as people aren’t saying anything too interesting! If I hear a snippet of something juicy, I’m lost.

6. Anna’s Welsh and English parentage mirrors mine

Anna, the main character in The Elevator has a Welsh mum and an English dad, while with my parents it’s the opposite.

I grew up in Wales, but near the border with England, and I’m starting to realise that’s had quite a strong influence on how I look at the world. It’s something I’d like to explore more with another character in the future.

7. The dedication is meant literally

The Elevator is dedicated to my dad, and it thanks him for helping me chase rainbows. It’s a thank you for the part he played in giving me the self-belief to go after what I wanted – but it’s also meant literally.

When I was a kid, I was very taken with the idea that there was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. So when one appeared in the sky after a light shower, I was keen to retrieve the treasure.

My dad tried in vain to explain to me that the rainbow would move, the closer we got to it – but I was determined. So off we went, Dad carrying the shovel used to clean out the grate so he could do the necessary digging.

We hadn’t got far when I realised the sad truth – that rainbow remained stubbornly out of reach. But looking back on it now, I can see that Dad’s patience and willingness to help me discover things for myself was worth more than gold.

The Elevator
The Elevator

The Book: 

My whole body is shaking, my breath catches in my throat. I’m stuck here. Trapped. With the one person who will do anything to destroy me…

When I step into the elevator that sweltering morning, I barely notice the woman standing next to me. She seems out of place, with her floaty linen clothes in a building full of suits. But that’s none of my business.

A minute later, there’s a sudden jerk. The elevator stops. The lights go out.

The other woman’s face is deathly pale. She’s breathing noisily, clearly panicking. As we sit slumped against the mirrored walls, we start talking to try and keep calm.

I tell her I moved halfway round the world to start again where no one knew what I was hiding. I tell her my darkest secrets, because she seems to understand, and we’re never going to see each other again, right?

But I’m wrong. We’re not strangers.

None of this is an accident. And when the truth comes out, there’ll be nowhere to hide…

A brilliantly twisty ride from start to finish, that will have you gasping out loud at the twists. Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, Freida McFadden and Claire McGowan.

Female First A psychological thriller with a mind-blowing twist set against a web of lies, all will come out, but what will the outcome be a clever book that will keep you in the dark right up to the end. 

Author Bio

Claire Cooper grew up in a small village in south Wales before moving to London as a student. She graduated with a degree in Ancient History and Egyptology and spent seven months as a development worker in Nepal. On her return to Britain she joined the civil service, where she worked for 17 years on topics ranging from housing support to flooding. She hung up her bowler hat when she discovered that she much preferred writing about psychotic killers to Ministerial speeches. She lives in London with her husband and a pond full of very cute newts. She also writes as C. J. Cooper.

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Released 25th August 2023 - To purchase The Elevator click here

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by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
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