Best-selling crime thriller author Nicci French has a dual identity as it is the pseudonym of two different authors who write books together. They are Nicci Gerrard and Sean French, a married couple who have both written books previously in under their own names.
However one day they were having a discussion about memories, and realised what a great plot for a book that would make. As they came up with the idea jointly, they decided that they must write the book together, and so Nicci French was born.
The Memory Game
Their first book together was The Memory Game, and such was it’s success that the crime-writing partnership continued. Nicci French have now written twelve standalone books and six so far in the Frieda Klein series. The Frieda Klein books are about a psychoanalyst who is able to solve mysteries through her study and knowledge of the mind.
Their standalone crime thriller Secret Smile has been televised starring David Tennant, who executes the role of charming psychopath Brendan all too convincingly. Another of their books, The Safe House, about an ex-policeman who agrees to take a family whose life is under threat into his home, has also been televised in an excellent drama starring Christopher Eccleston.
Writing a book jointly cannot be easy, but Nicci and Sean have found a method that works well for them. As they explained during an interview with The Daily Express, their ideas come from conversations and arguments. They spend months talking an idea over together until they come up with a plot, and then do extensive research. They write in longhand first, creating timelines and maps if necessary, and then move onto the computer.
They don’t write in the same room as they find each other distracting. Nicci writes in a room at the top of their old rectory in Suffolk and Sean has a room downstairs, as well as a shed in the garden.
They don’t have a set routine for writing. One of them will start the book, either a section or several chapters and then email it to the other. The other will then revise the work, continue with the next section of the book and then email it back for revisions and more writing.
They find that although they write in a solitary manner, having someone to talk over ideas and plot hitches with is very valuable.
The Voice of Nicci French
They both feel it is important that no individual style is apparent, so that the voice of Nicci French is what comes through.
Sean and Nicci integrate their own individual writing styles very well, as the reader cannot tell that the book has been written by two different authors and are usually surprised to hear that Nicci French is a joint enterprise. Friends of their’s do try to guess who wrote which section and often get it wrong.
Clearly their method of writing is working for them as they have been working this way for over eighteen years and have become increasingly respected and well known.
Nicci and Sean’s books feature ‘real’ people with the doubts and fears that all people have (rather than the type of ‘slightly unbelievable’ hero who is good at everything) who find themselves in a stressful situation and whose subsequent thoughts and actions drive the plot forward.
Their books have been very popular with the reading public and critics alike, largely because they concoct interesting plots, concentrate very intensively on character, and write with style and pace. Once you begin a Nicci French book, you don’t want to put it down until you have reached the very last page.
There is only one installment left to write in the Frieda Klein series, but hopefully they will not stop there, and there will be many more crime thrillers to come.
Nicci French Facts
Born: 1958 in Worcestershire
Lives: Suffolk & London
First Novel with Sean: The Memory Game
Most Recent novel with Sean: Saturday Requiem
Career: English teacher, editor, freelance journalist
Married: To Sean French
Family: 1 son & 3 daughters
Born: 1959 in Bristol
Lives: Suffolk & London
First Novel with Nicci: The Memory Game
Most Recent novel with Nicci: Saturday Requiem
Career: Journalist, editor
Married: To Nicci Gerrard
Family: 2 daughters