Thursday, 14 August 2014

Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival event Worse Things Happen At Home, 18 July 2014 3.30pm

Sometimes the places we should feel safest can be the scariest, the people closest to us the most dangerous of all.  What happens when the familiar world turns on you?  Acclaimed reviewer and author NJ Cooper talked to Julia Crouch, Chris Ewan, Helen Fitzgerald and Cath Staincliffe about the rise of 'domestic noir', delving into the psychological depths, exploring family dynamics, and stumbling on secrets, violence and terror that are often frighteningly close to home.

Cath Staincliffe wrote Blue Murder, Helen Fitzgerald The Cry, Julia Crouch was a Theatre Director/Playwright/Graphic Designer but all the authors write domestic noir.

Julia Crouch wrote The Long Fall in 1980 in diary form and the source is based on her own diary at 18.  Chris Ewan had a deadline and a pregnant wife and his hero had a fianc√© who was pregnant and kidnapped.  Book took nine months to write, he gave it to his publisher and one hour later his wife went into labour.  Helen Fitzgerald feared nothing in terms of writing, but once people have children, they change.

NJ Cooper's sister tried to murder her when she was just born using a needle, but the breast bone got in the way as she had no knowledge of anatomy thankfully!

Cath Staincliffe wrote Letters to My Daughters Killer to address the question of forgiveness and the victims/people left behind, how do you move on and heal?

Chris Ewan believes it is a mix of nature/nurture that drives people to kill and depends on the individual and circumstances, but this does not make them any more/less guilty, but Cath doesn't believe they are made, she thinks it is 2/3rds nurture and a 3rd nature.  It has been proved that the experiences under age 5 are significant as the sections of the brain (pre-frontal cortex) won't develop to police behaviour and nurture.  The murders need to take responsibility for their own actions but cycles of violence/poverty etc. can be a factor.  Julie feels that her main character in The Long Fall is very damaged and her anorexia is her purging herself of her life force.  Her daughter has a revelation that something happened in her childhood and she is a victim of circumstances.  Cath believes that family is more dangerous than stranger danger.

Helen Fitzgerald felt that domestic violence and football matches are connected are the courts are always filled with people who have beaten up their wives afterwards and sex offences are usually people that they know.  Drug addicts steal from their family and there is usually 35 instances of domestic violence before a victim reports it.  Two women a week are killed by their former or current partner.  The biggest deaths are children under 12, men and then people that they know.

In Before I Go To Sleep, commercial is a big factor with siblings (Freud never mentioned this).  Cath was adopted into a family in Bradford, Yorkshire and she and her eldest brother fight like cat and dog, but a mother figure to the younger brother.  When she was reunited with her Irish birth mother she has 7 brothers and sisters as her parents had gone on to marry each other.  Julia's younger brother was one of the first children to survive childhood leukemia and he developed a taste for morphine when he was in hospital, but now he works in a circus with a life-size animatronic dragon.

The authors felt that intent was an essential part of guilt.  Female sex offenders are less that 1% but in a Peter James book there is a female sex offender in it.  Cath believes that you need to make the novel authentic and emotionally intelligent and imagine being that person.  She feels domestic noir does not glamorise domestic violence as it is written from the point of view of the victim.  Julia and NJ think that fear about if you write about it it might come true and find it harder to write about it when their children were little.  Cath wrote about assisted dying in a novel (House of Lords considering this on the day of the event) and about adoption, but she cannot cope with non-fiction.  There are big issues on the small stage of a family and feels that all crime comes out of some sort of failed relationship.  Cath believes the theme becomes apparent as they are writing the story and that she hates secrets as she felt her whole life was a secret.

#Theakstonscrime   #TOPCRIME2014   #NJCooper   #JuliaCrouch   #ChrisEwan   #HelenFitzgerald   #CathStaincliffe

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