Having opened its doors in 1732, Bertrand do Chiado in Lisbon – the oldest bookshop in the world – has seen its fair share of illustrious clientele over the years. The latest of these was our very own C. J. Tudor, who spent an afternoon there last week for the launch of the Portuguese edition of her latest book Levaram Annie Thorne (The Taking of Annie Thorne).
While she was there, Tudor talked about her path towards becoming a Sunday Times bestseller.
Never a brilliant student, she left school at 16, and always a keen writer, it took several decades for her to stumble upon the idea for her bestselling book, The Chalk Man. On her daughter’s second birthday, someone offered up a box of chalk and everyone went out to the street to draw multicoloured stick figures onto the pavement. This image of her street covered with a variety of ghostly chalk figures planted a seed in her mind and from there the book began to take shape.
Describing her latest novel, she said “If you [loved] The Chalk Man I think you will like The Taking of Annie Thorne – because it is even creepier!”
When Joe Thorne was fifteen, his little sister, Annie, disappeared. At the time, Joe thought it was the worst thing in the world that could ever happen. And then she came back.
Now Joe has returned to the village where he grew up, to work as a teacher at the failing Arnhill Academy. Not an act of altruism, but desperation. Joe has bad debts – and bad people – he needs to escape. He also has an anonymous email: I know what happened to your sister. It’s happening again.
But coming back to the place he grew up, means facing the people he grew up with, and the things they did. Five friends: Joe, Stephen Hurst, Marie Gibson, Nick Fletcher and Chris Manning. They were the five who were there that night. Something they haven’t spoken about in 25 years.
Coming back means opening old wounds, and confronting old enemies and Joe is about to discover that places, like people, have secrets. The deeper you go, the darker they get.
And sometimes, you should never come back.
C. J. Tudor lives in Sussex, England with her partner and daughter. Over the years she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voiceover artist and dog-walker. She is now thrilled to be able to write full-time, and doesn’t miss chasing wet dogs through muddy fields all that much.