I first went skiing aged 14,on a school trip, and instantly fell in love with it. Not just the skiing itself, but also the mountain scenery, the fresh air, the cheese fondue, the apres-ski and the general atmosphere in the resort. A few years later at university I joined the ski club and went as often as I could, and then afterwards I spent a ski season in the French Alps. Later I persuaded my non-skiing husband to learn to ski and then as soon as our children were old enough, they were on skis too. In 2009, we moved to France, one part of the reason being I wanted to be able to ski more often. I’m also now a travel journalist and have been lucky enough to review some extremely luxurious properties over the years, including several in ski resorts.
I’ve been writing fiction on and off since I was a child and am an avid reader of thrillers – I started with Agatha Christie at primary school and never really stopped.
The mountains are a natural setting for a thriller, beautiful and dangerous, with a transient population, both people on holiday but also people who actually work there – neither tend to stay long. You find a real mix of people in the mountains, from ski bums living in vans and eking out a living where they can to immensely wealthy people staying in high end chalets and dining out in Michelin-starred restaurants.
I had never found a thriller set in a ski resort, so figured why shouldn’t I be the one to write it? And so The Chalet was born. As it turned out, I wasn’t the only one who had this idea, there were at least three other snowy thrillers published this winter.
I wasn’t sure if people would like it – after all, not everyone likes skiing as much as me! So I was careful not to include too much actual skiing, focusing instead on the action and the relationships between the characters. I also wrote quite a lot about the luxurious elements of the chalet and most readers seemed to enjoy this – it’s entirely fictional, but it’s the kind of place I’d loved to stay (though probably not with these people!) and is inspired by various elements of luxurious hotels I’ve been lucky enough to visit in the past.
A few weeks after it was published in November last year, my editor messaged me to say it had hit number five in the Sunday Times Bestseller chart. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve loved hearing readers’ thoughts about it on social media and in their reviews. My first contract with Harper Collins was for two books – The Chalet and The Chateau which is out later this year, and I’ve just signed another for two more, which will also be travel-related. I now get to spend most of my time writing fiction, and I feel very lucky.
For more information about Catherine and her books, she’s on Insta at @catherinecooperjournalist, Twitter @catherinecooper, Facebook @catherinecooperauthor and her website is www.catherinecooperauthor.com The Chalet is available here.