Each week, we invite our Crime Cymru authors to tell us a bit about themselves and their writing. This week, Beverley Jones talks about her new psychological crime novel Wilderness and why you should choose your travel companions carefully.
Location, location, location.
I’ve always been a sucker for novels, TV shows and movies with a setting so integral to the story that they really couldn’t take place anywhere else. That’s why, years before I ever visited New York city, it won my heart as the perfect platform for tales of glamour, grime, dreams and disillusionment.
It’s no accident I’ve set half my current psychological thriller, Wilderness, in Manhattan, where Olivia should be enjoying the high life among the bright lights of the big city, but instead finds herself devastated by the discovery of her husband’s affair.
With their marriage in tatters, the movie-set metropolis she’s fallen in love with takes on a sinister aspect as she prowls the streets, hurt and betrayed. Then there’s the 1500-mile road trip coming up, a supposed dream holiday that suddenly offers ‘contingencies’ to deal with cheating Will that wouldn’t exist anywhere else. Because Liv soon realises it’s dangerous out there, in the wilds of America’s national parks, away from phone signals and civilisation.
Perfect selfie spot or scenery to die for?
The novel was inspired by a breath-taking road trip I took with my husband, through the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and Yosemite National Park. (Just to say here, Yosemite ruined my life – dramatic but true, as no holiday destination could ever live up to that one!) Naturally, there was a lot more wonder, wine and Navajo fry bread on our trip than angst, plotting and secrets. But that journey, strewn with perfect photo opportunities, sparked an idea in my head that buzzed like a high Sierra mosquito until I swatted it onto the page.
Out among the vast forests and granite cliffs, the red rock drama of the desert, I kept thinking – what if a dream holiday like this had turned sour and someone had plans to go off the official route in more ways than one?
Of course, it’s easy to indulge in the clichés of the wronged woman and the dastardly cheating husband. How many times have we been shown a jilted wife cutting up the scumbag’s clothes, sinking wine with friends and eating a tub of ice cream before rallying into the arms of a convenient new beau when the divorce settlement comes her way? Then there’s the homicidal ‘fatal attraction’ cliché of the ‘if I can’t have him, no one can’ harpy.
Instead, I wanted to look at the emotional devastation an affair leaves behind, the doubt, the re-evaluation of a reality you thought was safe and sound. The emotional landscape around Livia has been thrown into chaos – the internal compass that connects her to her husband, home and who she is has lost its true north.
As she tries to come to terms with the fact she’s no different to a million betrayed women before her, she has to decide if her marriage is worth saving, if Will deserves a second chance. But how can she really be sure when she’s lost in a psychological wilderness very different to, but just as deadly, as the one out there?
Dream holiday or final destination?
I love a backwoods thriller, where hapless travellers find themselves at the mercy of circumstances or, often worse, the inhabitants they can’t avoid. But in this case, what excited me was the feeling that the most dangerous thing Will could encounter might already be sitting in the car next to him. As Liv’s survival instinct kicks in, the idea of a reckoning or a reunion out there, where no one is watching, starts to take over.
You’ll have to read the novel to find out who makes it back alive, and if the urban jungle of New York offers any safety, but hopefully it’s a trip that won’t be easy to forget.
Of course, there was a touch of irony in releasing a novel about a 1500-mile road trip in the middle of a pandemic when, for months, no one was able to go further than the end of their street, and then only once a day. I guess it’s a good job books will always be there to make armchair travellers of us all, and, as Will may discover too late, sometimes it’s a lot safer to stay at home.
Read more about B E Jones.
You can order your copy of Wilderness here.
To find out more about B E Jones’ books, follow the link to her Amazon page.