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Why Do I Like Writing In The Domestic Noir Genre? By Caroline England

My Husband LiesOn the book tour for Caroline England ‘s new book called ‘My Husband Lies’, Caroline talks about why she writes domestic noir.

‘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

How to Overcome Writer’s Block by Sophie Jenkins

“SophieToday on the book tour for Sophie Jenkins’ new book ‘The Forgotten Guide To Happiness’, Sophie talks about the struggle that most authors face and that’s writers block.

In the ‘Forgotten Guide to Happiness’, the jilted heroine Lana Green writes a depressing sequel to her first novel, a love story, and when she is forced to come up with a new idea she gets writer’s block.

The original idea was like a bigger take on Facebook posts; the first novel had all the stages of a romantic relationship, the happy photographs, the beautiful settings – and then the next thing you know, it’s all over except for the unanswerable question – what just happened? The darker side of life is always more interesting to write about than happiness and I also liked the idea of the romance from her point of view as opposed to the way her boyfriend sees it – to him, her fantasised version of him is difficult to live up to, whereas for her, portraying him in a idealised way was a sign of how much she loved him.

Because of this she loses all sense of focus when she comes to write the next book and she only becomes unblocked because of the influence of Nancy Ellis Hall, a feminist writer with dementia who fell in love with a younger man.

The character of Nancy is based on my mother who has always been a larger-than-life character and for a long time I wasn’t able to write even though I only saw her two days a week. I live in London and she lived in Wales. But I thought about her all the time and it felt as if I didn’t have any room left in my head for being creative; in the scheme of things it really wasn’t a priority. Real-life sometimes doesn’t leave much room for anything else and that’s how it should be.

To help my creativity I went on a Commando Survival Course in Buckinghamshire in November, when the snow was on the ground. I creatively built a shelter but I was more focused on surviving the cold than writing.

The Forgotten Guide To Happiness

Then I went to a Romantic Novelists’ meeting with friends and they were talking about when they write, and what they usually wear when they’re writing. It’s almost like a superstition, swapping writing tips, and I’m always on the lookout for brilliant ideas that might be helpful. One of my friends said she stays in bed and with her laptop and she doesn’t get up until she’s finished her thousand words target. That method was very appealing, until another friend told us she doesn’t start writing until she’s showered, dressed and put make-up on, because she says it’s only then that she feels ready to do a day’s work, and I got on board with that as well.

For Christmas, my sister came up with a solution. She gave me a Mint Velvet gift wrapped box and inside she had put dark grey tracksuit bottoms and a pale grey top and told me it was my new writing suit.

Wake up, shower, put on the writing suit and I’m good to go.

You can buy The Forgotten Guide to Happiness from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

How Brexit Affected My Book By Sue Moorcroft

Sue MoorcroftToday on the book tour for Sue Moorcroft’s brand new book called ‘One Summer In Italy’, Sue talks about how Brexit affected her story.

Sometimes an idea for a novel comes to me – shazam! It’s a euphoric moment as I realise that the idea has enough depth to sustain a novel and I can give the characters conflict or missions that work with the initial idea.

Sadly, hard on the heels of this moment of euphoria comes the jarring moment I fall to earth. I see A SNAG.

The idea to write about seasonal workers living in Italy came to me when I was visiting Italy to run a writing course for Arte Umbria and was speaking to their English chef who’d come out to run their kitchen for the summer. It could be a shazam! idea, I realised. We chatted about the issues attendant on living-in versus living-out, the way days were structured, how the chef got her work, how she was paid, what her work entailed and a host of other details. I should have written the book there and then, before …

… Brexit.

The referendum (June 2016) hadn’t even taken place when I decided to write about seasonal workers living in Europe. It wasn’t until I got down to work in early 2017 that I realised the significance of the freedom to work in Europe not necessarily exist in the future. SNAG. I set about solving the problem as best I could.

One Summer In Italy

I gave my heroine an Italian dad. A member of my street team, Team Sue Moorcroft, lives in Italy and gave me a list of popular Italian names for 30-something females, from which I chose Sofia. Opinion seemed pretty fixed that entitlement to a European passport would open borders for its bearer. I know quite a few people in Northamptonshire with an Italian parent or parents so I’m familiar with the enduring love for Italy that never seems entirely overlaid by decades of living in England. Aldo asking Sofia to promise to visit his hometown of Montelibertà was born from this, and her story began to take shape. Why hadn’t Aldo been back? Why wasn’t he in touch with his brother? Why should Sofia go on his behalf and what would she find there? Why was she so keen to travel?

I didn’t want to repeat the device for Amy, the young friend Sofia makes in Casa Felice, the hotel where they work, but had to similarly Brexit-proof it. I saw that Amy could come from a family of ex-pats, and I situated them in Germany, partly because it’s my birth country (we were an army family) and partly because my brother’s family were ex-pats in Munich for years, so I knew something of the life. Why Amy had left home was clear in my mind. What became pivotal to the plot was why she couldn’t go back.

Levi, in comparison, was easy. To support various hotels, Montelibertà had to be a tourist town. I made him a tourist. One day a man I met eulogised about the joys of riding a motor cycle around Europe and I thought, ‘There you go, Levi. You can do that.’

One Summer in Italy has turned out to have a lot to say about freedom, in various forms. And what’s worth giving up.

You can buy One Summer in Italy from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The F Word By Lily Pebbles

The F Word ‘The F Word’ is Lily Pebbles thoughts on female relationships.

If there’s one piece of invaluable advice for women and girls of all ages, it is that there is nothing more important than creating and maintaining strong, positive and happy friendships with other women. In a culture that largely pits women against each other, I want to celebrate female friendships… all strings attached! If my 1998 diary is anything to go by, female friendships are incredibly complex and emotional but they’re the mini love stories that make us who we are. For many women, friends are our partners in crime through life; they are the ones who move us into new homes, out of bad relationships, through births and illnesses. In The F Word I’ve set out to explore and celebrate the essence of female friendship at different life stages and in its many wild and wonderful forms.

When it comes to female friendships, they are occasionally a bit of a minefield, they’re no longer as straightforward as when we were children, when we approached someone in the playground and asked if they wanted to be your friend.

Granted, now as an adult you could try that approach but it might result in some odd looks before backing away. As, we get older friendships become harder, we outgrow friends, as we might be travelling at different paces, we might have a difference of opinion or there just might be that one friend that doesn’t bring out the best in you.

‘The F Word’ is a great insight into the workings of the female mind and particularly the relationships between women. It might not provide any earth shattering information, but it provides informative and useful advice into dealing with different personalities at different times.

The book is written in a laid-back style that made for entertaining reading that I found myself relating to on many levels. My friendships vary, there’s work friends, social outgoings, school friends and there’s that one friend who’s always there, no matter what they are going through. That person, who means the world to you.

Lily writes frankly and honestly about her friendships through the years, how they’ve developed or faded away and she speaks frankly of moments of jealousy, that no-one ever wants to admit to.

There’s tips on how to handle all types of relationship dramas and there’s an useful inclusion of how to make new friends on social media and the do’s and don’t’s of interactions.

Although the cover of the book and the content of the book suggests it’s for an older market, I did think this book was more suited for the Young Adult audience, for those heading off to university and unsure how to make new friendships. Either way, ‘The F Word’ is a fun and fresh book with some warm humour and honesty dotted throughout.

You can buy The F Word: A personal exploration of modern female friendship from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Caroline England Reveals New Book – My Husband Lies

My Husband LiesJust ahead of the book tour next week, I’m delighted to be revealing the cover to Caroline England’s new book called ‘My Husband Lies’.

What the back cover says –

Do you really know your friends?

On the afternoon of Nick and Lisa’s wedding, their close friend is found poised on a hotel window ledge, ready to jump.

As the shock hits their friendship group, they soon realise that none of them are being as honest with themselves – or with each other – as they think

And there are secrets lurking that could destroy everything.

Tense, disturbing and clever, ‘My Husband’s Lies’ is a breath-taking read, perfect for fans of Lucy Clarke and Erin Kelly.

Check out Tuesday, 29th May, which is my spot on the tour next week, where Caroline will talk about why she enjoys writing domestic noir.

You can buy My Husband’s Lies from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.