Wednesday 25 March 2015

Guest post: Touched by Joanna Briscoe

Today I am thrilled to welcome to my blog, Joanna Briscoe, author of 'Touched' for a guest post.

1963: Rowena Crale and her family have recently moved into an old house in a small English village. But the house appears to be resisting all attempts at renovation. Walls ooze damp. Stains come through layers of wallpaper. Ceilings sag. And strange noises - voices - emanate from empty rooms.

As Rowena struggles with the upheaval of builders while trying to be a dutiful wife to her husband and a good mother to her five small children, her life starts to disintegrate. And then her eldest and prettiest daughter goes missing. Out in the village, a frantic search is mounted - while inside the house reveals its darkest secret: a hidden room with no windows and no obvious entrance. Boarded up, it smells of old food, disinfectant - and death...

Set in a world where appearances are everything, and nothing is as it seems, Touched is unsettling, claustrophobic, and utterly gripping.

Touched is beautifully written, and has everything you could want from a novella; crime, horror, love and much more and I am thrilled to be hosting this post today. 

Here Joanna talks about the process of writing a novella;

How I wrote this novella.
As described in my Afterword, it was a liberating experience writing a Hammer novella. I had never really thought about writing a ghost story before, and it was my publisher, Selina Walker who had the idea that I should. It did make me realise that there was that element in my fiction all along. But this was a new challenge, and it felt like a delicious, forbidden project that I couldn’t get on with until I’d finished a draft of my full length novel. I allowed myself a single afternoon to work on the idea, which came to me immediately as an image of a girl dressed in Victorian clothes on a village green. The supernatural element grew, as did my memories of childhood.

I also wanted to explore childhood in an earlier era, in which children ran free, and could encounter worrying characters.

I wanted to look at sibling jealousy, and the power of beauty, and at women’s roles in the early sixties, before feminism.

I wrote the novella in an intense, short period, working faster and more urgently than I ever had before. The edit took a lot of time and thought, but I had been shy, to an extent, of the supernatural element, and I had to bring this out more. It was the most enjoyable writing experience I’ve had to date. Writers only sometimes actually enjoy writing! This time, I truly did. I know where the setting came from; I don’t know where the plot or characters came from. They seemed to arrive pretty fully formed, and I raced to make notes on them, and started the novella that very first day, with children crossing a village green…
Touched by Joanna Briscoe, published in paperback by Hammer, 26th March 2015

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Thank you to Joanna and Phillipa Cotton at Cornerstone for allowing me me to host my first guest post!

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