Meet Catherine Cooper author of The Chalet

 It's cold outside. Some areas of the UK have had a smattering of snow. With the December chills upon is it's the perfect time to stay inside, put the fire on and hunker down with debut author Catherine Cooper's Sunday Times bestselling novel The Chalet.

Buy the ebook from Amazon - as of 9th Dec it's only 99p! - or the paperback from all good booksellers plus from our Thriller Women list at bookshop.orgNB: if you buy books through this link we may earn a commission from, whose fees support independent bookshops.  

With Catherine herself being an experienced skier we had lots of questions to ask her!

The cover of The Chalet paperback

TW: Congratulations on The Chalet becoming a Sunday Times bestseller. Can you tell us about the story and where the inspiration came from?

CC: Thank you! In 1998 two men go out skiing in bad weather - one doesn't make it back. In 2020, a group of people stay in a luxury chalet in the same resort. It's for the reader to work out what the connections are, and who is there for sinister motives. I'm a very keen skier as well as an avid thriller reader and had never read a book which combined the two. Plus the mountains are a brilliant setting for a thriller - so much beauty, and yet also danger.

TW: What do you think it is about murder mysteries that readers love?

CC: Gosh - good question! Perhaps the challenge of working out what has happened? The fact that they are usually page-turners with a lot going on? They're a great form of escapism - I often find myself puzzling over a book I'm reading even when I'm away from it.

TW: The book has two separate timelines. How difficult was that to write and why did you use this structural device?

CC: It wasn't particularly difficult as I wrote both at the same time, not one and then the other. I used this technique because I always enjoy books with several timelines myself - I think it is easier to keep the readers' interest as you can flit between the two. Plus two timelines make the book almost like two stories so it is easier to reach the word count! I tend to write quite concisely - always have done - and it's easy for my books to end up too short. I don't want to pad it out for the sake of it, obviously, so I find it easier to have a lot going on.

TW: How did you go about getting published?

CC: Long story alert - I wrote what was then called a chick lit book back in 2002 and got my first agent. She loved it but sadly the publishers didn't go for it. I then had babies and didn't really write much fiction for a few years. I got back into writing around 2010 or so when I started writing YA books. By now my original agent had retired but I found a new one, Gaia Banks at Shiel Land, who I am still with. The YA books had some good feedback but weren't ultimately published. Then I wrote The Chalet, which was submitted by my agent and pre-empted by Phoebe Morgan at Harper Collins four days later.

TW; It's a very difficult year to publish your first novel with lockdown due to Covid-19. How has this affected you and what have you done professionally to adapt to it?

CC: As a freelance journalist used to working from home and living deep in the French countryside in many ways my writing life isn't all that different. As a travel journalist I usually travel quite a bit - obviously that hasn't happened lately so in many ways it has been easier to have a writing routine. Book 2 was written almost entirely during the first lockdown when I had little other work and a lot of the usual day to day distractions such as driving the children just weren't there, so in some ways it made getting on with writing easier. 

I've always been a social media fan so I've carried on with that - not sure what I would do without it. One way I have adapted is by finally mastering Zoom, though in all honesty I am still not a great fan. I was hoping to have a big launch party for The Chalet but obviously that couldn't happen - in the end I had a cake made that looked like the book and simply had fireworks and champagne (and a lot of cake) at home with the family. Hopefully I can have a proper launch for book 2!

TW: The blurb on the back of The Chalet says the novel is perfect for fans of Ruth Ware and Lucy Foley. Who are your favourite writers and which novels in particular have inspired you?

CC: I've been a huge Agatha Christie fan since I was a child so I'd probably say her. I'm an admirer of both Ruth Ware and Lucy Foley, and also Erin Kelly.

TW; Readers love a good plot twist and red herring. How do you go about plotting them without giving the game away?

CC: Erm...I'm not much of a planner. I tend to just write it as it comes and then sometimes have to go back to put in subtle clues or take parts out which make things too obvious. It is a tricky balance, but I think it's important that the clues are there if people are reading carefully (or were to go back and reread).

TW: Can you give us any teasers about book 2?

CC: It's called The Chateau and is also a thriller largely based in France. 

Quick fire questions:

TW: Mulled wine or G&T for apres ski?
CC: Depends on the weather! I'd also add a nice cold beer as an option.

TW: Ski slopes or Caribbean beach?

CC: Ski slopes definitely - no question.

TW: Hardback or paperback?

CC:  Paperback - I read in bed and travel a lot so a hardback is too bulky. I actually mainly read on Kindle, though I enjoy a paperback now and again.

Thanks Catherine, we're looking forward to The Chateau being published.

Photo of Catherine Cooper wearing skiing clothes

More about The Chalet

French Alps, 1998:

Two young men ski into a blizzard... but only one returns.

20 years later:

Four people connected to the missing man find themselves in that same resort. Each has a secret. Two may have blood on their hands. One is a killer-in-waiting.

Someone knows what really happened that day.

And somebody will pay.


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