Today I am happy to welcome Maggy Farrell to Chouett.com with a small Q&A session.
Maggy’s “Guil Trip” was one of the first Read4Review title I came across last year and is a dark YA read with a twist that I really enjoyed and you can read all about it here.
If you want to know a little more about Maggy before you pick up “Guilt Trip” here’s what we talked about.
- Why did you choose to write a psychological thriller as your debut novel?
I’m not sure I ‘chose’ anything. It just happened. One day, about four or five years ago, my daughter asked me what happens when we die and, having run through all the various options with her, I started thinking…
And the thought just kept on growing. And so I started writing. And it grew and grew as I wrote.
As for making it a ‘psychological thriller’, that just happened too. Obviously, the story was always going to include some supernatural elements as the whole concept was based round that, but I’m not a horror girl, and I don’t like ‘gore’, so I naturally moved more towards the psychological trauma of the main character. Melissa’s inner struggles. And I found those absolutely fascinating to work through.
- Adults/teenagers relationships are met with such controversy in our society, why did you decide to write about it? And did you expect a backlash?
I didn’t consciously sit down and decide ‘I must write about a controversial subject’ – it’s just that my idea wouldn’t work if the age gap were any smaller, as those who’ve read the book will understand.
That being said, once I realised that this was the way the story was going, I was more than happy to follow it. I love the disturbing element the relationship brings to the book – and I deliberately play with it for maximum effect.
And so I make sure that Luke is definitely seen as one of the grown-ups. He and Melissa’s dad have a lot in common: they share the same interests; they join together in gently teasing her; and in some ways they both take on the role of parent to her. Luke is a replacement father-figure, the person Melissa inevitably turns to when her own father lets her down. And this fact makes us very uneasy.
On the other hand, Melissa is our narrator and therefore we experience everything through her: the excitement, the butterflies in the stomach, the thrill of attraction. She is a young girl in love for the first time. And we can’t help but take pleasure in this.
But this puts us in a difficult position. For even as we are enjoying her blossoming relationship, we cannot help but be anxious about Luke’s intentions towards her. And this makes for a very tense and suspenseful read.
- The ending of the story is shockingly twisted, were you considering any alternative ending or did you know it was the only way this could end?
I didn’t know what the ending would be until about halfway through the first draft, when I was busy on a passage trying to convey how much Melissa loves her father. And then it suddenly hit me. And it was so obvious! I remember running downstairs to my husband shouting: “I’ve got it! I’ve got it!”
- Have you got any plans to write a second novel?
Yes – I am in the middle of another psychological thriller. I can’t tell you anything about it except that the inspiration for it comes from my very Catholic upbringing – and that I am finding the whole subject absolutely riveting!
- Since you like a little bit of thrill, which writer would you want to do a bungee jump with?
Bungee jump? No. I may have done parachuting and abseiling in the past, but I was clearly a mad, impulsive fool. Still, it taught me one thing: I DEFINITELY HATE HEIGHTS!
But I’d quite happily share a flagon of Canary Wine (or whatever) with William Shakespeare.
In a story I wrote a few years ago (which I must go back to), my heroine had a cup of tea and a slice of fruitcake with the ghost of Shakespeare. He was a very animated character in his enormous white shirt and rumpled tights, who gesticulated wildly whenever he spoke so that his tea kept slopping over the edge of his cup and into his saucer. And I totally fell in love with him.
- Would you go back to writing stories with a more theatrical element just like the rock opera you wrote at an earlier age?
I wouldn’t rule it out! I know new writers are encouraged to market themselves like consumer products – something which can be neatly boxed and labelled and sat on a specific ‘shelf’. But that’s not actually how it works. I have many sides and many moods and when inspiration strikes – no matter what it is – I just start writing.
- Can you tell us “10 things” we don’t know about Maggy Farrell?
- I have just moved back to the UK after living in the Netherlands for fifteen years.
- I spell Maggy with a ‘y’ instead of ‘ie’ because that’s how I spelled it as a child – and it stuck.
- When I studied ballet in my teens, my teacher insisted on calling me ‘Margot’.
- I am married to my first love. We met when we were thirteen.
- At 10yrs old, when my school was performing Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, I wrote a rock opera of my own.
- According to the children’s height charts in shops, I am 11-12yrs old.
- Before I began writing full-time, I was an English literature teacher for 11-18yr olds. And yes – they were all bigger than me!
- Before becoming a teacher, I spent five years working for The Body Shop in London, getting through pints of their strawberry shampoo and drowning myself in their Chypre perfume oil every day.
- I once did an MA in Film which involved lying on the sofa for two years watching Hitchcock movies. Fabulous!
- As a child my family went on holiday to the North Yorkshire countryside every summer -and I have been going back regularly all my life. I absolutely love the place. No surprise then that the setting in Guilt Trip bears a remarkable resemblance to it.
Thanks for sharing Maggy!!