Friday, 29 July 2016

Curious Arts Festival - author event - Renee Knight

by Maryom

For my third event of the festival - and bear in mind this is still only Saturday lunchtime - I went to see Renee Knight, author of psychological thriller Disclaimer, who'd whizzed down from Harrogate Crime Festival to chat with fellow author SJ Watson (Before I Go To Sleep, Second Life).
Disclaimer is the story of a middle-aged woman who one day idly picking up a book discovers that the tale told within it bears a remarkable similarity to something that once happened to her... It grew out of a previous, unpublished story which drew heavily on real life events, during the writing of which Knight began to see how awful it must be to pick up a book written by a stranger but based on your life ... and Disclaimer was born.

It's the sort of 'domestic noir' novel that seems to romp up the bestseller charts and Disclaimer is currently No1 in the Sunday Times bestsellers list, and has been translated into 30 languages. Both authors' novels fall into this bracket, of thrillers which are set firmly in seemingly happy domestic situations; the 'chill factor' being that readers can easily imagine themselves transported into such a situation, normal and happy on the surface but with secrets lurking underneath, and, after all, how well do we really know anyone? Both agreed though that 'dometic noir' is not a new genre as such but has been around for a long while - Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca and Patricia Highsmith's novels being cited as earlier examples.
Asked about influences on her writing, Renee Knight named Lionel Shriver, Zoe Heller, and Colm Toibin, and is currently reading The Circle by Dave Eggers.

The discussion moved on to their fairly similar routes to publication - the first bad novel now hidden in a drawer, the better one that gets published, the usefulness of writing courses (for getting an agent or maybe just for encouraging the budding author to make time to write), and, when all this has paid off, suddenly having to learn to write to publishers' deadlines. The life of a successful author doesn't just involve sitting in solitude writing - there are signings and book events such as this one to attend; fortunately both authors have discovered them to be surprisingly enjoyable - they certainly are for the audience.

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