Interview with RACHEL ABBOTT & her latest novel THE MURDER GAME

Rachel Abbott began her career as an independent author in 2011, with Only the Innocent, which became a No.1 bestseller on Kindle, topping the chart for four weeks.

Since then, she has published eight further psychological thrillers and sold over 4 million copies. She is one of the top-selling authors of all time in the UK Kindle store, and her novels have been translated into 21 languages. 

Rachel splits her time between Alderney – a beautiful island off the coast of France – and the Le Marche region of Italy, where she is able to devote all her time to writing fiction.

Her latest novel, The Murder Game is out on the 16th April. Here’s a taster…

A year ago today, we all gathered for Lucas’ wedding at his glorious Cornish home overlooking the sea. But no one was married that day. Now Lucas has invited us back to celebrate the anniversary. But the anniversary of what? The wedding that never happened, or the tragedy that occurred just hours before the ceremony was due to begin? 

He’s told us that tonight he has planned a game. We have our costumes, we have our parts, and everyone must play. The game, he tells us, is about to begin. 

What does Lucas want from us? What are we not being told? And what’s going to happen when this terrible game is over?  


Was there an inspirational moment when you decided to write your first novel and had you always wanted to write crime fiction? 

I have always loved thrillers – particular psychological ones – but I did not have the time to write until I was well into my 50s. I wanted to tell stories from the point of view of the victims or perpetrators of crimes, rather than solely from the police perspective, and the first idea came to me when I saw a woman on TV having been acquitted of murder after killing a man.

It made me ask myself what set of circumstances could be so difficult that a woman would have no option but to murder a man. I wanted her to have no other choices – no one she could turn to for help. And that was the basis for my first book, Only the Innocent.

Your debut, Only the Innocent was number one on Amazon in the UK and the US in Kindle, having been self-published. It is often said that you put together a strong marketing campaign to help the book break through. How much of its success do you put down to the fact that it is a fantastic thriller that just couldn’t be ignored and how much down to your own promotion of it?

Success is down to people loving your book and recommending to others. Marketing is simply about awareness. No matter how good a book is, if no one knows it’s out there and available, no one will buy it. So the first thing was to make sure people knew about it, and that’s where my campaign came in.

After that, like every author, I had to rely on the fact that people enjoyed my story and that they would spread the word. That is what happened to Only the Innocent. I saw it suddenly started to race up the charts, and then one reader pointed me to a couple of forums where people were talking about it. 

"I wanted to tell stories from the point of view of the victims or perpetrators of crimes, rather than solely from the police perspective"

You signed a ‘hybrid’ deal with Headline in 2017. What is a hybrid author?  

In this instance, the word ‘hybrid’ means that I still self-publish books in my Tom Douglas series, but I also have a traditional publishing deal with Headline for my Stephanie King series – including The Murder Game. It’s been a tremendous opportunity for me, and I’ve enjoyed comparing the two different approaches. 

The Murder Game is the second book in your Stephanie King series. Could you tell us about this character and whether you think readers of crime fiction (most of whom are women) are now more deliberately choosing novels with a female lead?

An interesting question! I know my readers love Tom Douglas, but when I came to write the first in the series, And So It Begins, I needed a police officer to discover the initial crime. As I wrote the scene, she naturally became a woman because it seemed more frightening.

Originally she was only going to appear in that scene, but Stephanie is strong-willed and doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and I immediately saw a wider role for her. She wasn’t written with a view to appealing specifically to women readers. I always choose the character that I think best fits the role and in this case it was Stephanie.

Who are some of your favourite crime fiction writers?

There are so many! Harlan Coben, Lisa Jewell, Kate Rhodes, Sharon Bolton, Elly Griffiths, and all for different reasons.

In Harlan Coben’s case, he is the master of creating scenarios that seem impossible, such as the story of the husband of a woman who was kidnapped and murdered who suddenly gets an email from her. Lisa Jewell writes about families in unusual, difficult and tense circumstances. I love Kate Rhodes’ latest series set in the Scilly Isles.

Sharon Bolton’s books are all so different from each other, she has a brilliant imagination and creates wonderful locations, and Elly Griffiths draws you in with her compelling characters. That’s just the start of a very long list.

Rachel tweets from @RachelAbbott 

Click here to buy The Murder Game

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