Ask the Author: Gilly Macmillan

What would you like readers to know about you? 

That I became a writer because my first love is reading.

What is your book about for those who haven’t read it? 

The Nanny is about three generations of one family.  Jo, her mother Lady Virginia Holt and Jo’s daughter Ruby, are newly reunited and struggling to get along together when they are faced with a situation that quickly becomes terrifying. 

Jocelyn loves her nanny more than her own mother – until the night that the nanny disappears. Jo is seven years old when it happens and never gets over the loss. Now, thirty years later, Jo is returning to her family home with her daughter in tow – just as human remains are pulled out of the house’s lake. Then there’s a knock on the door. And a woman claiming to be her nanny stands outside. Is she who she says she is? Can she be trusted? And what really happened on that fateful night all those years ago?  


What has been your inspiration for writing it? 

When I was considering what to write, I was talking to my agent and we were discussing how many thrillers (at least one of mine included) use the device of a missing person as central to the plot. We wondered if we could flip that and have a person returning to a life they had once been part of to trigger the action, and thought that a nanny could be the perfect character because nannies occupy such an intimate role at the heart of the family they work for. They are in a position to learn about the most private, and possibly secret, things. They have the most vulnerable members of the family in their care and if they wanted to, they could manipulate those around them. It makes me shudder just writing this down now! But it’s terrific material for a thriller.

What was your favorite scene or part of the book to write? 

I love starting books and discovering my new characters. My favourite scene in The Nanny comes late in the book, at the denouement, so I can’t describe what happens in it, but it was exciting and satisfying to write.

What books or authors inspired you to become a writer? 

I think every single book I’ve read has inspired me in some way, but most of all I love books that make me turn pages. They can be from any genre, I’m not fussy, in fact I read very widely, and what I want is to lose myself in the story. Whether that’s because of plot or character or something else, I don’t mind. Specific authors who inspired me include Gabriel Garcia Marquez, James Lee Burke, Linwood Barclay, and so many more.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book? 

Be persistent because writing a novel is a long game, the process of publishing it even longer. Be realistic because if you want your book to be published you must understand that you are seeking to enter a business, so it’s important to understand the market. No matter how good you believe your work to be, it won’t be bought by a traditional publisher if they don’t think they can sell it on to readers. Be thick-skinned because you will be faced with rejection and or criticism at times along the way. Be humble because there is always room for improvement in your craft. And hold your nerve! It’s easy to lose confidence along the way. It happens to pretty much all of us, no matter how many books we’ve published. 


Author photo: © Céline Nieszawer/Leextra

You can find out more about me and my novels at my website: 


On Instagram: @gillymacmillan 

On Facebook: 

On Twitter: @gillymacmillan 


My next novel TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH (which features a crime writer as the main character) will be out in September 2020. 

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