Hello and a big blog welcome to Rebecca Thornton, author of the debut novel THE EXCLUSIVES, out this very Thursday (published by twenty7). A true page-turner that keeps you guessing and guessing about just what happened that night all those years ago, and what on earth Freya wants from Jo…Read it yourself to find out what on earth I’m on about!
Here’s the blurb:
A heartbreaking story of friendship and betrayal – can we ever forgive the ones we love the most?
‘Prep meets The Secret History meets Mean Girls – a stunning debut novel’ Esther Walker, author of The Bad Mother.
Freya Seymour and Josephine Grey are invincible – beautiful and brilliant, the two best friends are on the cusp of Oxbridge, and the success they always dreamed they’d share. 2014. Freya gets in touch, looking for a conversation Josephine has run away from for eighteen long and tortured years. Beginning with one ill-fated night, The Exclusives charts the agonising spiral of friendship gone wrong, the heartache and betrayal of letting down those closest to you and the poisonous possibilities of what we wouldn’t do when everything we prize is placed under threat. And in the end, as she realises she cannot run for ever, Josephine must answer one question: is it Freya she cannot face, or is it her own darkest secret?
‘Utterly gripping’ Esther Freud
‘Compellingly dark, brilliantly gripping: Rebecca Thornton takes a scalpel to the heart of female friendship.’ – Elizabeth Day, author of Scissors, Paper, Stone.
 Where did the spark for The Exclusives come from?
It came from a previous work-in-progress being (kindly) slated!
I was on the Writing a Novel course at Faber Academy. Every student would have something called a ‘Peer Presentation’ where they’d get five thousands words of their novels in progress critiqued by the class. When it came to my turn, there was a silence. It must have been about twenty seconds before anyone spoke, even though it felt like days. I think people were waiting for someone else to go first so they wouldn’t have to be the ones that said what everybody else was thinking.
During that Peer Presentation, one of my amazing tutors, Tim Lott, (who does individual mentoring for anyone looking) talked to me about honesty in my writing, which hit home. I already had the boarding school setting, but Tim told me to stop trying so hard and ‘just tell the story’. I went home that night and cried. It was the best thing anyone could have done for me though, because I woke up a few days later with the an idea that sparked the voice for The Exclusives.
My amazing husband got me this poster published a few weeks ago. I’ve hung it up in our study to remind myself when I’m struggling on book two, that I can do it!
 The narrative is written in two main time periods – 1996 & 2014. How did you plan and write these sections? e.g. in chronological order, the order they appear in the book etc.
I wrote it the order they appear in the book. It was totally all over the shop. The image here is a picture of my ‘plans’ for the book! As you can see, it’s totally disorganized. I can hardly read my own writing. God knows what I was thinking.
I also had four big sheets of flip-chart paper stuck to the wall where I worked on the characters’ timelines. Even looking at those notes now beggars belief. I was extraordinarily lucky, though, to have been taken on by Alison Hennessey from Harvill Secker, as part of the WoMentoring Project. Luckily, she gave me some incredible thoughts on the WIP, which really helped set out the time frame and narrative.
Apart from that, though, I just wrote and then amended things when I’d finished the first draft.
 There is a strong vein of mystery and secrets in the story. How did you organise the drip-feed of information to the reader, so that the truth came out bit by bit?
I didn’t really plan any of it. So I had to go back and foreshadow in parts of the first draft, but the rest of it was tied up mostly in the second draft. And third. And fourth and the rest. My poor agent!
 You’ve chosen 1st person present as the narrative voice – how did you come to this decision and what do you like about this voice?
The first rubbish attempt I wrote on boarding schools was written in third-person. During that awful Peer Presentation, someone pointed out that I should try writing it in the first-person. Perhaps his nice way of saying, “Look, third-person just isn’t working’ and he was absolutely right. When I was narrating in third-person, I was over-writing, over-compensating for the lack of confidence. When I switched to first, I was so ‘in the story’ that there wasn’t really room for that.
Here’s me at my kitchen table, where I manage to sneak in some writing when the kids are playing. It’s always a total mess and when it gets too much, I go to the library down the road.
 The themes of friendship and loyalty are very important in this book. Why did you want to write about this topic in particular?
That came from wanting to dissect, in particular, female friendship. I find the idea of all girls’ schools fascinating, especially boarders. How their psyches react to being confined in one space day in, day out. So the loyalty theme sprang from that.
 Can you share with us something about what you’re working on next?
I wish! *lies down on the floor and sobs*. My publishers might face-palm if they read this but it’s been about five months now and so far, nothing has stuck. One of my best mates is an author and she said I have to let the ideas percolate. Then I told her I had my deadline. She went a bit pale and told me to get a bloody move on. So, tomorrow, and all that…
Thanks so much to Rebecca for her enlightening and yet honest and funny answers! And remember, THE EXCLUSIVES is out this Thursday, so go and check it out at all book retailers.
You can find Rebecca online here:
and she’s on the WH Smith Spring Fresh Talent list here: