Welcome to Tea with Mrs B, an author interview series. Here to share a pot of tea and to chat about her brand new book, The Mother-In-Law, is Sally Hepworth.
Sally Hepworth is the bestselling author of The Secrets of Midwives (2015), The Things We Keep (2016) and The Mother’s Promise (2017), and The Family Next Door (Feb 2018). Sally’s books have been labelled “enchanting” by The Herald Sun, “smart and engaging” by Publisher’s Weekly, and New York Times bestselling authors Liane Moriarty and Emily Giffin have praised Sally’s novels as “women’s fiction at its finest” and “totally absorbing”.
Sally’s novels are available worldwide in English and have been translated into 15 languages.
Sally lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and three children.
Hello Sally. It is my pleasure to welcome you to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews. Thank you for joining me for Tea with Mrs B, an author interview series. To set the mood for our tea infused interview, what is your preferred beverage, tea, coffee or other? And side accompaniment, scone, cake or other?
Skinny latte and a raspberry white chocolate muffin please!
The Mother-In-Law, your latest book published by Pan Macmillan Australia, has just been released. Can you describe the book in just a sentence?
Okay but it’s a long sentence.
On the surface The Mother in Law is a novel about a wealthy matriarch who is murdered, but on a deeper level it is about the difficulties that matriarch has developing a relationship with her daughter in law … and more importantly, the misunderstandings that lead to those difficulties.
What came first in the creation of the novel – the title, plot, characters or setting when you first set out to write The Mother-In-Law?
The idea that came to me was about a mother in law who was murdered, so I supposed it was character and plot. And the title followed pretty quickly from there.
How long did it take you to write The Mother-In-Law?
It took nine months to write the book, which is about on par with the rest of my books. Books are like babies in this way (at least to me).
Did you need to undertake any research to bring The Mother-In-Law to life? How did you incorporate this research into your book?
This was my first novel that featured a crime so yes, I did have to research—particularly when it came to police procedures. But, as luck would have it, I was visiting a book club around the same time as I had the idea for this novel, and guess who I met at the book club? Not one, not two but three police detectives! I couldn’t believe my luck. They were very generous with their time, answering my (many) questions, and even reading the manuscript after the fact to ensure I got things right. (Funny story: my questions about murder got so specific that at one point that they had to let me know that if my mother in law died under suspicious circumstances that my emails would be on the record!).
What character did you most identify with in The Mother-In-Law?
As the writer, I have to find things about every character with which I identify. If I didn’t, I couldn’t write them. I need to empathise with them if I am going to step into their shoes. And so, I identified with both Lucy (the daughter in law) and Diana (the mother in law). Both women were flawed and both were courageous. I enjoyed writing them both.
What was the most challenging and rewarding aspects of writing The Mother-In-Law?
Every book has its challenges (even if it’s just getting to focus on it rather than the million emails in my inbox or the children I’m ignoring). That said, this book was less challenging than my previous books. I’m not sure why this was. Perhaps it was the crime that drove the story so well toward its conclusion? Perhaps it was the fact that there were only two point of view characters (where in the past I’ve had several). Perhaps the book just wanted to be written?
In any case, I just wish all my books would come together so easily. (You know that expression Writing a book is easy, you just sit down at your computer and bleed? I’ve lost a lot of blood in the book I’m writing at the moment—but that’s a story to tell you next year.)
What do you hope readers will take away from reading The Mother-In-Law?
I struggle with this question because I like people to take what they need from my books, and leave the rest. Everyone views things through their own lens, and what one person finds poignant, another will find irritating and overdone. Sometimes people find meaning in things I didn’t even intend—so who am I to tell them what to take from my book? I can tell you that what I learned from writing it is that we never completely know someone else’s story and it’s helpful to come from a place of empathy.
How will you celebrate the official release day of The Mother-In-Law?
I will most likely spend it with my wonderful publicist, driving around town signing books! But I hope to have a glass of champagne with my friends and family too.
What is next on the horizon for Sally Hepworth? Do you have any writing projects you would like to share with us?
I am currently working on revisions for my 2020 book which will be about … Swingers! And that’s all I can tell you for now. Watch this space!
Finally, what 2019 book releases are you most excited to read?
I am most excited about The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer, which comes out in March. I was lucky enough to read an ARC for it a few months back and I know it is going to be HUGE.
Thank you for taking the time to visit Mrs B’s Book Reviews for Tea with Mrs B Sally. Congratulations on the publication of The Mother-In-Law!
Someone once told me that you have two families in your life – the one you are born into and the one you choose. Yes, you may get to choose your partner, but you don’t choose your mother-in-law. The cackling mercenaries of fate determine it all.
From the moment Lucy met Diana, she was kept at arm’s length. Diana was exquisitely polite, but Lucy knew, even after marrying Oliver, that they’d never have the closeness she’d been hoping for.
But who could fault Diana? She was a pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice, the matriarch of a loving family. Lucy had wanted so much to please her new mother-in-law.
That was ten years ago. Now, Diana has been found dead, leaving a suicide note. But the autopsy reveals evidence of suffocation. And everyone in the family is hiding something…
From the bestselling author of The Family Next Door comes a new page-turner about that trickiest of relationships.
The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth was published on 29th January 2019 by Pan Macmillan. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
Connect with Sally here:
If you haven’t entered my GIVEAWAY already, here is your chance…
To help kickstart your 2019 reading, Pan Macmillan are kindly offering 2 lucky readers an opportunity to win a copy of The Mother-In-Law, Sally Hepworth’s latest release. Simply subscribe by email to my blog and leave a comment below on this post to be entered into this great competition! Good luck!
*Competition open to Australian postal addresses only. Closes Wednesday 6th February 2019, 11pm (WST).