1. What inspired you to write THE LIE?
I wrote THE LIE because I’ve always been fascinated by the nature of female friendships, in particular the dynamics of close knit groups of friends. Most of the time female friendships are healthy and supportive – you literally trust them “with your life” – but sometimes they’re not. Sometimes they’re much more toxic than they appear, with possessiveness, resentment, bitterness, competitiveness and envy lurking under the surface.
I wanted to write a story about a group of women who appear to get along well but whose friendship is riddled with issues that none of them are willing to confront. I was curious as to what would happen if I put those friends in a dangerous, crucible-type situation where they’re forced to trust each other in order to survive? Would they support each other, or turn on each other instead?
2. Did you include any of your own real life experiences in the novel?
Like the women in the novel I went to Nepal on a holiday of a lifetime. Unlike Emma and her friends I had the most amazing time and, if anything, stronger bonds were formed amongst my friendship circle as a result of our experience. But I have also experienced friendships that weren’t
healthy – friends who were effervescent, generous, spontaneous and fun but also unpredictable, competitive, possessive and argumentative. When someone like that is at the centre of your friendship group they can get away with antisocial behaviour because everyone is aware that, if they call them on it, they’ll be frozen out. That can make for a lot of tension, isolation and mistrust – sensations I hope my readers experience when they read THE LIE.
3. Your characters are so authentic. As a writer, how do you get into their psyche?
My characters are an amalgamation of me, people I’ve known, people I’ve observed and my imagination. I always make sure I know what each character desires – something they want more than anything else in the world – and also what they fear most. I also look to their childhoods to discover how their past has shaped them into the people they are now. As well as obvious things like the way they look and the things they wear I also spend a lot of time thinking about my characters’ mannerisms, the way they hold themselves, the way they walk and the way they speak. Sometimes I know everything about a character before I start to write the novel, sometimes it’s not until I’ve written the first draft and fully got to know them.
4. Why did you decide that Emma should work in an animal sanctuary?
Emma always wanted to be a vet and, after her experience at Ekanta Yatra, I felt it made sense to give her a new start that was centred on animals rather than people. Even though she’s still quite isolated socially (she still doesn’t trust people enough to let them get close) I wanted to make her content so that, when the letters and messages start arriving, she’s got a lot to lose. I also liked the similarity between Emma and the animals she cares for. Like Jack, she’s been hurt and mistreated and needs patience and gentleness to teach her to trust and love again.
5. THE LIE has so many unexpected twists and turns. Do you sometimes even surprise yourself when you are writing?
Absolutely! When I was writing the first draft I had a pretty good idea what was going to happen but new twists occurred to me as I was writing it. That sometimes meant I had to veer off in a completely different direction from the one I was planning but that’s one of the magical things about writing, the way your mind can surprise you. It keeps you entertained as a writer and, hopefully, it means some unpredictable twists for the reader too.