Author and journalist

About Clémence Michallon

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Author photo credit: Gabrielle Malewski

I'm an author and an award-nominated journalist at The Independent, based in New York.

My debut thriller THE QUIET TENANT will be published in 2023 by Knopf in the US and Little, Brown in the UK. Rights have sold in 30 territories. You can find out more about the book here.

I also wrote a novel in French, which was published in 2020. It's about a female bodybuilder tasked with managing her sister's bakery. Really, it's about bodies and the ways in which we try to feel at home in them. You can find out more about it here.

I studied political science and journalism at Sciences Po in Paris, as well as journalism at City, University of London, and I have an MS degree from Columbia Journalism School.

The Quiet Tenant

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A pulse-pounding psychological thriller about a serial killer hiding in plain sight, narrated by the women in his life: his 13-year-old daughter, his girlfriend—and the one victim he has spared.

About The Quiet Tenant

Aidan Thomas is a hard-working family man and a respected member of his community. He’s also a kidnapper and serial killer who has murdered eight women. And there’s a ninth he has earmarked for death, a woman he’s renamed Rachel, imprisoned in a backyard shed fearing for her life.

When Aidan’s wife dies, he and his 13-year-old daughter Cecilia are forced to move. Aidan has no choice but to bring Rachel along, introducing her to Cecilia as a “family friend” who needs a place to stay. After five years of captivity, surely Rachel is too brainwashed to attempt to escape. But Rachel is a fighter and survivorand recognizes Cecilia might just be the lifeline she has waited for all these years.

As Rachel tests the boundaries of her new living situation, she begins to form a tenuous connection with Cecilia. And when Emily, a local restaurant owner, develops a crush on the handsome widower, she finds herself drawn into Rachel and Cecilia’s orbit, too. Told through the perspectives of Rachel, Cecilia, and Emily, The Quiet Tenant explores the psychological impact of Aidan’s crimes on the women in his life–and the bonds between those women that give them the strength to fight back. 


“Clémence Michallon has written a classic on her first try. The Quiet Tenant is a daring and completely satisfying . . . bravura feat of storytelling . . . Who in her right mind would attempt a novel utilizing the first, second, and third-person? And then have the skill to actually pull it off.” — James Patterson, #1 best-selling author

“The Quiet Tenant is a fascinating inversion of the serial killer thriller, a story that challenges some of the genre’s most prevalent and pervasive tropes through the eyes of the powerful women involved. In the process—with razor-sharp plotting and hypnotic prose—Michallon has created an unforgettable debut.” —Alex Segura, author of Secret Identity
“The Quiet Tenant is a humane thriller, one that doesn’t shy from asking the most difficult questions of its characters and its readers, and dares, ultimately, hopeful answers. Intelligent and suspenseful, I couldn’t stop turning the pages.” —Paul Tremblay, author of The Cabin at the End of the World
“The Quiet Tenant is an absolutely brilliant, incredibly delicious, edge-of-your-seat thriller.  Imagine Jodi Picoult meets Jeffery Deaver and then watch as Clémence Michallon exceeds every one of your expectations.  She’s that good.  The book is that good.  And the ending is a killer!” —Brad Thor, author of Dead Fall
“Clémence Michallon’s The Quiet Tenant is a spell-binding Trojan horse of a  novel, bracing and beguiling. A dangerous man and his unforgivable crimes are its seeming center but, in Michallon’s nimble hands, the novel soon reveals itself to be a story of female strength, cunning, depth, and power.” —Megan Abbott, author of You Will Know Me
“Clémence Michallon has managed to reimagine the serial killer novel, delivering all (and frankly, more) of the expected suspense and psychological tension, but offering a story about women—the ones who didn’t know the evil that lurked within, the ones who tried to placate or fight but still perished, the ones who might actually survive. Haunting but never prurient, The Quiet Tenant is truly unforgettable. Read it.” — Alafair Burke, author of The Wife
“Expertly structured and luminously rendered, The Quiet Tenant is told from the perspectives of several different women bound, both wittingly and unwittingly, to a single, terrifyingly familiar predator. A mystery that is at once riveting and heartrending, The Quiet Tenant is a sharply insightful look at what it means to live and love as a woman in this harrowing world. It is truly extraordinary.” — Kimberly McCreight, author of Reconstructing Amelia
“While a widowed man falls for a bartender, the woman he’s held hostage for years plots her escape in this fast-paced thriller . . . A twisted premise that raises unexpected moral questions.” —Kirkus Reviews
Pre-order The Quiet Tenant using the links below

UK readers can pre-order The Quiet Tenant here



I'm a Senior People Writer at The Independent. Here are some pieces I've written on the job:

Welcome to the hot chef renaissance. It’s complicated​​

Their families insist they survived. Investigators doubt it. The enduring mystery of the three missing men of Alcatraz

DB Cooper hijacked a plane, stole a pile of cash, and vanished. Fifty years on, a ‘hero’ flight attendant speaks out

Natalie Wood’s sister insists her death wasn’t an accident – is it time we listened?

Amanda Knox is innocent – why won’t Hollywood let her disappear?

She had a ‘cool’ childhood babysitter. Four decades later, she learnt he was a serial killer

Serial killers, brutal murder and the rise of the podcast detectives

What happens when books inspire real-life violence?


Past work

In early 2019, I interviewed Liam Neeson. After the interview made global headlines, I wrote more about the way it unfolded. As a result of this interview, I was shortlisted for a British Journalism Award (Scoop of the Year) and for a National Press Award (Scoop: Popular Life).

A year later, in early 2020, I covered Harvey Weinstein's criminal trial on the ground in New York City. Here are some of the pieces I wrote during that time:

‘Listen to survivors’: Harvey Weinstein trial begins with protests, outrage and a call for respect

Tense, ferocious and historic: Inside the courtroom at Harvey Weinstein trial

We’re in this club we never wanted to be in’: Harvey Weinstein silence breakers find solidarity as trial rages on

Against all sexist odds, Harvey Weinstein has been found guilty of rape and sexual assault. This is history

As he was sentenced to 23 years, Weinstein spoke about his case for the first time — and proved he'd learnt nothing

Why there’s no such thing as a perfect victim: What Harvey Weinstein’s trial taught us about sexual assault


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Clémence Michallon Discusses THE QUIET TENANT


Q: Can you identify a particular moment or experience that sparked the idea for The Quiet Tenant?

A: I spent April 2020 living in a house upstate with my husband’s family. I was grateful to be there, but I was also struck by the disruption we were experiencing. After years of having our routines dictated by the rhythm of our respective commutes and jobs, we were suddenly spending a lot of time together, without reprieve. I found this fascinating. I mean, we know what our loved ones do for a living, but how much do we really know about their day-to-day activities? 

This got me thinking about how our routines can be disrupted, and what the implications of those disruptions might be. Say, for example, someone had a dark secret they had been able to keep from their family because they were never in close proximity during the day. And then, suddenly, they were no longer apart (early 2020 in a nutshell!). This had the makings of a novel.

I began to play with a few scenarios in my head, eventually landing on a serial killer who keeps someone captive, unbeknownst to his family, thanks to the setup of his property. But then he must move, and as a result, his captive inches closer, becoming somewhat adjacent to his life and family. To me, there was something irresistible about this narrative of worlds colliding. 

Q: You’ve chosen to tell this story—that of a male serial killer—in an unexpected way. Why did you use multiple perspectives to tell this story, and why did you neglect the obvious one?

A: I knew from the beginning that my serial killer would not get to speak. We hear from enough serial killers in real life, and they are unreliable narrators. I’ve always been more interested in hearing from people who lived adjacent to them without knowing they were serial killers (the folks you see on 48 Hours saying things like, “He never looked at me. He looked through me.”) There is something so raw and compelling about what they endured—their truth.

I’m a reporter by trade, so I took writing an authentic serial killer novel as a great responsibility. And writing that novel with an understanding of his motivations and the lives impacted by his actions—without his voice—was a great challenge. Every choice felt meaningful; I left little to chance. And that’s how I landed on multiple perspectives. Since the serial killer here victimizes women, there was something important in the centering of female voices. Telling the story through the voices of three women—my serial killer’s captive (who knows about his crimes), a woman who has a crush on him (who doesn’t), and his teenage daughter (ditto)—felt right.

There has been a movement in true crime to shift our focus away from perpetrators and toward victims. I think it is a powerful reclaiming, one which is changing the way we think about crime. There is a real-world aspect to it: no longer are we talking about serial killers like nebulous killing machines. Instead, we’re told here is this person, who hurt these people in this manner. This is much more powerful. 

Q: Speaking of the characters at the heart of this story, of the three women central to The Quiet Tenant, which character came to you first? Was it always your plan to tell the story through these three voices? 

A: I started working on this novel in the first-person voice of Rachel, the captive in the book. Her story was absorbing, but I found her perspective challenging to sustain. Rachel knows the most about her captor, but she never sees him making his way in the world. And that was a problem I needed to solve. 

Then, one day I was walking my dog, listening to a decidedly not-thrillery song called Baila Baila Comigo, by a band called Dominó, and suddenly I thought: “What if I tell this story from other perspectives? The woman who is held captive, yes. But what about another woman who doesn’t know about his crimes? A longtime crush, say? Someone who is about to get a lot closer to him?” 

I so rarely get struck by ideas like this. Most of the time, my stories are shaped by small decisions. And that’s why this idea felt so exciting. I wasn’t sure it would work, so I spoke to a friend about it. She convinced me to try it. So I did. 

After working on that second voice and perspective, I realized I needed a third one: that of Aidan’s daughter. Her voice came through loud and clear. 

And there I had it: my female chorus. I was certain it was the only way I could—and wanted to—tell this story. 

Q: We often hear stories about serial killers who hide behind a mask of normalcy—“family men” with terrible secrets. This is true for your fictional serial killer, Aidan, as well. What interested you in exploring this subject in your novel?

A: The first serial killer I learned about was Ted Bundy. My mother told me about him when I was a teenager, and his story terrified me (thanks, mom!). Fear, as it turns out, can quickly turn into an obsession. For years, I would forget serial killers like Bundy existed, and then I would remember him, go on long Wikipedia binges about other serial killers, and forget again. Rinse and repeat. 

There’s also this: how could I not be interested? How could anyone think these stories aren’t interesting? Their behavior stretches the limits of what we like to think human beings are capable of. It’s utterly incomprehensible. That, too, can quickly turn into an obsession.

How does someone keep such a secret from their relatives? How do they manage to commit their crimes undetected? Mentally, how do they compartmentalize? How do they transition from their secret existence to their “official” ones? I couldn’t get these questions out of my head until I decided to write my own answers—in a novel (it also helps to have covered true crime in my reporting).

Q: I know you're also an avid reader! Which writers do you feel have most influenced your own work? 

A: I have to start with Mary Higgins Clark. My mother had a whole collection of her paperbacks. Her books had the best covers (I’m French, so these were French editions.) One summer, I picked up my mother’s copy of Loves Music, Loves to Dance, started skimming it... and spent the rest of the day on the floor, entirely absorbed by the story. That ending is a terrifying, heart-pounding scene that will be inscribed in my mind forever. It took me a few more years to write a thriller, but I think that was the day I fell in love with the genre. 

Megan Abbott is another. Her 2014 novel, The Fever, about a group of teenage girls seized by strange, unexplainable symptoms, floored me. I didn’t know it was possible to write prose like this. It felt familiar to me, like a language I’d been waiting to hear for a long time. At the end of the book, there was an essay by the author and a Q&A in which she explained how a segment on the Today show had inspired her novel. She also talked about how she had “always wanted to do a novel that addressed the same issues connected to the Salem witch trials but set in the modern day.” That way of thinking about stories, of connecting craft to the real world, seemed so exciting to me. So I set out to read Megan’s backlist and, in doing so, became a fan of her work. The Fever and my experience reading it and reading about it—that’s part of my origin story as a writer. 

Jessica Knoll’s Luckiest Girl Alive was another big moment for me. I fell in love with its voice and how Jessica weaves her dual timelines together. It was an example of a novel that knew exactly what it wanted to do, and then it was executed with precision. I also love the ways Jessica talks about craft, ambition, and how persistent she had to be to bring her novel to the screen. 

Leila Slimani is a master of telling profoundly dark stories in a mesmerizing literary style. Read her novels The Perfect Nanny and Adèle, and you’ll see she doesn’t neglect anything—not her plot, not her characters, and indeed not her prose. How could she not be an inspiration? 

While I was writing, I read Oyinkan Braithwaite’s brilliant novel My Sister, the Serial Killer. It’s an ambitious reimagining of the serial killer novel. Her plot leads her to some pretty big questions (for example: How far does familial love go, and where does one’s morals begin?), and she never shies away from them. That novel exemplifies the brave, uncompromising writing that makes for a great crime novel. 



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