This month for Thomas Cook Book Club, we’re celebrating World Book Night by inviting bestselling author, Dorothy Koomson, to talk to us about her book, The Ice Cream Girls: one of the official World Book Night books for 2019 and inspiration to the hit ITV drama. And here she is, on camera, to tell us all about it…
What’s the book about?
The Ice Cream Girls is an instantly gripping, emotional thriller about two teenage girls, Serena and Poppy. When they were accused of murder, one of them was sent to prison while the other was set free. Now, 20 years later, one of them is doing all she can to clear her name and the other is frantically trying to keep her secrets.
‘Got out hearts racing, our minds boggling and us page-turning like there’s no tomorrow’ Heat
‘Absolutely fantastic. From the first page you’ll be desperate to know exactly what happened’ Sun
Dorothy Koomson meets Thomas Cook! Find out what she has to say…
What inspired you to write The Ice Cream Girls?
The Ice Cream Girls is about two women who were brought together in their teens through their inappropriate relationship with an older man. When he’s killed they’re both put on trial, but one of them is sent to prison for the murder, while the other is set “free”. Twenty years later, the one who went to prison is released, determined to clear her name, while the other, who is married with children, is just as determined to keep her past hidden from everyone she loves.
When I originally had the idea for The Ice Cream Girls I wanted to tell the tale of two people who had very similar lives but were separated for a huge chunk of time, and then were brought back together. I then thought about why their lives had been extremely different and settled on it being because one of them went to prison. And why would a person go to prison for so long? Murder. Then I decided to have them both accused of murder but one go to prison while the other was set free, but only free physically – in her mind she isn’t free. As I thought the idea through, more elements of the story and themes that had to be explored cropped up. I suppose I was inspired by the idea that two people can start in the same place but end up leading very different lives.
Who has had the biggest influence on you as a writer?
There isn’t one person who was heavily influential, but my mother taught me to read and write when I was in nursery, and my older brother used to read to me a lot before I started school so I think this is probably where my love of stories came from. I think my love of hearing and watching stories then grew into me wanting to tell stories. Writers who I admired and read a lot of when I was younger and in the years before I was published include Judy Blume, Jackie Collins, Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, J G Ballard and Terry McMillan.
I think, for me, no one person influenced me because I couldn’t NOT write. Once I had written my first book at 13, I didn’t ever stop writing: I wrote short stories and novels even though I knew they weren’t going to be published. I don’t think I’d have been able to stop writing even if I hadn’t been published.
Which of your novels have you most enjoyed writing?
I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed writing every single one. Every single one of them has challenged me in different ways and, I always try to make the next book better than the last one. At the end of a book I will sometimes be exhausted and emotionally drained. But, you know, I love my job, I adore what I do and that makes creating every book a wonderful experience.
What’s your favourite book of all time?
Eek! I can’t answer that! The books l like change over time. Some are enduring but as I get older and learn more about the world, some of the books I loved back then are not books I love or would call my favourite now. I think books come into your life at different points and how you feel about them will change with time.
What do you see as the perfect destination to get a bit of sun in the spring?
I have all sorts of destinations in mind when I think about getting some sun. Ghana, the Bahamas and Australia are all places I’ve been that have enough sun to warm cold bones.
What type of books do you like to read on a relaxing beach holiday?
I don’t limit myself to one type of book. Being a writer means reading as widely and broadly as I can. Anything with a good narrative, gripping plot and great writing is what I like relax with.
If you were writing a book based abroad, what destination would you choose and why?
My quick reads novel, The Beach Wedding, was set in Ghana. I’d love to return there in my writing because it’s such an incredible place. There is so much to enjoy there – brilliant beaches, amazing food and so much culture to explore. I’m getting a yearning to visit now . . .
What book is currently at the top of your must-read list?
Probably Becoming by Michelle Obama. Technically it’d be at the top of my re-read list, but you know what I mean. I raced through it first time and I’d like to read it again to savour it this time.
A big year for Dorothy Koomson …
This summer there will be a HUGE launch for Dorothy Koomson as she releases her brand new thriller, Tell Me Your Secret. Set to be one of the hottest reads of the summer, it’s definitely one to order for your beach bag this year.
Find out more here.