Ann-CliffNatalie Meg Evans

In the late 1970s, Natalie Meg Evans ran away from art college in the Midlands for a career in London’s fringe theatre. She spent five years acting, as well as writing her own plays and sketches, before giving it up to work in PR. She now writes full-time from her house in rural north Suffolk, where she lives with her husband, dogs and horses.

Titles: The Dress Thief (Quercus)

The Dress Thief

dressthief41natalielloydresizedAlix Gower has a dream to join the ranks of Coco Chanel to become a designer in the high-stakes world of Parisian haute couture. But Alix also has a secret: she supports her family by stealing designs to create bootlegs for the foreign market. A hidden sketchbook and two minutes inside Hermes is all she needs to create a perfect replica, to be whisked off to production in New York.

Then Alix is given her big break – a chance to finally realize her dream in one of the most prominent Parisian fashion houses – but at the price of copying the breakthrough Spring Collection.

Knowing this could be her only opportunity, Alix accepts the arrangement. But when a mystery from her past resurfaces and a chance meeting has her falling into the arms of a handsome English war reporter, Alix learns that the slightest misstep – or misplaced trust – could be all it takes for her life to begin falling apart at the seams.

Hilary’s editorial advice was invaluable to me in my early attempts at finishing a publishable novel. Two comments from that time have stuck with me through my writing journey.  Firstly, that in my work she detected ‘The whiff of a crime novelist’ which gave me the confidence to add strands of mystery to my writing.  I’d always held back, doubting I could pull off complex plots.  The second comment was simply to tell me that my writing had ‘gained in authority’.  When you are struggling to find your voice, a vote of confidence goes a long way.  I’m sure I’m not the first writer to admit that her advice on structure and plot, while not always what one wants to hear, is invariably spot on.   I’m reminded of her view of one complicated novel I sent to her; ‘You seem to be writing two books here.’ Oh dear, but true. As I was only three chapters in, that advice saved me from wasting months creating a two-headed monster. ~ Natalie Meg Evans