Harriet Walker is the fashion editor of The Times (UK) and author of The New Girl. She has been a journalist for more than a decade and has also written for Vogue, Elle, and Harper’s Bazaar, among others. Born in Glasgow and raised in Sheffield, Walker studied English at Trinity College, Cambridge, and now lives in South London with her husband and daughter.
Q. The Wedding Night is a page-burning thriller set primarily in the South of France. What inspired the story?
Harriet: I heard a story over brunch one day of a bride who used her cancelled wedding venue as a holiday villa because it was too late get her money back. I couldn’t stop thinking about her: how strange it would be to arrive there having broken things off; how awkward the friends who accompanied her might feel. What if they turned up to find everything for the cancelled ceremony had been unexpectedly set up anyway? Who might have done that and why? Throw in enough free champagne to fuel a wedding reception, and I knew it would make for a twisty, paranoid ride.
Q. And did you get to visit any chateaux as research?
Harriet: I’m lucky to have grown up with two Francophile academics for parents, so we spent almost every holiday in France. The Oratoire de St Eris is based on a few of the rambling Provencal farmhouses we stayed in over the years, with a dash of ancien regime extravagance inspired by the castles of the Loire Valley. The turrets of Chambord, the bridge at Chenonceau and all the dappled, dusty town squares in between – I tried so hard to recreate the sights and sounds as I was writing. I hope The Wedding Night delivers as much escapism as it does suspense.
Q. Your debut hit, The New Girl explored cyber-stalking, paranoia, and ambition. What themes does The Wedding Night tackle?
Harriet: Like The New Girl, The Wedding Night looks at how much control women really have over their lives in a world where so many relationships are now conducted remotely. It’s about how we relate to other people in the digital era and how friendships change over the years. Is being constantly in touch online altering our perception of how well we know each other? Has the internet made us more trusting or more suspicious?
Q. You’re well-known as the fashion editor of The Times. What place does fashion have in your stories?
Harriet: In The New Girl, I wrote about characters who worked in a similar fashion milieu to my own but there isn’t such an obvious link in The Wedding Night. I always consider what my characters might be wearing in any given scene, but it’s more that my experiences as a journalist – the privilege of having travelled to some astonishingly beautiful (and luxurious!) places and met all kinds of fantastically fabulous types – inform the sort of stories I enjoy creating.
Q. What do you read for pleasure?
Harriet: I’m pretty broad in my tastes but domestic noir, psychological suspense and historical fiction tend to dominate – I tend to choose stories with women’s lives and experiences at their core. Recently I loved We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz and The Mistake by Katie McMahon. I’m a big Liane Moriarty fan too.
Q. What are you working on now?
Harriet: Right now, I’m working on convincing my six-month-old son to sleep through the night – once he does, I’ll be able to concentrate properly on writing a first draft of my next novel!
Thanks for having me.
Harriet Walker's Latest
When a destination wedding is cancelled, a group of university friends travel to a luxurious villa in the South of France, determined to cheer up the bride-that-was and make the best of a pre-paid holiday.
But after a wild night of drunken revelry, the friends awake to find themselves with no memory of the last twelve hours – and surrounded by the traces of a wedding that wasn’t supposed to have happened . . .
As last night’s hangover wears off, the guests find themselves with more questions than answers.
Did a wedding take place?
Who is responsible for an ominous message in the guest book, congratulating the happy couple?
Why does the would-be bride seem so afraid?
And who is the mysterious, shadowy figure who seems to be watching the villa?
Each guest is hiding something. But what? And can they piece together the events of the wedding night before it is too late?
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