Meet Karen Hamilton, Author Of The Last Wife

We are delighted to welcome to You’re Booked Karen Hamilton, author of the fantastic new book The Last Wife.

Karen Hamilton spent her childhood in Angola, Zimbabwe, Belgium and Italy, and developed a love of travel through moving around so much. This led her to a career as a flight attendant, and it was in the air that she thought of the idea for her debut thriller The Perfect Girlfriend.

Karen is a recent graduate of the Faber Academy, and has now put down roots in Hampshire to raise her young family with her husband. The Perfect Girlfriend was a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller in paperback. The Last Wife is her hotly anticipated second novel.

Karen sits down with us to talk about The Last Wife, her brilliant new psychological thriller.

Author, Karen Hamiltion.

Photographed by Emma Moore at Emma Moore Photography

Hi Karen! It’s great to welcome you to You’re Booked. 

For any readers who might not be familiar with your books, how would you describe your writing style to someone who has never read your work before?

I like to really get inside of the head of my characters so that readers experience their darkest thoughts during their conflicts and moral dilemmas.

What is your writing process? What does your typical writing day look like?

I’m a morning person, so I love to start as soon as I wake up. I have a notebook by my bed where I write down my first thoughts. During term time, I write during school hours. A ‘typical’ writing day would be to walk my children to school, then I’m at my desk just after nine. (After listening to the Ten-Minute Takeover on Radio One while I make my first – and usually only – coffee of the day). There’s no point in me writing in the evening unless I absolutely need to because I usually end up deleting most of it the following morning. I often write down ideas in my phone, then spend time deciphering them! When the children are not at school, I write as early in the morning as possible.

Have you always been a writer? Was novel-writing something you’d always known you would do?

Yes. It was always ‘the dream’ in the background (as well as being airline crew). I loved reading and I borrowed the maximum number of books from the library every visit. I recently came across an old school book and discovered that I’d written a really long-winded story about a runaway melon! I dabbled over the years, but it wasn’t until I had children and realised quite how fast time passed that I decided to take my writing seriously. My first big boost was coming second in a First Chapter competition for Grazia Magazine, that really helped my confidence.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your settings and characters?

It’s quite intuitive, in a way. The settings are usually places I feel drawn to. For example, The Last Wife is set in the New Forest, an area where I spend a lot of time and Ibiza is one of my favourite islands.

How do your characters develop? Do you find that your characters take on a life of their own when you are writing? Or are you always completely in control of what they say and do?

They usually come to me when I think of something that someone really shouldn’t do or say. They do completely take on a life of their own which means I have to do a lot of editing, which, luckily, I love. I do get to ‘know’ them extremely well and I often find myself thinking as they would when they’re going about their day to day lives.

When you are not writing, what do you do to relax?

Swim, read or walk by the sea.

What’s the best book you’ve read recently?

Ooh – that’s a tough one. Obviously there are loads! I’m going to cheat and pick three: Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Bitter by Francesca Jakobi and The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to any aspiring writers?

What worked for me was setting a word limit. Initially it was 1,000 words a day (which I spread out over a week as obviously it isn’t always possible each day). I immersed myself in the writing world by attending festivals, meeting authors, agents and editors.

The Last Wife

‘The Last Wife is a clever, addictive psychological thriller, with a twisting page-turning plot and a compelling and complicated central character’ 

Jenny Quintana, Author of The Missing Girl

Get the book now:

Buy It Through Amazon
Buy It Through Waterstones

Two women. A dying wish. And a web of lies that will bring their world crashing down.

Nina and Marie were best friends-until Nina was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Before she died, Nina asked Marie to fulfill her final wishes.

But her mistake was in thinking Marie was someone she could trust.

What Nina didn’t know was that Marie always wanted her beautiful life, and that Marie has an agenda of her own. She’ll do anything to get what she wants.

Marie thinks she can keep her promise to her friend’s family on her own terms. But what she doesn’t know is that Nina was hiding explosive secrets of her own…