Sunday, July 26, 2020

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a freelance journalist and author of the novel Perfect Liars.

Her new novel is The Truth Hurts.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I’m famously very bad at titles. I had originally called The Truth Hurts ‘Thursday House’, which is the name of the English country mansion that Drew and Poppy move in to.

My publishers came up with The Truth Hurts, and I was disproportionately excited that it had the same initials as Thursday House, which readers sometimes think was on purpose.

I think titles are extremely important – and I wish I were better at coming up with them!

What's in a name?

Usually when I write a character, their name is an easy and obvious choice. Poppy, my protagonist, was a nightmare. It was impossible to find a name which was plausible coming from her very religious and controlling mother, but also suited her as this mysterious, wild young woman.

In the end I cheated a little bit, and came up with a solution which was part of the narrative – though I can’t explain that much more without giving a massive spoiler!

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

My teenage self would have pretended she wanted to read War and Peace, but in reality she would have loved the beaches, sex scenes, fast cars, beautiful houses and great clothes that you find in The Truth Hurts.

More than anything else, my teenage self would be overjoyed to think that I was writing as a profession. I could barely have dared to dream that could happen!

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

I write in a very basic, linear fashion, as in, I start with the prologue and I finish with the final chapter, or the epilogue. Generally speaking, they present themselves fully formed. With The Truth Hurts, I had such a vivid picture of the epilogue and the prologue, that they’re in the book verbatim as I wrote the first draft.

For me the hardest part is the middle. I so often suffer from what creative writing teachers call a ‘saggy middle’, where you loose your pace. That’s where I always need the most editing.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

Poppy was the hardest character that I’ve ever written, because she’s not at all like me. The only aspect of my personality that I lent to her is her hot temper.

Drew was an interesting challenge, as I’d always written female characters and very little in terms of men. I went to all-girl boarding school, which means I still don’t fully understand about men! I had several male friends and my husband read with a focus on him, in an attempt to not just write a female character with a man’s name.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

As well as writing fiction, I work as a journalist, so I’m constantly reading other people’s stories. The germ of The Truth Hurts came from an article I read, about a woman who found a load of photographs of her husband with an ex-girlfriend in a cupboard at their house.

I think it’s a really exciting time to be a writer, in that we are exposed to more stories than ever before. If I’m feeling creatively blocked, an afternoon reading Instagram, Reddit and local online newspapers will provide me with access to hundreds of real life stories, any of which have the potential to kick off a new story.

The people in my life are a constant influence, too. Sometimes I will read back a chapter and realise that I’ve lifted elements of a friend, a co-worker or someone I knew as a child, without meaning to. Interestingly, people never seem to recognise themselves in these depictions!
Follow Rebecca Reid on Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue