Saturday, 6 May 2017

Crime Fiction Month: The Write Stuff with... Amanda Reynolds

Today it's my pleasure to welcome author Amanda Reynolds back to the blog as part of this feature month with a guest post talking about settings.

I didn’t set out to write a crime novel, only realising I had when I was invited to a Crime Writers’ party at my publisher’s! Perhaps that’s why I didn’t choose a traditional setting for the genre, but that’s the beauty of crime novels, they can be set anywhere.

My inspiration is the place I live, a small village surrounded by the dramatic landscape of the Cotswold Hills. It’s not gritty, or urban, quite the opposite, but the fascination for me is the contrast between the ascetics of a location and the lives of the inhabitants; the side we don’t see, led in private, and so different perhaps than we might perceive. 

The popularity of psychological suspense feeds on our collective absorption with the private lives of others, and as an author I am presenting you with a glimpse behind the closed door of a marriage. The protagonist is someone like you, or reminds you of someone you know. It’s this proximity to ourselves that draws us in, the thought we could so easily be in that situation, and if we were, what might we do? 

In Close To Me, Jo and Rob lead an aspirational life in their huge converted barn at the top of a hill, a monolith of glass and brick, the ultimate status symbol, but Jo is lonely now her children have left home. The barn feels bleak to her, constantly battered by the wind and rain. The minimalism Rob prefers, sleek furniture and hard floors, is cold and unwelcoming, especially as she spends too much time there on her own, Rob working long hours. The steep drive back down the hill is almost too much to face after she falls down the stairs, increasing her sense of isolation and vulnerability. The garden is beaten down by the weather, gates and car doors torn from her grasp by the constant gales, as though the elements were another battle she must fight. The only room she feels comfortable in is the den, a later addition where the proportions are less grand, a cosy space where she recalls her daughter and friends filling the squashy sofa with laughter. She misses the sound of her son playing his guitar in his room, the mess and clutter of family life.

For me, setting is vital in creating a sense of unease, the extraordinary wrapped up in the everyday. As Jo’s relationship with her husband deteriorates, so does her connection to the barn. She knows she should love it, how privileged she is, but her sense of claustrophobia becomes overwhelming. The barn traps her in splendid isolation, a stunning home, but sterile; too perfect. Perfectionism is never perfect, and sometimes a seemingly idyllic setting, may prove be the most unsettling. 
Twitter: @amandareynoldsj

She can't remember the last year. Her husband wants to keep it that way.

When Jo Harding falls down the stairs at home, she wakes up in hospital with partial amnesia - she's lost a whole year of memories.

A lot can happen in a year. Was Jo having an affair? Lying to her family? Starting a new life?

She can't remember what she did - or what happened the night she fell.

But she's beginning to realise she might not be as good a wife and mother as she thought.

1 comment:

  1. The storyline is intriguing. Love that the setting is in a village. Thanks for sharing sounds like a fantastic book.