Why Do I Like Writing In The Domestic Noir Genre? By Caroline England
‘My Husband’s Lies’ and my debut ‘Beneath the Skin’, published in October last year, come under the crime fiction genre. Some people have been a little surprised at this category, but the crime umbrella is huge, the sub genres ranging from cosy mystery to hard-boiled private dicks, from psychological thriller to police procedurals, from espionage to courtroom dramas. And the list goes on!
I just wrote stories that I liked without any thought of ‘genre’ in mind. However, like slipping into a pair of perfect fitting boots (Fly London platforms, particularly), I was thrilled to discover that my novels fall snugly into the ‘domestic noir’ sub genre. It has been called other things such as ‘marriage thriller’, ‘chic noir’, ‘suburban noir’ and ‘domestic suspense’ but ‘domestic noir’ seems to have stuck.
Although the tag was brilliantly named by the author Julia Crouch, the popularity of dark domestic noir stories has been going for hundreds of years. Take Shakespeare’s Othello, Hamlet or MacBeth. How about the Brontë’s Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights. Rebecca is a perfect fit. Even the Great Gatsby! And all those fabulous old noir films – Double Indemnity, Suspicion and Gaslight. Jeopardy and fear where we should feel safe!
So, what are the ingredients of domestic noir? Well, they are set in homes or work places and there’s often a dark narrative and a sense of claustrophobic danger or unease, but I also think it’s about ordinary people (you and I) caught up in extraordinary situations. My Husband’s Lies is about three guys and a girl who’ve been tight friends since school. Without apparently a care in the world, they attend the wedding of one of them, but a guest is found on the window ledge, ready to jump. This sparks a chain of unstoppable events and throws their lives into chaos.
I like to write about deep love between people with complicated backgrounds. If you’ve read Beneath the Skin, you’ll know this and there’s more in My Husband’s Lies! I just love to get under the skin of the characters and explore what’s going on in their heads – their wants, desires, motivations and secrets. Their stories are multi-layered and complicated. I want the reader to come with me and get involved too! I’m exploring a moral grey area, so my characters are flawed, people under pressure, but that’s when they’re at their most intriguing!
Julia Crouch commented that domestic noir stories are largely, but not exclusively, the female experience. In My Husband’s Lies, there is that, but I also tell the stories of two of the male characters from their points of view. One of them obsesses about a family secret at the expense of his new marriage; another is propositioned by a man and this sets him on a confusing and conflicting journey.
Domestic noir in a nutshell? ’What goes on behind closed doors.’ This old granny expression sums it up the best. Perfect!
What’s going on behind yours?
You can buy My Husband Lies from Amazon