Karen Hamilton is the author of the new novel The Last Wife. She also has written the novel The Perfect Girlfriend. She lives in Hampshire, UK.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Last Wife, and for your character Marie?
A: The idea for The Last Wife came to me around the time that I was setting up a local book group in my village with friends. I looked up book clubs online and found that some were not as friendly as I’d assumed and that really surprised me.
I thought about how a character, such as Marie, would find the experience of joining an established group. Her character then grew from there.
Q: You've said that "a sense of identity and a desire to belong feature in varying ways in my books." Why do you think that is, and how do you think that sense affects Marie?
A: I travelled a lot as a child and went to different schools in different countries, so I believe I have experience of what it’s like to join in new groups. Marie is desperate for what she believes will make her happy, which is her perceived image of a “happy family.” This drives her to make decisions which are questionable at times.
Q: How would you describe the dynamic between Marie and your character Nina?
A: Their dynamic is complicated and we only have Marie’s point of view. However, their shared childhood and experiences did bond them and there was trust. Perhaps, however, if one of them had moved away from the area, the relationship would have naturally dissolved over time.
Q: Did you know how the book would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?
A: I always have an idea of how it will end, just not exactly where so I do make some changes along the way.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: At the moment, I’m working on a murder mystery with an international setting.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: That’s a hard one as I never know what readers will find interesting or not. Hmm… I attend a therapy session (called Characters on the Couch) each time I start a new book to delve deep into the mind of my latest main character.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb