Tom is a successful author, but he's struggling to finish his novel. His main distraction is an online admirer, Evie, who simply won't leave him alone. Evie is smart, well-read, and unstable; social-media friendships are not only her escape, but everything she has. When she's hit with a restraining order, her world is turned upside down, and Tom is free to live his life again, to concentrate on writing. But things aren't really adding up. For Tom is distracted but also addicted to his online relationships, and when they take a darker, more menacing turn, he feels powerless to change things. Maybe he needs Evie more than he's letting on.
A compulsive thriller, The Closer I Get is also a searing commentary on the fragility and insincerity of online relationships, and the danger that can lurk just one "like" away.
1.What is the genesis of The Closer I Get?
Some years I had a stalker. The harassment started online, where the person hid behind various screen names and avatars, and later spilled over into real life. It was deeply unsettling. Eventually they were identified, arrested and convicted. But it took me a long time to get over the impact of the crime.
2.What research did you do when writing The Closer I Get?
Not much. I’d lived a lot of it. I did speak to lawyers about court process and to other victims of stalking about how it impacted on them. Most of the stories were very similar to mine. 40% of people convicted of harassment or stalking breach their retraining order. My stalker didn’t. The book imagines what might have happened if they had.
3.Did you have writer’s block on The Closer I Get? If so, how did you get over it?
No, the book came quite easily - the Evie chapters in particular. Tom took a bit longer. I didn’t want him to become my alter ego in the book. He and I have very little in common. I actually found it easier to empathise with Evie than with Tom, at least at the beginning.
4.What was the most surprising thing you learned after writing The Closer I Get?
I learned to forgive the person who caused me so much distress and anger. That surprised me and also freed me, so it was a win-win.
5.Did anyone or anything inspired The Closer I Get?
See previous answers! There’s also a bit of Stephen King’s Misery in there, a bit of Morrissey, a bit of Fatal Attraction and a bit of Blondie. I’m a pop culture junkie. This often filters into what I write.
6.Where is your favorite place to write?
Hastings, where I have a small flat I go to when I need a break from London. I write best there.
7.What is your writing process in general?
I start early, before breakfast, work for a few hours, take a break and maybe go for a walk or run or to the gym. Then I go back to it for a few hours later. On a good day. On a bad day I’ll leave it until the next morning.
8.How do you balance between being a journalist and being a best-selling author?
It’s all a question of planning. And I’m good with deadlines - I’m used to them, having been a journalist for 30 years. Sometimes it’s hard to juggle the two, but not often.
9. What’s the best advice you have ever received about writing?
To aim to write every day, however little. I don’t always manage it, but if I write most days I find it easier to keep going. If I leave it too long, it takes a while to get back into it. It’s like an actor forgetting their lines and slipping out of character. Only the author is playing all the characters.
10.What was your favorite book when you were a kid? Do you have a favorite book now?
I had several - Winnie The Pooh, The Magic Faraway Tree, Carrie. My favourite books change all the time, depending on my mood and what I’m looking for in a book. Right now I’d say Tales of the City, The Talented Mr Ripley and Lisa Jewell’s latest, The Family Upstairs.
11.Who is your favorite superhero?
Batman. Ever since I was small.
12.What show would you like to make a cameo?
Better Things. It’s my current favourite TV show.
13. Have you ever considered writing a screenplay?
I’ve worked on a few but never really dedicated myself to it. My other writing takes priority.
14.What is your favorite condiment?
15.Silly-Game question: From The Closer I Get could you please leaf through the pages and point at a random place. What is the full sentence? And what is the page number of this random sentence?
Rose thou art sick! Evie, thou art sicker! Page 153
I truly appreciate Mr. Burston for taking his time to do this interview. The Closer I Get is now available at amazon, just click to link to get your copy today. You should definitely put it on your to-read pile as well. Thank you for stopping by here to read another interview. Thank you for your time and have a fantastic day.