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Worplesdon Author Has Thriller Published

Published on: 20 Mar, 2022
Updated on: 21 Mar, 2022

Some people would kill for a second chance.

By Alice Fowler 

Just over two years ago, Jacqueline Sutherland sat in the car park of Thorpe Park, writing a chapter of her novel while rain poured down the windscreen and her sons had fun inside. 

Next month – in lightning quick time for the publishing world – Jacqueline’s debut novel, The Coffin Club, will be published. It’s a compelling, page-turning read, with vividly drawn characters and enough twists and turns to keep lovers of psychological suspense guessing until the very end.

Inspiration for the novel came from a sad event – the death of Jacqueline’s best friend. “Her husband told me he had joined a local group for widows and widowers. He affectionately called it “the coffin club”. Talking to him, the idea came to me that some of the people might be there for alternative reasons, and not be quite the way they seemed.”

The Coffin Club’s tale of death, deceit and desire is deliciously compelling.” Sabrina Broadbent, author of You Don’t Have to be Good

From this seed of an idea, Jacqueline created the character of Kat Alexander, a wealthy widow who, after losing her husband in a car accident, moves to the countryside for a new start. Encouraged by her new friend Ginny, owner of the local animal sanctuary, Kat joins “the coffin club” of the title – and embarks on a new relationship in which not all is as it appears.

Jacqueline Sutherland

A busy mother from Worplesdon with four teenage sons, Jacqueline wrote the first draft of her novel on the respected Faber Academy novel-writing course.

“As the course ended, the country went into lockdown. I had the pandemic summer to get the book into the best shape it could be.”

After submitting the novel, she was taken on by an agent who secured her a two-book deal with publisher Oneworld. Her second novel, also psychological (or “domestic”) suspense, comes out next year.

Before becoming an author, Jacqueline had a long career in corporate PR, with senior roles at Basingstoke Council and DIY chain B&Q.  “I’d always written in the background. I wrote a series of children’s books when I was on maternity leave, for my son who’s now sixteen. When I did finally put my writing in the foreground, it took off. I’m thrilled to bits.”

Original, unsettling and full of secrets.” Sarah Clarke, author of A Mother Never Lies

Prior to moving to Worplesdon ten years ago, Jacqueline lived in Farnham and Alton. While the novel is set in a fictional setting outside Cheltenham, eagle-eyed readers may spot some local inspiration. “The park in the book is loosely based on Gostrey Meadow in Farnham. The duck race is also based on a local Farnham event.”

A focal point of the book is the animal sanctuary where Ginny, one of the main characters, works. Surprisingly, perhaps – for her descriptions of the sanctuary leap from the page – Jacqueline says she did not draw inspiration from any of the animal rescue centres around Guildford. “I’ve always grown up with animals. We have two dogs, a cat, bees and chickens now. I’m a great believer that, as is the case for Ginny, animals can mean more than family.”

A few years ago she bought her husband a beehive for his birthday, and her knowledge of bee-keeping feeds into her plot.

Her husband and sons are supportive of her writing. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do all my life. I was 50 when I got a ‘yes’ from an agent. I wanted my boys to see anything is possible if you keep going.”

Jacqueline’s novel The Coffin Club is published by Point Blank, an imprint of Oneworld, on April 7. 

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