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Something In The Water: Book Review and Interview with Author Catherine Steadman

Author: Lisa Soeno

I know it’s silly, but I always judge books by their covers. So when I first caught sight of this one I was dubious: thrillers aren’t usually my genre of choice. But as I knew it was written by Catherine Steadman, actress from The Inbetweeners (one of my guilty pleasures) and Downton Abbey no less, I was intrigued and keen to give it a whirl.

And gosh am I glad I did so.

It was UNPUTDOWNABLE. I absolutely whipped through it. Which is something I haven’t done since pre-kids. Ok so I didn’t read it in one sitting, but it only took me a week or so. There were several nights during that week when I was awoken by a crying Jenson at 3am: when he was placated by his dummy I needed no other excuse to jump into the spare bed and devour another chapter.

It’s the story of a young couple who seemingly have it all. Erin is an up-and-coming filmmaker, and Mark an investment banker. They’re young, madly in love, and have a bright future ahead of them. However when they come across a suitcase full of cash whilst honeymooning in Bora Bora, and decide to keep the money, they get drawn further and further into a dark underworld of crime and twists and turns.

Catherine grabs the reader’s attention from the very start. The opening line, spoken by Erin, is ‘Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave?’ and a couple of pages later we discover that the grave being dug is her husband’s. The deeper into the book you go, the more the suspense and pace builds, and I’m glad to say that the ending didn’t disappoint either.

If you’re looking for a summer beach read, I’d highly recommend. And if you don’t take my word for it then take Reese Witherspoon’s. Reese’s production company are currently in the process of turning the book into a film…read more about this in my interview with Catherine below.

How did you get the idea for the plot?

I first had the idea for this story while filming on the border of the Namibian desert. It was so hot that the background artists were fainting in the heat. I just loved the idea of all that crystal clear water. And the idea came to me – what would a person like you or me actually do if they found a bag full of money floating in the ocean? What would they really do? And how would that play out?

How important would you say it was to be a good judge of character? Are you a good judge of character? (I’ve got to admit, I’m an awful judge of character!)

The thing about judging people’s characters is that we all get it wrong sometimes. Whenever something terrible happens we always hear on the news that the person responsible seemed like such a nice person very rarely do people they say that they ‘knew all along’. Plus, the media is forever telling us that sociopaths and psychopaths are people highly skilled at manipulation and ‘fitting in’ so is it really any wonder that we don’t know who someone really is until we know. We all make mistakes sometimes – we’re only human – but we’ve just got to hope that those mistakes don’t cost us too much in the end.

How did you research for the book?

I did a lot of googling!! It was important to me that everything Erin does in the book is something achievable for a normal person with no special training or knowledge. Everything she does can be learnt/found on the internet. I watched a lot of potentially questionable YouTube videos on firearms and diamond trafficking. My hard drive would be deeply concerning if taken out of context!

How long did it take to write the book?

My first draft took me around 3 months to write – and then the subsequent edits where done over several months with my editor.

I’ve read that the book may be produced as a film by Reese Witherspoon’s production company … Could you tell us more about this?

I had a very surreal phone conversation with Hello Sunshine (Reese Witherspoon’s new company) about this exact question a few months ago and pre-production is now at the script stage, so it’s all very exciting and hopefully we’ll hear more soon.

I really trust Hello Sunshine, and Reese’s, instincts on this one as she has produced some of my favourite book-to-screen adaptations over the last few years. I loved the screen adaptations of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies all brilliant female driven stories.

I also read an interview with you last year where you said you were trying to read a book a week which is pretty impressive! How’s that going?

Last year I set myself the challenge of trying to read a book a week for the whole year, unsurprisingly I didn’t quite achieve that… but I did manage a book every two weeks – which was pretty ok by me! I found that I watched a little less tv, looked at my phone a little less, which is never a bad thing and I managed to slow down, make time and relax. And so far, I’ve managed to carry the ‘book every two weeks plan’ into this year too…

Which do you prefer, books or ebooks?

Definitely books, I’ve tried ebooks but I just love the physical activity of reading too much to switch. You can’t beat the weight of a book, that papery smell, the sound of turning pages.

What’s the best book you’ve ever read? And what was your favourite book as a child?

Wow, that’s a big question – with a constantly adapting answer, but I’d say that Stoner by John Williams is my current favourite book.

As a child I was obsessed with Douglas Adams. I read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy a lot. Actually I read a lot of everything really.

Which book that you’ve read has had the most influence upon you?

There are a few books that spring to mind but Jane Eyre would definitely be one of them. I love the direct contact Jane has with the reader, it makes the book so modern and relevant regardless of when it was written – I don’t feel like I’d experienced that connection between protagonist and reader to that degree in any book previously. For me Chuck Palahniuk and Gillian Flynn both have that same sort of immediacy, it’s thrilling and I think I’d read anything either wrote on the basis of that.

What’s your favourite genre of books?

I think my genre preferences change pretty seasonally. In Spring and Summer I like to read psychological thrillers, non-fiction and up-lit (Gillian Flynn, Yuval Noah Harai, Libby Paige) and then in the Fall and Winter I think I naturally gravitate towards more high-concept stuff, like mysteries, horrors, sci-fi (Shirley Jackson, MR James, Philip K Dick). It’s not a conscious decision but I feel like it holds true most of the time.

Who are your favourite authors?

Gillian Flynn, Chuck Palahniuk, Douglas Adams, Ottessa Moshfegh, John Williams…

What did you want to be when you were little?

An actor. There was a medical drama on television and I asked my mother what job the man on it was doing and she told me he was an actor… not really a doctor at all. She explained he might be a doctor one day, and then a lawyer the next, or an astronaut, or a historical figure, or a ghost… and I was sold.

What are you most proud of in your career?

In my writing career I’m most proud of my first book being published! It’s been an absolutely amazing experience from first draft to pre-publication working with some brilliantly talented editors, agents and publishing folk. I’m thrilled that, at present, SITW will be published in the UK & USA and in 16 further language translations across the world.

In my acting career I think working on Downton Abbey is up there, it was such an amazing working environment and I’m so proud to have worked on a show that people really loved and enjoyed watching. I’m also proud of my Olivier award nomination for playing Jean Tatlock in the RSC’s production of Oppenheimer in the Westend. Jean was a psychiatrist and the real-life mistress of Robert J Oppenheimer the man behind the creation of the atom bomb.

Which do you prefer and why, writing or acting?

I love them both but they’re very different.

Do you have any plans/ideas for any further books? (If so, please give us a teaser?!)

I’m currently working on my second book. It’s loosely based around a news story from 2005 about a suited man found on a Kent beach with no memory, who was subsequently dubbed the ‘Piano man’.

Thank you Catherine! And if you’d like to get your hands on a free hardback copy of Something In The Water then head over to our instagram.

T&Cs

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• The prize draw will close at 23.59 on 1 August 2018.
• Only one entry per person and only one prize per household.
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Author: Lisa Soeno
Lisa is obsessed with all things interior design. And Cadbury buttons.
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4 thoughts on “Something In The Water: Book Review and Interview with Author Catherine Steadman

  1. What a talented girl! We saw Catherine at The Crown Court in February, where she was in the Agatha Christie production of Witness for the Prosecution. She was fabulous, as were all the cast. I’ve never seen Downton or The Inbetweeners.

    I admire anyone who can write a book especially thrillers and especially someone who is also working in another field and finds time to fit a book in as well! It sounds an intriguing story and I shall definitely look at reading it.

    Fab interview Lisa.

    1. Seriously talented! So inspirational.

      This Agatha Christie production sounds like an interesting one…will have to check it out. x

  2. This sounds great and what fab content for the blog. Really enjoyed reading and would love to hear from more authors xx

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