The Dangerous Kind is a fictional thriller written by Deborah O’Connor which was first published in 2019.
The book is a fictional novel that tells a story about the monsters that live among us.
1 in 100 of us will commit a violent crime
1 in 100 of us are… the Dangerous Kind
I thought this book was an excellent read and was a very engaging and well written book. This book faces many tough topics such as child abuse, pedophile rings, domestic violence and rape so it definitely is not a light hearted read however it is a fast paced and thoroughly engaging book. Although there is a prominent plot where Jessamine Gooch looks into the case of a missing woman and all the twists and turns that come with this, there are also many other sub plots that are weaved into the story in a way that isn’t confusing. There is also the story of Jess’s daughter Sarah and the sound engineer that helps with the podcasts previous experiences that have clearly effected him. It is also written in different time periods with different characters narrating for different chapters but again O’Connor has written it in a way that isn’t Confusing. This adds realism to the book as in reality there isn’t always just one thing happening in peoples lives, its always intertwined with personal experiences and struggles which I thought O’Connor portrayed well.
O’Connor’s characertisation is something I really enjoyed about this book .The book is centred around a middle aged woman, Jessamine Gooch, who is a radio host on her show about convicted Killers. When she is approached to look into a current case that features a missing woman she soon come to learn many secrets from the past and present. Jessamine is a well written character, she is a middle aged woman who has an adopted teen daughter who she is struggling to communicate with as well as dealing with her own dating life and working on this case. she also volunteers at a domestic abuse helpline which is another layer to her character. there are many other characters in the book which are all written extremely well. O’Connor shares who they are and why that is the case.
The sheer amount of various topics in this book is something I touched on at the beginning but this really is something that I found extremely impressive. O’Connor manages to write about tough topics like child exploitation, pedophilia, the exploitation of girls in care homes, domestic violence and other topics in a way that conveys how horrific those are but without going into unnecessary explicit detail. A fine line that O’Connor has managed to walk expertly. Not only do you see those hard hitting topics you also see the topics of adoption and of technology and computer hacking so shows the variety in which O’Connor can write.
Overall, I would say that it isn’t an easy read as it does feature many tough topic but it certainly is a riveting one so if you are interested in crime/thriller novels this should definitely be added to your TBR list.
Alibi for a Judge is a fiction book by Henry Cecil which was first published in 1960.
I picked up this book at my local cafe/bookshop which sells preloved books! I was drawn to it initially by the cover of it alongside the title. It intringued me and after I read the blurb I purchased it. I really enjoyed this book and although it was written in 1960 it didn’t seem out of touch.
It follows Mr Justice Carstairs (a High Court Judge) as he looks for evidence alongside the wife of a man he sentenced to 10 years in prison. After begining to feel doubtful of the verdict he gave and thinking himself to have biased the deision he takes it upon himself to help investigate the truth of the crime.
I really ejoyed this book and at 200 pages long it didn’t take long to finish. It was split into chapters which were tiled according to the next plan of action for Cartairs and I thought it was well paced and thouroughly enjoyable. Some of the language used was rather formal however I felt this helped bring you into the world of the Judge and his plans to find the truth.
It is a book that is based on a crime that has been committed and following a judge as he investigates it further. This typically is a book that I would be drawn to but I must admit it is different to the books I have read. although there is a crime there is no real focus on this and is more so about the judge and how this is affecting him. There is no sensationalizing of a crime and yet there is enough twists in the narrative to engage me and compel me to continue reading.
I would overall recommend this book as it was very enjoyable and had a timeless feeling about it. There was no violence or major crime to keep you engaged and although it had twists in the story these didn’t need to be life or death to add depth to the story.
Many thanks, Caitlin x
(PS please feel free to like, comment and share x)
I purchased another ‘blind date with a book’ from an etsy store and this time it was from FosterLittleBookShop!
As I have said in a previous post I think it is a great way to purchase books as it allows you to reuse and gain a preloved book whilst discovering new authors and books at the same time (as well as supporting a small business!)
In this purchase you got a preloved book, beautifully wrapped, in a genre of your choice. With over 15 categories including adventure, fantasy, feel good and even childrens (10+) to choose from your sure to find something up your street. Or use it as an opportunity to expereince a new ne. I went for Crime (surprise surprise!) and for the price of only £1.50 (excluding shipping) it is great value for money!
It comes wrapped in some brown parcel paper with the genre stamped on the front with the business logo. I received the book Playing with Fire by Peter Robinson and this is a book I haven’t read which is great! I am excited to start reading it. Now with this book you can definitely tell it has been preloved but I don’t find this an issue especially with the price I paid compared to what it would cost newly printed.
Playing with Fire is an installment in Peter Robinsons Inspector Banks series. Although I haven’t read any of the other books in the series I am intrigued to see if this will make any difference with this book or if it is a book that is able to stand alone as well as within the series. From looking at the book and reading the blurb it seems to be a book that follows Inspector Banks as he is solving crimes, and this is a book that I think I will enjoy!
Overall, I would say that this purchase was great value for money and a great way to purchase a preloved book that you can enjoy!
Many thanks, Caitlin x
(PS please feel free to like, comment and share x)
The 50/50 Killer is a crime novel written by British author Steve Mosby that was first published in 2007.
The book is about a killer who preys on couples and makes them choose who will live and ultimately who will die. however I will say that the book is about more than just the crime and the twists and turns. we meet new detective Mark Nelson on his first case on his new team. From the beginning of this book I was engaged in it. I thought the writing was excellent and as the book continued the characters had some great depth too add to the book.
When it comes to the characters there are really two who are featured at the forefront of the book, these are new to the team Mark Nelson and experienced detective John Mackey. When we meet Mark he is keen to start this job however it also gives you an insight into John Mackey. As Mark is nervous to meet such an experienced detective you can see the kind of influence Det. John has within this field. we follow mark as he settles into the job whilst investigating these horrible crimes. Det. Mackey is a deeply troubled person and you can see this throughout the book, from descriptions of his actions and looks to learning that he has been affected badly by a previous case. You get an insight into his personal life and how this job not only effects himself but his loving wife. I thought that both characters were really great and well written. They allowed you to learn more about what makes them, them and understand the actions that they take.
When it comes to the actual crimes in the book it is very dark and twisted. It featured topics of murder, torture, stalking etc and also has some graphic descriptions of crimes and crime scenes. although I will say that this is balanced with the sub-plots of the characters but that doesn’t take away how intense it is. I would say that this book isn’t necessarily a typical crime novel, yes it has the investigation and the crimes, but it looks at everything is a much more comprehensive look at the impact of these crimes on everyone. Not only the victims and the criminal but the investigators, the families and the community. The writing and the plot keeps you reading at a fast pace as you want to know everything yourself, the book is filled with various twists and turns and keeps you guessing and finding out at the same time as the characters. I really liked that, I didn’t find it predictable. Of course certain things like the investigation may be understood if you read a lot of crime novels but the actual plot was what kept you on the edge of your seat.
Overall, I would say that this book is one I would recommend. But I would say that this isn’t really a comfortable read in the sense of it being a cosy, predictable read. Mosby doesn’t shy away from gore and crime descriptions and it can keep you on edge. I would say that it is excellent but we aware of what you are going to be reading. I would also say that Mosby walks the fine line between gore that is value to the book and it being too much but he keeps it to the former very well.
Many thanks, Caitlin x (PS please feel free to like, comment and share!)
Forensics: The Anatomy of a Crime is a non-fiction book by Val McDermid which was released in 2014.
Personally, I don’t often read non-fiction however I was drawn to this as it delves into the world which many of Vals books are set in. I usually don’t go for non-fiction as if not done well (especially with topics like this one) it can start to seem like a textbook and I don’t find myself interested enough to want to carry on reading. This book is different however, the way it is written doesnt come accross as a textbook and doesn’s just state facts. It shares anecdotes and real life circumstances where the forensics have been used and evolved which gives the book more depth. I feel this is what allows the reader to become engaged and want to continue reading. The world of crime and investigation is something that Val McDermid primarily writes about so it is interesting to see the research that has been done for this over many years of being an author.
I found this book to be very educational, I have read many crime novels and seen how the forensics have been portrayed but this allows you to learn the science behind it all. It shares different aspects of forensics from DNA, entomology (study of insects) to the use of poison as a murder weapon. Not only does Val use this book to share the science behind these but also draws on real cases to share how they have been used in the past and how fornesic science has developed over the years.
The book doesn’t give any false conclusions and allows the reader to understand that although there may be scientific evidence linking this to crimes can often change an outcome. a lot depends on cicumstances and time and even with the forensics nothing is ever conclusive of guilt. It can be used alongside other evidence but rarely can it prove compete guilt.
I think that this was a good insight as often in books it can be seen as very black-and-white. The evidence is there so a conviction is made, in real life however it is often a different story and this book shares this.
I liked the way this book was structured with each ‘chapter’ discussing a different topic related to criminal forensics, including fire and bullet markings. This is something I liked as it allowed me to take the time to know that aspect before moving on. It provides a way to share many aspects without it becoming confusing and hard to read.
I would recommend this book as I thouroughly enjoyed it. If your a fan of forensics, crime novels and any of Val’s work this should definatly be added to your TBR list!
I recently bought a mystery surprise book from the Etsy shop and this is what I got!
I really love the idea of getting mystery books and being able to get a new book whilst also recycling. Being able to discover different authors and explore a book which you ay not have necessarily picked up by yourself.
The Etsy shop SecretBookClub is a page that sells mystery book bundles and blind date with a book. Based in Glasgow, Scotland it is a small, independently run Etsy shop. this is another reason I love to purchase books in this way, you are able to support a small business!
I purchased the Blind Date with a used book and it came very promptly. It came beautifully packaged in some brown paper with a coloured ribbon. When purchasing this book the seller allowed you to choose what genre you would like and I picked bargain book. Which meant instead of choosing a specific genre you could receive any and it was slightly cheaper.
In this bundle you also received a drink ingredient which you could choose from tea, coffee or hot chocolate (I chose the latter). To go alongside this you got a small packet of biscuits, You also received a cute sticker, as well as a small metal bookmark. This is all purchased for the small price of £3 (excluding postage) which is incredibly good value for money. (as I picked the bargain book options, most other options were £5).
I received the book The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Conner. The book is a fiction thriller novel. I was really happy with receiving this book and cannot wait to read it !
“One in 100 of us is a ‘potentially dangerous person’ – someone likely to commit a violent crime. We all know them: these charmers, liars and manipulators. The ones who send prickles up the back of our neck. These people hide in plain sight, they can be teachers, doctors, holding positions of trust, of power. Jessamine Gooch makes a living tracking the 1 in 100. Each week she broadcasts a radio show that examines brutal offences, asking if more could have been done to identify and prevent their perpetrators. But when she agrees to investigate a missing person case involving a young mother, she is drawn into a web of danger that will ultimately lead to the upper echelons of power, and threaten the safety of her own family. What if the people we trust are the ones we should fear? “
I am really happy with this purchase, being able to find a preloved book to enjoy and able to support a small business at the same time is perfect. I would highly recommend buying books in this manner (whether from this specific shop or not). I allows you to reuse preloved books and discover new authors and books you may not otherwise get to enjoy!
A Touch of Death by Rebecca Crunden is the first installment of The Outlands Pentology.
I was very lucky to have been sent a copy of this book by the author in return for an honest review.
A Touch of Death is a science fiction, dystopian fantasy novel and when I first read about it I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it but I was wrong. I really enjoyed reading the book as it featured many aspects that I really like. Including good character development, crime, drama and anticipation.
I have said in many posts before, one thing I really enjoy in a book is good character development and I found that this book really had that. I really liked the main characters of Nate and Catherine and found their growing relationship to be very interesting. There was something very realistic about how it naturally grew from hatred to friendship. They work together as a team and you can see how each of their strengths and weaknesses work to complement each other.
I tend to stay clear of science fiction fantasy novels as many book are not believable and that comes with the territory but I felt that even although their world is nothing like reality it somehow felt as though it could have been. As I continued to read I felt completely immersed in their world and felt as though I was on the journey alongside them. This I would put down to the writing and the concept. The writing in this book is excellent and really made this book as good as it is.
The book does feature many tough ‘scenes’ as the title suggests and is full of twists and turns which kept me engaged and wanting to see how the characters responded and reacted.
One thing I would say however is the last section of the book I felt to be rushed on a little and having spent so long on the rest of the adventure this result could have been explored further. in saying this there were some real tear jerking moments in the ending which added some real depth to the book
Overall, I would recommend this book and I will definitely be adding the rest of the books to my TBR pile.
Many thanks, Caitlin x
(PS please feel free to like, comment and share x)
This weeks post features another author Q&A, this time with author of the Spider and the Fly, Claudia Rowe.
I reached out to Claudia after reading her book the spider and the fly, a non-fiction book which I thoroughly enjoyed! ( I have written a previous port on it, check it out here!) . Claudia kindly answered some questions for myself and this blog and I hope you will like to read the answers as much as I did!
1. What made you want to become a writer, primarily non-fiction?
As a kid, books truly were my friends. Very often my best friends. Novels kept me company when I was alone, made me feel safe when I was frightened. I remember my grandmother looking over a book report I’d written in the 3rd grade and announcing, “You will be a writer.” It stuck in my head. But I didn’t consider nonfiction until college. I’d been piddling around, torturing myself over short stories, until I took a class in Writing the Personal Essay. It was a revelation. Suddenly, my work had an energy to it, a pulse. After that, the die was cast. I was going to make my living as a writer, and true stories were the way.
2. When having conversations with Kendall was it always the plan to write a book, and in a memoir/true crime genre?
I knew I wanted to write a book that stemmed from the place where I was living, a small city in upstate New York, and there were aspects of Kendall Francois’s story that mirrored themes I wanted to explore – particularly denial. That part was clear from the start. But only after we began talking did I realize how much my own past was part of our dynamic. I wanted to be honest about this with readers, so I needed to explain what had brought me to a place in life where I was corresponding with a murderer. Hence, the memoir.
3. I felt this book was more about the relationship between yourself and Kendall and the concept of human behaviour, was it always the intention to focus on this rather than the actual crimes?
My intention was to try and understand Kendall Francois as a person, not some sort of nightmare creature. I’d spent many years reading about crime, and at a certain point it felt like there wasn’t a great deal more to be gained from depicting yet another gruesome act – just, why? But I had not read much nonfiction that explored the humanity embedded within these stories. Novels, of course, have tackled this terrain extensively. But nonfiction, not as much, which is understandable. It brings you to some rather dark places.
4. What was your process for writing this book like, was it a book that took a while to write?
It took an insanely long time – 18 years from the moment I started to when it was published – with a long break in the middle. I began reporting this story as traditional journalism, or true crime if you like. But after five years, it became increasingly clear that there was something running underneath – the chess match between Francois and me – that I needed to explore. At the time, I just wasn’t equipped to sit with that kind of material, let alone write about it. So I stepped away. I told myself the book was too hard, and I tried to move on with my life. But I never put away my notes. For eight years, they sat in boxes, stacked around my desk – until one night I absentmindedly began flipping through an old draft. And here we are.
5. When you first started writing this book, did you have a goal for it?
My original goal was a book that would answer the question we all have: how does a person become someone who does things like this?
6. After writing this book do you have a different outlook on crime and the meaning of the word evil?
Yes. I believe most of what we label “evil” can be more accurately understood as evidence of mental illness. Is hatred a sign of mental illness? Maybe not. But sadism is.
7. Do you plan to write any more books, potentially a fiction novel?
Right after The Spider and the Fly, I published an e-book called Time Out that looks at the true case of a 13-year-old who was sentenced to 23 years in prison. And I’m at work on a new book now, also nonfiction, about foster care. But I do have a novel percolating. It’s about friendship and betrayal, and what happens to a tight group of girls as they grow up.
8. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers and authors?
Ignore the disapproval of others. Read everything. Know that writing is work, often exhausting and sometimes humiliating. And if you think you’re a genius, you’re probably wrong.
9. Is there anything else you would like to share on ‘The Spider and the Fly’?
I am grateful to every person who reads this book and sits with the thoughts it brings up. Thank you for these excellent questions.
I again would love to thank Claudia for answering these questions, it is much appreciated!
This weeks author Q&A features Douglas Lindsay, author of ‘Song of the Dead’ (the first in the DI Westphall series).
I reached out to Douglas Lindsay to see if he would possibly be able to answer a few of my questions, which he said yes to. Thank you very much for doing so Douglas Lindsay, much apprecieted! my questions and his answers are as follows;
1. What made you want to become a writer?
I’ve always been a daydreamer, a fantasist. I remember reading Walter Mitty in school, and thinking, isn’t everyone like this? Why is this even a character in a story? So, I’d always thought about writing, but I hit my twenties and got a job in an office. Time passed. Then I married a diplomat, we moved to French-speaking Africa, I didn’t speak French, I mentioned to Kathryn that I could become a writer, she foolishly agreed, and that was twenty-five years ago. Kathryn’s still a diplomat, still waiting for the pay-off of me being a writer. On the plus side, I just made butternut squash, chili and crème fraiche soup for lunch, which I wouldn’t have done if I was working in an office.
2. Did you have any specific inspiration to write ‘Song of the Dead’?
Not in terms of story. I decided to write a new, first-person detective series, so the main influence, or non-influence, was my other first-person detective series, DS Hutton. Hutton is an alcoholic, foul-mouthed, sex-obsessed, opinionated, melancholic, PTSD-afflicted reprobate. I try to make him roguishly attractive, but I suspect plenty of readers just think he’s a bit of a dick. So, my basic starting point for Westphall was that he wasn’t Hutton. He doesn’t swear, he doesn’t sleep around, he’s calm, he’s reflective. He is melancholic, but all my leading characters are melancholic. The way the narrative develops then really stems from the character. Slow, measured, stopping to think on a regular basis.
The idea of the fellow turning up having been declared dead twelve years previously just came to me out of nowhere. Sounded intriguing, and that was all I had when I started writing the book, trusting myself to come up with a decent explanation along the way.
3. What did the process for writing this book look like? Did it involve much research?
Zero research. We’d just arrived in Estonia, where Kathryn was posted to the British embassy. I loved Tallinn. Straight off the bat, felt at home. We were there three years, and I’d move back in a shot if circumstances allowed.
I wanted to set the book there, but was aware that I really didn’t know the place. So, I used the narrative of an outsider arriving fresh in the country, and we see it through his eyes. It allowed me to be unfamiliar. It did get picked up and translated into Estonian, so hopefully I did a decent job in not offending anyone, or sounding naïve about the local culture.
4. This book has a lot of tough subjects (inc. loss, grief, suicide, crime), were these difficult to write about? And did you find it difficult balancing these within the book?
I find the melancholia really easy to access, very natural to write. There’s no reason for it. No childhood trauma, no PTSD. We all are the way we are, I guess, whatever that is. The story of Dorothy, which is really a small, sad, standalone tale detached from the main narrative, comes from me imagining what I’d do differently with my life if I was suddenly tossed back to university, and thinking through logically how bad that has the potential to be.
It’s interesting though that in the main narrative, there’s not a huge amount of grief, or sense of loss. We don’t really care about the victims, as we don’t particularly get to know them. That’s fairly common in my books. I like the detachment from real life, which is why the narrative is infused with the fantastical.
5. The book has two main settings, Scotland and Estonia, why did you choose to write with two setting and why these specifically?
Well, I’ve explained Estonia. It just felt like home. And the other place that feels like home is Scotland, of course. Since 1992, I’ve only lived there for two years, but the sense of place never leaves you. Those two years were spent living in Dingwall, and I have a lot of family up in that area, so I know it well. Not being a big reader of my fellows’ crime novels, I’ve no idea if there are any other detective series set in Ross-shire. I decided not to be bother checking. Just in case. The Highlands in general are such an extraordinary area to use in literature, and being based in Dingwall, does give scope to use such a huge swathe of the country. Again, no research, so I’ve no idea what area of the Highlands detectives out of Dingwall would cover. Maybe there aren’t even detectives in Dingwall…
6. This book is written in first person, was this a conscious decision?
It’s limiting, of course, in the sense of reporting the narrative of the story. You only ever know what the main detective knows. You can’t have things happening over there, somewhere else, where the detective isn’t. (Unless you cheat, and have third-person chapters, which in fact I do with DS Hutton, but decided not to do with Westphall.)
I do find first person very easy to write, however. Hutton, actually, is much easier than Westphall, because he’s so unfiltered. So, that was partly it, but it was also the issue I referred to previously. Setting the book somewhere with which I was so unfamiliar, if it had been written in the third person, I really would’ve had to get to know my town and the country a lot better. But I enjoyed the first person, stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect, so I didn’t feel like I was cheating in not researching. The narrative felt very natural.
7. I found DI Westphall really interesting, refreshing to have a character who isn’t perfect (eg fear of flying), did you find it importantthat he had flaws?
The flaws are the interesting bits. I also don’t see fear of flying as a flaw, by the way. It’s common sense! That was the downside of living in Estonia, the three-hour flight, which always seemed to last so much longer, back to the UK. I’d’ve driven every time if it had been practical.
The early Bond novels were a big influence on my writing. I remember always being more interested in Bond, his character and his flaws, than in whatever international espionage story he ended up involved in. I could’ve read three hundred pages of Bond being bored in London. And the man in those novels was so much more flawed that Connery or Moore ever were. I guess, now with Daniel Craig, they make him a little more human. But I remember a scene where Bond’s in the Caribbean, flying through a storm in a passenger plane, and he’s terrified, and I thought, that’s more like it.
8. Was ‘Song of the Dead’ always going to be part of a series?
That was always going to be publisher driven. Could I find one in the first place, and what would they like to do with it? I publish a lot of books myself through Amazon, but I wrote this one with intent of finding someone else to do it. It was initially picked up by Freight Books, and when they folded just before they were due to publish the second in the series, it was taken on by Mulholland/Hodder. They wanted three off the bat, but sadly it doesn’t look like they want any more. Unless something happens (in terms of sales or TV rights, neither of which seems likely at the moment), Westphall is probably done.
9. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Get on with it. It’s very easy to get bogged down in detail, to find reasons why you end up not writing much, or to give in to not feeling it on any particular day. I always think you should try to write through the bad days, hope that something comes out of it. You can always rewrite, and if ultimately you have to bin something because it’s bad, then it’s no different from not writing it in the first place. Better to get something down. The story will always grow and develop in the writing.
When you’re done, always, always, always print the book off and read it out loud. And try to do it in a day or two. It doesn’t just help with dialogue, but it really helps spot repetition, general typos, and even plot holes.
Then repeat at least once more, if not a couple of times. It gets boring, but it really helps the final polish.
10. Would you like to share anything else about ‘Song of the Dead’?
I like it. That isn’t always the case. I’m not, for example, particularly fond of the second Westphall book, BOY IN THE WELL. It was unusually a struggle to write, and I never really lost the sense of it not working. If I ever see a good review for it, I think, wow, dodged a bullet there. On the other hand, the third book, THE ART OF DYING, is my favourite of my own crime novels. Think it works really well.
I took the title of Book 2 from the REM song, and for Book 3 from the George Harrison song. Neither book is in any way related to the songs. I have no idea where the title for Book 1 came from. Must just’ve appeared in my head one day.
I loved reading this so I hope you have too! Thanks again to Douglas for taking the time to answer them! I would highly recommend reading this book for yourself but if you want to see my thoughts on this book I have written a previous blog post on it (check it out here!)
Many thanks, Caitlin x
(PS please feel free to like, comment and share x)
This weeks author Q&A features author of ‘The two lives of Louis and Louise’ Julie Cohen
I have previously written a blog post about this book (Check it out here) and if you have read you will know I absolutely loved this book.
I reached out to Julie to see if she could possibly answer a few questions for this blog and she said YES! (thank you again !). I loved reading all her answers and I hope you do to.
What made you want to become a writer, and have you always wanted to be an author?
I’ve always been a reader, and reading great books make me want to write them. It was my dream as a little girl to write a book that would have a place on the shelves of the Rumford Public Library, where I grew up.
Did you have any specific inspiration, or influence to start writing in general, or specific to Louis and Louise ?
The idea for this particular book seemed to come out of the blue, but as a matter of fact I think it was a response to the #MeToo movement, and associated conversations about gender and power. I wondered, ‘What would it be like to write a book with one protagonist but in two separate realities—one where they were born male and one where they were born female?’ It gave me the opportunity to examine how gender and personality is shaped by how other people treat you, even before birth.
What research or process did you follow in order to write ‘Louis and Louise’?
I did some research on gender theory, specifically around the concept that gender, a social construction, is distinct from sex, which is biological. I was aided very much in this by the sensitivity reader I hired, who helped me with various ways of avoiding falling into the binary gender trap. I also did a lot of reading about toxic masculinity. Because the paper mill strike was based on a real life event, I spoke to several people who were involved in the strike.
This book is written from two different viewpoints of the same life, as Louis and Louise, as well as in two different timelines. Did you find this difficult when writing the novel and do you have any tips of anyone writing with multiple timelines and viewpoints?
I planned the two timelines separately, though I knew that some events had to happen in both stories. First I worked out what was the same in both realities, and then worked out how they would be different just because of Lou’s gender. I started with the Louise timeline, because as a woman I felt more sure of her actions and feelings and voice, but by the time I got to the midpoint of the book I was writing both Lous alternately. When I plan something difficult like this, I generally use different colour Post-its to help me keep track—I’ve got a course online to show you how to do it! https://novel-gazing-with-julie-cohen.teachable.com/p/using-post-its-to-transform-your-writing
I found this book beautiful, moving and at times dramatic. It also features the themes of gender, sexuality and stereotyping and how this affects people’s lives. Were you always planning on writing a book with these themes?
Thank you! Yes, I think once I’d come up with the concept of a book exploring how other people’s conceptions of our gender affects our entire lives, all of those topics became inevitable. They’re themes that I’m really interested in anyway and which crop up again and again in my novels.
The book features some tough topics, including loss, did you find this difficult to write about?
There are a few scenes that I found incredibly difficult to write and in fact I have trouble now reading both scenes with Lou and Benny in the basement because I find them both upsetting.
You have previously said that the hometown of Lou was based off of your own hometown in Maine, was this a conscious decision~? and do you think that this aided or hindered you when writing this book?
Casablanca was very deliberately based on my home town in Maine. It’s almost identical in a lot of ways, including history and geography, and I based several incidents on things that really happened in or near the town—for example, the strike and what happens to Benny in Louis’s timeline. When I was growing up, my town was very homophobic (fortunately that has improved over the years) and that is an important part of the book, too.
Do you plan to write any more novels and if so, do you think they will feature some of the themes that Louis and Louise did?
My latest novel, SPIRITED, is a historical novel about ghost photography, and although the story is completely different, it also looks at gender roles, sexuality, sexual assault, loss, guilt, violent death, class, and the nature of love. These are things that interest me so they tend to keep cropping up. SPIRITED is out now in hardback, ebook and audio.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors and writers?
Read a lot, and write a lot, and never give up.
I hope you enjoyed reading those and if you haven’t already read the book (GO READ IT) I hope it inspires you to do so.
Many thanks, Caitlin x
(PS please feel free to like, comment and share 🙂 )