The Blood That Binds is your fourth novel in the Archer and Baines series. Do you feel writing has become easier with each book or would you say it’s pretty much the same creating process? Or are there aspects that make it even harder now than with your debut?
I guess, having spent four books with Archer and Baines and the team now, I know them pretty well, and so I feel more and more comfortable writing them. Similarly, the style and narrative voice is pretty well established now. But I think it never gets that much easier. I think most authors often suffer with imposter syndrome – this is the one where I’ll get found out – and I certainly send my baby to beta readers, my editor, reviewers and the world (!) with a sense of trepidation every time.
Did I read some social criticism between the lines regarding how desperate people are to have their five minutes of fame on television? Do you reckon this phenomenon gets worse each year and why are people are so obsessed with becoming famous?
I think it does. There’s now so much scope for being famous for being famous that people are getting on celebrity shows for failing an audition for a reality show. I doubt I’ll be getting that five minutes of fame. The TV companies keep sending my letters back unopened.
Baines harbours hope that his son is still alive and he can’t accept he will never return to him. Is it much harder for people to accept a child will never come back when there’s no hard evidence that they are dead? Can those people ever find closure for their loss?
I think it must be, if they believe there’s a chance they’re alive, but if they think there’s real hope, they’re entitled to go on hoping – and unless there’s strong reasons to believe a loved one is dead, that hope must always be there, whatever logic may tell you. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t been there can really imagine what it’s like.
Barnes lives together with the twin sister of his dead wife. To be honest, I always found this quite disturbing. How did that idea ever cross your mind? Is it maybe a protective mechanism for Baines so he doesn’t have to cope with the loss of both his wife and his child?
I’m aware that a number of readers find it a bit creepy (others are just glad Baines and Karen have got each other to cling onto). To be honest, the whole Archer and Baines setup came to me in a twenty minute break at a crime writing festival, so I’m not 100% sure where it came from. But people do tend to be attracted to similar types. I think I wanted to explore what it would be like for someone who has lost a loved one to fall in love with someone not just similar, but identical. How much both of them would wonder if he loves Karen for herself or if he’s just trying to get his dead wife, Louise, back. He’s got that pull of attraction to a woman so like the one he loved and lost, but must know it’s not a usual situation. And that’s before you think about the reaction of their families. And the whole thing must feel weirder still when he still holds hope that his son, Jack, will come back into his life one day.
There is one character in The Blood That Binds that makes a surprising change and I loved that part of the story. Unfortunately I can’t disclose what I am talking about so I won’t spoil it for your readers but you know what I mean. As people are usually creatures of habit, why the sudden turn character? Do you think everyone can change (to a certain extent) given the right circumstances?
The simple answer to your question is yes – as you say, to a certain extent – I do think people can change. There are plenty of examples of people who were headed in one direction and then turn their lives around. Something happens that causes that. I heard a boxer on the radio recently who’d been in prison and then discovered boxing and just knew his offending days were over. In the case of the character you’re talking about, I can’t say much more than that. You don’t know for sure what the reason is, because you never see the action from this character’s point of view – for a good reason. There’s ongoing question marks about them already, and if we go too far into their head, they are likely to give the game away. So it’s up to you how much you take the change at face value.
The Blood That Binds is out now so if you don’t have your copy yet what are you waiting for ??!!