It’s time for another Friday Reads blog and this week my featured book is the gripping psychological thriller, Keep Her Safe, by Jen Faulkner. So grab yourself a cuppa, get comfy and let’s get talking to Jen.
A mother is gripped by fear as her daughter approaches adulthood, in this novel of attachments, anxieties, and buried secrets . . .
How far would you go to protect your daughter?
Catherine’s daughter is about to leave for university. Although she knows worrying about this is normal, she’s becoming increasingly anxious about Anya’s safety. And that anxiety is starting to take over her life . . .
She’s fallen back into a habit of going into Anya’s bedroom when she sleeps to watch her breathe, and is secretly tracking her daughter’s movements on an app.
Anya, struggling with her mum’s suffocating behaviour, hides her own anxieties about leaving home for fear of panicking her mother further.
But with Anya preparing to move out, who will check on her and keep her safe?
Do other people pose a threat or is her own mother the one she should be afraid of?
I fell asleep, and now she’ll die.
Her chest rises and falls beneath the sky-blue blanket, but her hand is cold to touch. The energy beneath her pale skin is missing, as though her soul has flown away and her body hasn’t caught up. The opposite of earlier today, when life radiated from her smiling face and the freckles on her cheeks darkened in the dappled sunlight. When her curly hair bounced as she weaved through the woodland trees ahead of me, pushing the overgrowth out of her way and shouting, ‘Hurry up, Mum.’ The smell of wild garlic propelled her forward. The chirps of the birds cheered her on. But my heavy legs could go no faster.
‘Slow down,’ I’d called. ‘You’re too quick.’ Too full of life, I’d thought. I regret that now.
Branches on the tree outside the window brush against the glass as if trying to caress me and take away my pain.
But they can’t.
Because I fell asleep, and now she’ll die.
Ingrigued? You can buy the book here: Amazon
Welcome to my blog, Jen. Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes, for as long as I can remember. I even remember the excitement from writing my full name properly for the very first time. The library was always my favourite place. As a child I wrote diaries, short stories, poems and rarely went anywhere without a notebook. Some of my early poems are questionable, especially the one about a lonely slug, but they give my family and friends a much needed chuckle.
The lonely slug story sounds fun! Has any author inspired you?
Daphne Du Maurier was one of the first authors I was in awe of and inspired by. Growing up in Cornwall I was always thrilled when we’d drive by Jamaica Inn. That books still haunts me now, but in a good way. She’s incredible.
What do you like writing most?
When writing a novel I love writing inner monologues or trains of thought in order to get to know my characters a little better, especially if they’re in the mood to have a rant. It can be very cathartic.
That sounds a great idea. Do you have a special place for writing?
I am lucky enough to have my own room for writing at home, which overlooks my gorgeous garden. Everyone in my family knows that if the door is shut then I am not to be disturbed. I recently treated myself to a second hand fancy desk chair, and it is so comfortable, which is important as I spend a lot of time in it!
Are you a pantster or a plotter?
Plotter all the way. I pantsed my first two novels and they didn’t get published, then with Keep Her Safe, my third novel, I knew I had to try a different approach. And it worked. My plots do change as I write, but I cannot start with nothing. I use a document I made based on the Save the Cat Beat Sheets and it really helps set everything out and make sure the pace and tension are right.
Is your writing ever inspired by your family or real life incidents?
I’m always inspired by conversations I have with people. Something will spark interest in me and get me excited to research. For example, the other day I was talking to someone about going to America and she told me that they nearly didn’t let her in once as her fingerprints are scarily close to those of a criminal on the run. Not sure when I’ll use it, but I had to write that down!
I love little snippets of information like that. What are you writing at the moment?
At the moment I am editing my next novel, due to be published in January 2024. I needed to do some quite big structural edits, so it’s taking a lot of brainpower and time!
Good luck! What inspired you to write this next book?
Although my next book isn’t about covid in any way, shape or form, it was inspired by the differing levels of rule following throughout the pandemic. I had to shield two of my three children and so rule following was incredibly important to me at the time, and my expectations were very high. I was fascinated by how everyone was reacting and behaving differently. It made sense then to have two protagonists, one who followed the rules, and one who went out of her way to break them.
That sounds intriguing. What time of the day do you write best?
My favourite time to write is about four or five o’clock in the afternoon. The pressure is off at that time and I don’t feel overwhelmed at the thought of maybe sitting at my desk all day. Then I can write into the evening.
What are your hobbies?
Reading, obviously! But I also love karate and tennis and practise most weeks. I also love to bake!
And finally, what advice would you give to other writers?
Persist, always. Write because you can’t not.
Great advice! Thanks so much for dropping by to talk to us today, Jen. I hope your book flies!
After fifteen years as a primary school teacher, Jen Faulkner completed an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University in 2015, where she was shortlisted for the Janklow and Nesbitt Prize. When she is not writing she can usually be found in the kitchen baking, or out walking her dog. She is currently plotting and writing her next novel, about how a shared traumatic event can affect two people in very different ways.
Author contact links
Instagram: Jen Faulkner https://www.instagram.com/jenfaulknerwriter