Monday, November 13, 2023

Q&A with Gilly Macmillan




Gilly Macmillan is the author of the new novel The Manor House. Her other books include To Tell You the Truth. A former art historian and photographer, she lives in Bristol, England.


Q: What inspired you to write The Manor House?


A: I wanted to write a thriller about money and how it can affect families and communities.


I read about pyramid schemes, and especially those smaller-scale ones that can infiltrate neighbourhoods and cause so much trouble and betrayal, but I struggled to find a way to make a plot work. The cast of characters kept expanding.


I was chatting to my agent about it, and we started talking about lottery winners and it was suddenly obvious that a lottery win would be a simpler way to tell the story I had in mind.


The decision to make the Manor House and the Glass Barn a significant part of the plot was simple. Who doesn’t fantasise about a real estate upgrade if they win the lottery?


Q: The writer Shari Lapena said of the book, “The neighbors aren’t quite what they seem—but then nobody and nothing is in this gripping new thriller by Gilly Macmillan.” What do you think of that description?

A: I love it. But then I love everything that Shari Lapena writes!

I don’t plan my books in advance, so characters and plot develop and reveal themselves to me as I write and that’s exciting, surprising, and sometimes shocking. If I can maintain that experience for the reader, I’m very happy.

Q: Is the house in the book based on an actual manor house?

A: It’s not based on one in particular but is a mashup of a lot of beautiful, old, and sometimes creepy houses I’ve visited. I love looking around historic buildings.


The Lancaut peninsula, where the Manor House is located, is a real place, not far from where I live. When I went to visit it for research I was stunned. It’s a beautiful and dramatic setting.


Q: How did you juggle all the different points of view as you wrote the book?


A: With difficulty.


It’s easy at the beginning of a book, when everything is still relatively simple, but by the time I get halfway through I need to create a list of scenes in a table that tracks the characters and shows what each of them is doing and what information is revealed when we’re in their point of view.


It allows me to make sure the plot unfolds as effectively as possible.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m working on a new thriller that will be a little different. I’m very excited about it.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Watch this space for the next book!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Gilly Macmillan.

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