Author's Insight: The Genesis of 'One of the Good Guys' – Unraveling January 2024's PREM1ER Pick

Author's Insight: The Genesis of 'One of the Good Guys' – Unraveling January 2024's PREM1ER Pick

One of the Good Guys didn’t have a specific starting point for me. There wasn’t a eureka moment where I saw or read something and found my story. It was more of a slow burn of creeping anger. In fact, in some ways, I feel like I’ve been writing this book for many years.

 

I write feminist thrillers, my subject matter often about how women are never listened to, how our experiences are ignored, our lives often curtailed, our freedoms impinged. I’ve gone on marches, read all the books, voted for the right people. I held my breath when #Metoo happened, wondering if things were actually about to change.

 

Of course certain base level changes have happened – no more sexual assault in the work place, coercive control is a recognised offence, rape will probably land you in jail. Except, talk to women about their everyday lives and it doesn’t feel like that much has altered. We’re still mainly responsible for the domestic sphere, we still statistically earn less, we’re still way more likely to be the victims of all types of abuse, we still have less opportunities, we still fear male violence in many situations.

 

As a writer of psychological thrillers I understand that often the most frightening place is inside our own homes and minds. Even when we see a change in laws it takes decades to filter down in to the domestic. Women have spent the whole of history acquiescing to men who, until relatively recently, held all the social, financial and physical power. Our survival was based on being sweet and pleasant and inoffensive.

 

But there’s something in the air right now. A feeling that we’re done playing nice. You only have to watch a little bit of reality TV to see young women refusing to put up with the toxic masculinity that dominated those shows for so long. Metoo might not have fundamentally changed things, but it’s made us angry.

 

When I started writing One of the Good Guys I kept a little strip of paper pinned above my desk. It read: women have had enough and it made me brave. I didn’t want my book to have any female victims in it, I didn’t want anyone to be saved.

 

I love walking and, about a forty minute drive from my home in Brighton, is a wild walk along a cliff path. On the route you pass three ramshackle cottages which sit right on the edge above a high drop in to treacherous seas. Sometimes I would see a woman in one of these cottages and it made me think about what it would be like to live in such an isolated spot. Naturally the first thing I thought about was the night and how scared I would be. But then I thought about what it feels like to walk alone through the darkened streets of a city and doubted I was any safer there.

 

It was on one of these walks that I worked out what I wanted to do with the story. I decided to take the traditional thriller tropes – a woman living alone on the edge of a cliff, two young women vanishing in a seaside town, a new man in the neighbourhood – and flip them on their head.

 

About a third of the book is written in the form of different types of media – social and traditional. I was very keen to do this because I think this is where misogyny is still allowed to fester. Women are still judged so harshly in these spheres, their lives like open wounds for anyone to pick through. Nowhere else do we see as clearly how high the bar is to be a good woman and how low it is to be a good man.

 

This is a book born out of the expectations involved in being a woman versus the expectations we have for ourselves. It’s a book inspired by the feeling that women are done playing nice. We can’t wait around any longer for things to change, we have to be the change. That note I wrote myself which sat above my desk for the two years it took me to write this book still sits at the heart of this story: women have had enough.

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