With more than two million copies of her books sold worldwide, number one bestseller Clare Mackintosh is the multi-award-winning author of I Let You Go, which was a Sunday Times bestseller and the fastest-selling title by a new crime writer in 2015. It also won the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year in 2016.

Together, Clare’s books have been published in more than forty countries. Clare is patron of the Silver Star Society, a charity based at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford, which supports parents experiencing high-risk or difficult pregnancies. She lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children.

Is this your first time in Sharjah?
It is indeed. I’ve been to Dubai several times, but never to Sharjah, and I’m looking forward to exploring the city.

Your first book, I Let You Go, was the fastest-selling debut crime novel in 2015. What started you on the path to crime?
I’ve loved crime fiction since I was a child. I grew up reading Enid Blyton books such as The Famous Five and The Secret Seven, which are essentially crime novels with children as the investigators. As I grew up, I graduated to Agatha Christie and Ruth Rendell novels, then began reading a lot of American police series. When I left the police and started writing novels, I think it was inevitable I’d ‘turn to crime’!

You were in the police force for 12 years. How has that experience informed your writing?
Obviously it makes it easier in terms of research – what I don’t know personally, I can find out from former colleagues – but more importantly, it taught me a lot about human nature. I learned that good people do bad things, and that bad people can surprise us with good things. I often write about ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary situations, and these are the people I encountered when I was a police officer.

You are a founder and former trustee of the Chipping Norton Literary Festival. How do you feel writers
can make the most of book festivals, and the opportunities they offer?

Book festivals are such a joy for readers and writers! I always learn so much about the process of writing – you never stop learning, no matter how many books you’ve written – and I love speaking to readers. New writers should try to attend as many events as possible (virtually or in person), and make connections with more established authors, as well as taking inspiration from the wide variety of literary events.

You have just published The Last Party which is set in Wales and introduces readers to DC Ffion Morgan. Can you tell us something about the inspiration behind this new series?
The Last Party is set in a fictional part of North Wales, UK, where the border between England and Wales runs through the middle of a lake. On the Welsh side of the lake is a small rural community, and on the English side is a luxury holiday resort. One New Year’s Eve, there’s a party at the resort, designed to build bridges between the two communities. The following morning, as the villagers run into the lake for their traditional New Year’s Day swim, a body floats through the mist... This kickstarts a cross-border investigation led by Detective Constable Ffion Morgan and her English counterpart, DC Leo Brady. Although the world I’ve created is fictional, I live in North Wales, and swim in a lake very like the one in the book. Fortunately, I’m yet to encounter any bodies...

What are you hoping to gain from your visit to the Sharjah Book Fair?
I’m excited to meet authors from around the world, and will be sure to leave space in my suitcase for all the books I’ll be bringing back!