I am thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for Nailing Jess. Be sure to check out the other people on the tour as it continues through to July. Today, I’m pleased to share with you a guest post from the author, Triona Scully, about the inspiration behind the novel. Be sure to check back again at 5pm for my review of the book too!
In 2006, B.B.C. released a series called ‘Life on Mars’. Set in a surreal parallel 1970’s universe, it featured Gene Hunt as the lead detective. In a nut shell, Gene Hunt was an arrogant, ignorant, un-kempt, sexist alpha male. It went on to spawn a second series, set in the eighties, called ‘Ashes to Ashes’.
In 2010 elections, Labour, in an attempt to discredit David Cameron, ran a campaign depicting Cameron as Hunt under the slogan ‘Don’t let him take Britain back to the 1980s.’ Anyone familiar with 2017 politics will appreciate how unsuccessful that campaign turned out to be. At the time, it completely backfired, and led to a surge in Cameron’s ratings. Comparing him to a lecherous, fictional, maverick made people trust him more. It was a fascinating concept.
Equally as fascinating, if a little bit depressing, was the fact that I got it. I, too, begrudgingly liked Hunt. Yeah, sure, he was a throwback to a time before humans were upright, but he was funny and irreverent and bizarrely principled, despite lacking a moral compass. And he kept us safe, not totally safe because he was perpetrating a lot of the stereotypes and sexist thinking that was fuelling the violence, but he kept us alive, or at the very least, caught our killers.
It got me to wondering how far I could take a female character and still make them likeable? What context would I have to add, to allow them limitless character flaws? In the end, the only way it seemed possible for a woman to be overweight, arrogant, corrupt, rude, indifferent and all manner of other ill disrepute was to make her alpha? Only in a world where women rule, can a woman be truly free of all the expectations of womanhood placed on women in a patriarchy.
Once I’d sourced my set, everything else sort of fell into the place. The hardest thing to do was reign it in because the question ‘If we lived in a matriarchy how would this be?… when applied to any subject can breed all manner of results. For example, one of the thought strands shelved early was in a matriarchy what would replace phallic symbols? A world where all the best places were deep underground quickly emerged.
Because I was playing with people’s deep-rooted assumptions about gender, and sex roles, I wanted to have as much familiar land-scape as possible. Therefore, Withering, in small town contemporary Matriarchal Britain, in many ways, reflects its patriarchal twin brother. Doing this allows the differences to be highlighted and lends itself to all manner of absurd scenarios, but still gives the reader enough to be able to identify with. I hope…
Release Date: June 26th 2017
Thanks to Triona for stopping by the blog today! Remember to check back later for my thoughts on the book!