Meet Tammy Cohen Author Of The Wedding Party

We're delighted to welcome Tammy Cohen as this fortnight's Thriller Women guest. She tells us about her latest novel The Wedding Party, her writing bugbear, her road to becoming a published writer, her top tip for writers and the book that's on her bedside table ... plus much more!

Download the ebook of The Wedding Party from Amazon (at the time of publication it's on a 99p deal) or buy the paperback from Thriller Women's list at NB: if you buy books through this link we may earn a commission from, whose fees support independent bookshops.

Front cover of the novel The Wedding Party by Tammy Cohen

TW: Congratulations on The Wedding Party, which, as it's set on an idyllic Greek island, is perfect late summer reading! What gave you the idea and why do you think weddings are such great dramatic fodder?

TC: Thank you! After finishing my last book, Stop at Nothing, which was a claustrophobic domestic thriller set in my own North London neighbourhood, I wanted to writesomething escapist and glamorous and set somewhere far away with stunning scenery I could lose myself in while writing. Little did I know when I began the book in the summer of 2019 that I’d be finishing it in lockdown, gazing out at a plane-free sky, forbidden to travel on a local bus let alone a train.

Weddings provide the perfect backdrop for a novelist - a diverse group of characters brought together in a setting outside of their comfort zone and plied with inhibition-killing booze. Family members reunited, with all the attendant risk of unresolved tensions flooding to the surface. A day where all normal conventions are set aside and, no matter how precise the planning, anything might still happen.

Planning a wedding is high pressure – all those decisions, all that money. No wonder sometimes the bride – and/or groom – don’t behave as well as they might. No wonder sometimes tempers become dangerously frayed. With a destination wedding, the stakes are higher still. The guests have had to take annual leave and arrange child care and book expensive flights. All to arrive at a location they might not have chosen for themselves, together with people they might usually go out of their way to avoid. Worst of all, there’s no escape.

Family, financial tensions, alcohol – a destination wedding is like a pressure cooker, where the lid could blow at any time. What author could resist?

TW: The novel is written from different perspectives and also includes police transcripts and journal entries. How did you decide to write it in this way and why did you do so?

TC: Most of the novel is told chronologically, following the events of the wedding from tart to finish from the point of view of four of the main characters. The transcripts and journals break things up, throwing in excerpts from different timelines and allowing us a glimpse into the state of mind of some of the other characters.

TW: Where does the inspiration for your characters come from and are you more character or plot driven?

TC: I am very much character driven. I start with a vague idea of theme and setting but it’s not until I start writing the characters that I work out what the book is about and where it’s going. The characters drive the plot. Usually my characters are an amalgamation of different people I know or have come across, but occasionally I’ll lift them entirely from real life. Our first glimpse of Vivian from The Wedding Party is of her washing her breasts in the sink at Kefalonia airport and she was entirely based on a woman I saw doing the same thing on a ferry from Mykonos to Paros. As soon as I saw her I knew I wanted to write about her.

TW: Fascinating! The novel has Agatha Christie-style whodunnit undertones. Which crime/thriller writers do you admire and why?

TC: There are too many to list! Just for starters, I love Patricia Highsmith and Barbara Vine and when it comes to contemporary writers I really rate Fiona Cummins, Lisa Jewell, Ruth Ware, CL Taylor, Amanda Jennings, Sabine Durrant. Also Louise Candlish is such an elegant writer. She tends to open with a really arresting premise and then unravels her plot so skilfully and plausibly I’m always studying her books to ind out how she does it.

TW: You've enjoyed a long and successful career. What did you do before becoming a novelist and how long did it take you to become published?

TC: After a brief stint teaching in Spain and then working as a secretary for a marketing magazine, I started writing features for women’s magazines and submitting them until finally I got lucky and had one published. After that I worked as a freelance features writer for many years, interspersed with a few stints on staff at various women’s magazines. But I always dreamed of writing fiction. 

Over the years I started countless novels and always gave up around the 10,000 word mark. Then in 2010 I sent one of my fledgling novels to an agent who told me she thought it had promise, but she couldn’t consider representing me until I’d written the whole thing. That gave me the boost I needed to finish it in four months and The Mistress’s Revenge was published in 2011. You could say it took me twenty-five years to be an overnight success.

TW: You have also been published under the names Tamar Cohen for your contemporary dramas and Rachel Rhys for your historical thrillers. Why did the publishing industry require you to use different names and do you ever forget who you are?

TC: When my editor found out my real name is Tamar, she suggested I use that instead of Tammy as she thought Tammy sounded American. Then after a few books, the sales team fed back that people weren’t sure how to pronounce Tamar and they felt that could be a drawback, so we switched to Tammy. It was my choice to use a pseudonym for my historical fiction. I thought it would save me from irate Amazon reviewers who’d picked up my new book expecting murderous twists, but having the two separate names also makes it easier for me to write in the two very distinct genres. When I’m writing as Rachel Rhys I write in a completely different way, which is very liberating.

TW What's your top writing bugbear?

TC: The idea that characters need to be likeable in order for readers to like the book is something I find hard to understand. Some of my favourite fictional characters are deeply, deeply unpleasant. In my genre we focus on characters in crisis, and people in crisis are rarely their best selves. They’re panicked and impulsive and selfish and demanding. Also, writing ‘nice’ characters is dull. Give me someone complicated and spiky any day.

TW: We agree! Tell us about what you're working on now. 

TC: I’ve just finished a Rachel Rhys, set in a haunted castle in Florence in 1927. Now I’m starting my next psychological thriller which opens with a body being discovered in a shared beach hut off season in a British seaside town.

Quick fire questions:

TW: Huge wedding on an island or small registry office do? 

TC: IF I’m the one getting married, small registry do. If I’m a guest, huge island wedding every time.

TW: Favourite time of the day to write? 

TC: Mid morning – after I’ve had a couple of hours browsing fantasy properties on RightMove and am sufficiently disgusted with myself to guilt-write.

TW: Are you a plotter or pantser? 

TC: By nature I’m a pantser and most of my books have been written that way, but I’m trying to train myself to plot at least part of the book, so that I avoid writing with that hard knot of panic that accompanies the latter stages of a non-plotted book.

TW: Book on your bedside table? 

TC: John Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies, which is excellent so far.

TW: Your top tip for writers? 

TC: At some point during the writing of your book you WILL hear an internal voice telling you this is the worst book ever written. The only difference between a writer and a non-writer is the ability to ignore that voice and power on regardless.

Thanks Tammy!

Photo of Tammy Cohen, copyright Johnny Ring.

More about The Wedding Party:

Till death do us part ...

Lucy has dreamt of her wedding day for as long as she can remember.

And now the day is almost here. Her nearest and dearest are gathered on an idyllic Greek island and she just knows it's going to be perfect. It has to be.

But even the best-laid plans can go horribly wrong. Why are her parents behaving so strangely? Why won't the rather odd lady from the airport stop hanging around? Who is the silent stranger her sister brought as a plus-1?

And then they find the body.

It's going to be a day to remember.


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