Revenge: A dish best eaten cold? Guest Post by JA Corrigan

Final cover high resPlease welcome debut author JA Corrigan to the blog. JA’s novel, Falling Suns, is published on 14th July by award-winning press, Accent, and it is a cracking read. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Here, she talks about revenge and its links to tragedy tradition. Thank you, JA.

The Revenge Plot is one of the oldest in history and sits easily alongside The Tragedy Plot. In fact, as the most famous of revenge plots shows us – Shakespeare’s Hamlet of course – revenge and tragedy are inextricably linked.

I pondered on this for some time.

Are they linked because essentially revenge is an unethical act and so therefore the result of retribution will always be tragic or, is the desire for revenge a natural human instinct that through religious and spiritual teachings has been demonised? The ultimate act of revenge is murder; a sin within all the major religions of the world, and in all civilised societies, a crime.

The thirst for revenge is one of the oldest human compulsions, and so using it as a theme in a novel, play or poem, stands up there as a premise that will always be interesting, throw up questions and cause angst – for both the writer and the reader. Revenge is often the precursor to a tragedy, just as much as the love story. The outcome of the act of retribution, I decided, could never be a good one.

And yet, the need and desire to ‘put right’ a wrongdoing, a brutal act, is so strong, and so much built into the human psyche that it is a storyline that for me, was hard to resist.

There can be no revenge without its ramification – that of tragedy.

Alongside the theme of revenge sat the idea of the strongest of human emotions – that of maternal love – and this too emerged as part of the premise for my story. Rachel adores her son and yet … in the opening of the novel we sense that this is not enough for her, that she wants and needs to return to her job, and with this realisation the seed is sown that Joe’s disappearance is somehow her fault.

In the early stages of planning my story, and with the theme of uncompromising maternal love imprinted inside my mind, I began to have the thought of how I could turn the trope of maternal love upside down and push it inside out. How an emotion that is considered good and nurturing can become bad and parasitic.

I knew I had to explore both.

When I first began to outline the plot for Falling Suns I did wrestle with myself. Could I possibly have a protagonist, and maintain my readers’ sympathy for her, when she is planning revenge and cold-blooded murder?

In the comfort of our own home, sitting on the sofa, many of us have said: ‘If he/she did that to one of mine I’d kill them.’ Fortunately this scenario is rare; i.e. that the person saying the sentence will actually be placed within the tragic circumstances to carry out such a threat. But what if you are placed in that position? What if your child was brutally murdered by a person that in time you were able to confront … and take revenge by taking the murderer’s life? What if you possessed all the tools, the emotional and mental strength to do what others could only imagine? What if?

This is the premise for Falling Suns: that Rachel Dune, the distraught and grieving mother, plans her revenge on the man who has been placed in a psychiatric unit for the brutal murder of her son. But as the story unfolds and as Rachel begins to unearth from the depths of her consciousness her own past, she begins to question that perhaps revenge is not what will appease her grief. As with many revenge plots there are other variables at play for Rachel, and it is not until she is able to explore these other factors that she slowly recognises the flaws in her plan, and the defects within her own family.

Revenge for Rachel is a need; a need that could destroy her, a need that can only end in tragedy – but not the tragedy that she herself foresees.

It is the tragedy of her past and all that lives there.

Blurb:

faalling suns preA psychological thriller for fans of Belinda Bauer, Mark Edwards, Clare Mackintosh – a dark and brooding tale about the horrors that can lurk within a family.

Ex-DI Rachel Dune’s small son is missing. Then his body is discovered. Her cousin Michael is found guilty of his murder and incarcerated in a secure psychiatric unit.

Four years later, now divorced and back in the police force, Rachel discovers that Michael is being released to a less secure step-down unit, with his freedom a likely eventuality. Unable to cope with this, she decides upon revenge, assuming a new identity to hunt him down. However, as she closes in on her target, her friend Jonathan, a journalist, uncovers unnerving information about her mother and others in her family. Jonathan begins to suspect that Rachel’s perception of the truth might not be as accurate as she thinks.

About JA Corrigan

DSC_1184JA Corrigan is originally from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, but now lives in Berkshire and shares her life with a husband, a teenage daughter and a cute cockapoo.

When not writing she is either walking the dog, reading, or cooking. She also likes to run, and drink white wine infused with hints of vanilla or gooseberries.

Falling Suns is a great, tense read. You can check out my review here.

To buy Falling Suns:

https://www.waterstones.com/book/falling-suns/julie-ann-corrigan/j-a-corrigan/9781786152497

https://bookshop.theguardian.com/catalog/product/view/id/414323/

http://amzn.to/1YbkLHg (PB)

http://amzn.to/1OekOQZ (Kindle)

http://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/falling-suns/9781786152497

Advertisements

To like or not to like, that is the question

12647022_992347720830764_8095646730563354970_n

Me, the pleaser, smiling for the camera (of course)

Commonly, we like to like our fictional heroes and heroines, and within some genres it is considered literary suicide to have a lead that isn’t very nice. Before I completed Redemption Song, had I been asked, I would have said I prefer stories with a likable protagonist: I adore Lou in Me Before You, Annie and Kate in The Day We Disappeared.

However, once the first draft was down and I knuckled down to the real business of writing – rewriting – I realised that while I love Saffron, my lead, her behaviour isn’t always likable, especially at the novel’s opening. I pondered whether to increase her nice factor but in the end decided that readers must see her warts and all. She is a good person; she just doesn’t always present that way!

And I began to dig a little deeper into my own likes and dislikes. Were my favourite literary heroines all lovely? No, as it turned out … Katniss Everdeen, Lisbeth Salander, Emma Bovary, Emma Woodhouse, Becky Sharp, the list goes on. These are women I find fascinating, but always nice? Definitely not. The more I thought about it, the more I acknowledged my penchant for difficult characters, difficult female characters in particular. Why is this?

Novels with some of my favourite kick-ass heroines

Novels with some of my favourite kick-ass heroines

It stems, I believe, from a dream to be the rebel, the feisty girl who does as she pleases, who kicks ass, metaphorically if not literally. Like a great many women – more than men, I believe – from childhood I have been a ‘pleaser’. Pleasing others equals likability and acceptance, and if you need proof that girls seek approval more than boys, spend some time in a primary school classroom! As a girl, I would often set aside my desires and ambitions rather than risk upsetting others. As the years have passed, I have become better at not always being selfless, but I still find it extremely difficult to say no. This is why I enjoy those heroines who don’t give a damn what others think (some of the time), who are unafraid to pursue their desires, who behave badly sometimes, who forge a new path, who are unafraid of unpopularity. And the irony is that it is precisely these types of women who often become role models and national treasures. In real life I’m thinking of the likes of Caitlin Moran and Suzanne Moore.

An author I respect, Lionel Shriver, said some years ago: ‘Goodness is not only boring but downright annoying… When fiction works, readers can develop the same nuanced, conflicted relationships to characters that they have to their own friends and family.’

Hear, hear.

And now that Saffron from Redemption Song is out here in the world, I must turn my attention to Diana, the protagonist in my next novel, Skin Deep. A former model and an artist, she is beautiful, talented, messed-up, thoughtless, selfish and needy. Another challenge, in essence!

Have a lovely weekend, people,

Laura x

mothers dayredsong

From place to place

Today I’ve been guesting at Lynne Shelby‘s blog on her regular A Sense of Place slot. Of course, I talk about the setting in Redemption Song, my latest, but I also talk about the locations in my other novels and in the one that is still to come … scheduled for publication in March next year. Skin Deep probably has the most unusual location – a sink estate in Manchester that was demolished in the mid-90s, way before the story of Diana and Cal arrived in my head. Pop over and find out more … HERE.

redemantivsal

Blog tour day 7: Location, location, location!

I’m on home turf for today’s guest blog – over at my publisher, Accent Press’s place, talking about the value of place, or setting if you prefer. Blog tour listingsFINAL

http://accenthub.com/place-value-by-laura-wilkinson/

And here are a few shots of Llandudno, the inspiration behind my fictional town, Coed Mawr.

A dilapidated pier ballustrade

A dilapidated pier ballustrade

Beautiful Llandudno in north Wales

Beautiful Llandudno in north Wales

Boots, bottoms and pants

2016-01-25 13.50.46Gosh, there are just three days to go before *Publication Day* of Redemption Song. Nervous and excited, I don’t know what to do with myself half the time. I have, however, chosen my footwear for the launch so that’s a relief. I always work from the bottom up, and I adore these old (shoe)boots, even if they do cripple me. I’ll need a hand staggering to the pub afterwards that’s for sure. And talking of bottoms…

Planner or Pantser? I’ve an article on process in the super-fabulous Nudge magazine (formely New Books) which you might find interesting, especially if you’re a writer. Here’s the link: http://www.nudge-book.com/blog/2016/01/im-a-writer-and-i-dont-know-whether-im-a-pantser-or-a-planner/

See you again soon!

Laura x