Cressida McLaughlin, The Cornish Cream Tea Holiday

Cressida McLaughlin, The Cornish Cream Tea Holiday

Hi Jane,

It’s me again! I feel like I’m constantly Twittering at you, trying to moderate my admiration for you and your books and play it cool, and always failing. Now here I am, writing you a letter, too – an open one, that some other people might read. Gawd. I hope this isn’t too weird for you.

I remember when I bought The Burning, after so many people in the book world, whose opinions I respect, said yours was one of the best crime series out there. I read it in a day and a night, cursed myself for waiting so long, and immediately downloaded The Reckoning. I tried not to get through the books too quickly, but when March 2020 came along and life turned upside-down, Maeve Kerrigan, Josh Derwent and your storytelling felt like the safest refuge.

Of course they’re not cosy books, but despite the dark, original, nerve-crunching plots, your world was the one I wanted to be in: with Maeve’s chaotic life but big heart, and Josh Derwent who, at first, I enjoyed feeling indignant about but who, over the course of the books, I fell for, quite hopelessly, as his actions showed the readers, if not Maeve, (come on, Maeve) how much he cared about her.

Some people might wonder why I haven’t picked a romance author to write to here, but for me, the Maeve Kerrigan series has the crunchiest, sexiest, and most maddening will-they-won’t-they. I remember messaging you in April – after I had begged your editor for a proof of The Cutting Place – getting to a particular scene and being overcome with giddiness at the excitement of it. And then, later in the book, when that scene had consequences, feeling complete devastation. We were locked down, there was a weird spring storm making our roof tiles jiggle menacingly, but I was in London, in summer, and my heart was pounding. That twist, the high and low of emotions, was so brilliantly written I felt winded.

Your stories make me feel everything: scared and sickened, tense and tantalised, happy and hopeful. The empathy for your characters and their situations shines out of the pages, and makes them whole. I find myself wondering what Maeve and Derwent are getting up to, and I reread my favourite scenes often. I have never anticipated a book as much as I’m anticipating your next one.

And then, when I tweeted about my new, slightly different, romance, (that I was terrified of putting out in the world) and you said you’d like to read it, I remember being overwhelmed, as if my brain had short-circuited. Those emails you sent me, then having a quote from you that conveyed all the things I wanted people to feel about my book, gave me so much confidence. It is, and I’m sure will always be, one of the highlights of my life as an author.

I hope this letter doesn’t embarrass you too much: it is probably over the top, but I don’t know how else to be. Thank you for the wonderful stories, for my favourite fictional infatuation, and for your kindness to me.

Love, Cressy. xx

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