There’s nothing better than getting stuck into a good book, right? 🤓
That’s why we’ve teamed up with Hodder & Stoughton, one of Britain’s leading publishers of fiction and non-fiction to bring you the TfL Book Club! 🎉
About the TfL Book Club
The TfL Book Club is a monthly ebook subscription service. For just £4.99 per month (that can be cancelled at any time, but we’re sure you won’t want to leave! 😉), Book Club members will be given one credit which can be used on one of three titles every month. 📚
As Book Club members, you will have access to your very own library page within the Book Club app that will hold all previous choices. You can also add other Hodder & Stoughton ebooks to your library using a special TfL discount which will be made available within the app. Even if you choose to leave the club, your books will always be available online and offline.
As well as receiving the ebooks themselves at a market-leading discount, you will get additional benefits to being part of the TfL Book Club, such as sneak peeks at upcoming books, competitions and discounts on other titles. 🥳
Sound good? Then find out how to sign up and get lost in a book on the go! Make sure to let us know what you think of the books by joining the conversation using #TfLBookClub.
Hear from one of the first authors in the Book Club
Sabine Durrant is the fantastic author of Sun Damage, one of the first three books available in the TfL Book Club. We chatted to her all about her career, novels and love of London ❤️
You began your career as a journalist and you have been a features editor at the Guardian and a literary editor at the Sunday Times. What prompted you to become a novelist?
I loved working in newspapers, writing and editing and being part of a team, but I’d always wanted to write a novel. When I was on maternity leave with my second child, I thought I’d have a quiet go without anyone noticing. I sent the first few chapters to an agent and when several publishers wanted to publish it, I took the gamble to leave my job and write full time. I’m so thrilled I did; it’s a quieter life, but I’ve loved every minute of it.
You have written five other literary thrillers before this: Under Your Skin, Remember Me This Way, Lie With Me, Take Me In and Finders, Keepers. Do you have a favourite among your books, or one you most enjoyed writing?
Books, it seems, aren’t like children – it is possible to have favourites, and also least favourites. Two were very hard to write and are always associated in my mind with the struggle of trying to make them work. The other four I’ve loved writing but Lie With Me will probably always be my favourite. It’s in the voice of a male narrator, someone not immediately likeable, and I found it incredibly liberating to take on such a different persona. Until then, when I was writing I used to ask myself what would I do or think in this situation; but writing LWM I realised that was irrelevant. It was all in the character. It took me three books to work that out. Writing is like acting more than anything. The characters tell you what to do. That book changed how I wrote.
Finders, Keepers, your fifth adult novel, draws on the streets of south London as its setting. Have you always lived in London? Do you have a favourite place in the city?
I moved to south London from Somerset with my mother when I was six. I feel like a Londoner, and I love the pavements, cafes, shops and the people. I love knowing all the bus routes and all the right tube stops, but maybe the countryside is in my bones because all my favourite spots in the city are actually green spaces: the towpath at Putney or Hampstead Heath or Brockwell Park or the little community garden I’ve just discovered behind Charing Cross Road. I walk my dog every morning on Wandsworth Common – where I set several books including Under Your Skin – and there is a moment when you come out of some woods into a playing field with a cricket pitch ahead and the sky opens out; that’s my favourite spot of all.
Several of your novels are set abroad. Do you travel to research, and do you enjoy travelling?
I love travelling and I have travelled a few times for research, but never in ideal circumstances. I went to Corfu one September and it the rain was so torrential I hardly left my hotel room. It wasn’t quite the baking Ionian island I had in mind! Sun Damage is set in the south of France, on the coast and in Provence, and I had intended to research extensively – but Covid got in the way of that. I spent a lot of time on Google instead!
Do you have a writing routine? Can you write anywhere?
I don’t have an easy answer to that as it varies enormously. At certain stages, usually about two chapters in, I can usually write anywhere. I remember going to year 3 show at my daughter’s primary school and sitting on the stone steps outside the hall in the interval, desperately trying to get the words down. Other times, when it is stickier, I need perfect quiet and an empty house. Noise cancelling headphones have changed my life.
Do you plan your storylines in advance or go where the story takes you?
I try and plan as much as I can, even though I hate planning. I find it slow and frustrating – partly because once I have an initial idea, I’m itching to dive it and partly because when you are planning, you’re basically just working your way around problems and roadblocks. I once met a thriller writer in India who had been an asset manager and he plotted down to the nth degree using spreadsheets and flow charts. I’m envious of that sort of certitude. I know the direction of things will change as my characters get my skin, but I try to force myself to be as detailed as I can in my initial ‘Plot’ file, because I know, if I don’t, I’ll be in trouble later.
What advice would you give to other aspiring writers?
It’s the advice I was given myself: write, write and keep writing. Open a file or a notebook and try and put something down every day. Give yourself a word deadline and meet it. Think of it as ‘draft 0’ and don’t imagine anyone else is going to read it. Don’t show anything until you have finished. You should show it to people you trust and definitely take their advice on board, but not until you have reached the end.
Your novels are widely acclaimed for their brilliant characterisation. Where do your characters come from and how do they evolve?
I often have the idea for a character mulling away at the back of my mind but it’s only when I come up with a relationship that they earn a place in a novel. That’s when I get excited and the sparks begin to fly. I used to do a weekly interview at the Guardian, and I’d meet people from all walks of life – politics, theatre, sport – often with only an hour to work out what to say about them, and I think that gave me an excellent grounding in observation, in picking up the telling details. Character is everything, I think. Without good characters, even the best plots fall apart.
Sun Damage is very visual and would make an incredible film or TV series. Do you have a dream cast?
My dream cast would be a bunch of unknowns who are made household names by being in Sun Damage! In series after series after series…
What was the last thing you read and watched on TV? What would you recommend?
I’ve just read Vladimir by Julia May Jonas and really recommend it. It’s set in a college town in East Coast America about two married college professors – one of whom is under investigation for inappropriate relationships with his students. It’s funny and edgy and razor sharp about middle age and marriage. TV wise I’ve just finished series three of Sneaky Pete (on Amazon), in which an ex-con takes on the life of a former cellmate. It’s about families and seat of the pants grifting and what you learn when you pretend to be someone you’re not. It has parallels with Sun Damage in that way, though it’s very different.
What are you writing next?
I’m doing the initial research for another thriller about a mother and her estranged daughter. It’s set in London, Paris and Tuscany and I’m hoping to do some research this summer…
Join the conversation
Once you have signed up, make sure to join the conversation over on our social media channels using #TfLBookClub!