Bestselling author Eleanor Moran has penned a second novel starring high-flying psychotherapist Mia Cosgrove. Too Close for Comfort is a chilly and pacey thriller about a tight knit and destructive group of friends. Here, she shares the books that matter most to her.
What’s currently on your bedside table?
I’ve been reading the new Liane Moriarty, Truly, Madly, Guilty. It’s about a group of friends who all end up feeling responsible for a terrible accident during a drunken suburban barbecue. She’s an Australian author, whose last book, Big Little Lies is being made into an HBO mini-series with Reese Witherspoon.
I think she writes domestic noir incredibly well, with relatable women where things accidentally go too far. Her characters are always real, whereas I find in some big thrillers, they’re just there to service the plot.
I also have More Letters of Note on my bedside—I love being able to dip into some amazing fragment of someone’s life. A particular favourite is when Kurt Vonnegut tells a group of schoolchildren that he rarely ventures out because in old age he looks like an iguana but they must find ways to make their souls grow by doing something creative, even if it’s making a face out of mashed potato.
Which book would you recommend to your closest friend right now?
I would suggest she reads Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter because, well, it’s beautiful! I think they’re making it into a film, so she ought to hurry up. It’s set on the Italian coast, where a gorgeous, narcissistic starlet turns up and takes residence with a gauche, smitten innkeeper, and in present day Hollywood, where the after-effects are still rippling out. It’s about lost chances and unrequited love, and even has a cameo from a drunken Richard Burton. I adore it. How could she not?
Which book/s are you planning to take on your next journey?
When I’m travelling, I love something I can dip into. With my TV work, I go to America quite a bit, and a transatlantic flight requires a lot of reading matter. Essay collections and memoirs are fabulous, the more confessional the better.
I recently enjoyed the Amy Schumer book, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo, which was funny but also wince-making in places. She’s very honest about her parents’ gruesome divorce, her romantic misadventures and her father’s struggle with multiple sclerosis.
Next on the list—Carly Simon’s recent autobiography, Boys in the Trees. I love her, but I’m also a huge James Taylor fan, and it charts their tumultuous marriage as the king and queen of Seventies pop.
What is your latest book Too Close for Comfort about?
My heroine Mia is a young psychotherapist who gets a desperate call from her best friend Lysette, telling her that Sarah, a young mum in her chocolate box English village, has killed herself. She rushes to Lysette’s side, but, when a second death rocks the community, the police start to think there are darker forces at play and ask Mia to support the investigation.
Why is the seemingly sweet group of mums who surrounded Sarah so reluctant to share what they know about their troubled friend? And how dangerous is it for Mia to refuse to take no for an answer?
The book is about much more than crime: it’s an exploration of how competitive women can be with each other, and how striving for Instagram-friendly perfection can rob us of feeling like our authentic selves—messy and flawed and loveable.
Therapy has been a great support to me in my life after a difficult childhood, so I love using Mia to help demystify it for people and make it a less scary prospect!
Do you discuss your work-in-progress with anyone?
With my TV career, I’m lucky to have some incredible story geniuses in my social scene. My friend Anne is Head of Drama for Sky, and she always has brilliant notes and suggestions. Another friend, Sophia (who is now reading Beautiful Ruins), who is an amazing therapist, reads the scenes where Mia’s in the room with clients and advises me on what’s realistic.
I like Mia to cross the line sometimes, and really get down in the dirt with the people she’s helping, but I also want her process to be authentic.
Which book made you want to write?
I grew up obsessed with Enid Blyton—I know, she’s not very literary—but I was a bookish, lonely only child, and those school stories made me feel like I too could have a gang.
As a teenager I adored Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca. I can remember racing to the end, tears streaming down my face at this doomed marriage. I had a distant father, and I think her love for this emotionally repressed man spoke to me.
I suppose I learnt early how we can lose ourselves in the world an author paints, and bring our own experience to it. I love it when people contact me and tell me they’ve enjoyed my books.
Eleanor Moran is an author and executive producer for TV drama. During a decade at the BBC she worked on a huge range of shows from Spooks to Rome to Being Human. She was also involved in the award winning biopics, including Enid – about Enid Blyton, Eleanor’s favourite novelist as a child, (starring Helena Bonham Carter), Shirley (Bassey) and one of her all-time literary idols, Barbara Cartland.
Too Close For Comfort by Eleanor Moran is out now, published by Simon & Schuster, £7.99 in paperback original
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