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Today I am delighted to share a guest post with you by the awesome Leigh Russell for the blog tour for the publication of her new thriller The Adulterer’s Wife.

The Adulterer’s Wife was published by Bloodhound Books on 7th May 2018.

Leigh Russell - The Adulterer_s Wife_cover_high res(1)

 

Description:

Julie is devastated to learn that her husband, Paul, is having an affair. It seems her life can’t get any worse – until she comes home to find his dead body in their bed. 

When the police establish he was murdered, Julie is the obvious suspect. 

To protect her son from the terrible situation, Julie sends the teenage boy to his grandparents in Edinburgh while she fights to prove her innocence. 

With all the evidence pointing to her, the only way she can escape conviction is by discovering the true identity of her husband’s killer. 

But who really did murder Paul? 

The truth is never straightforward…

You can buy a copy of The Adulterer’s Wife via Amazon UK

 

 

DEALING WITH THE DARKNESS

So far in my writing career, I must have killed about sixty or seventy characters, at a conservative estimate. That’s a lot of murders plotted and executed on the pages of my books. Although my killers and their victims are only fictional characters, while I’m writing about them they have to give an impression of reality, or they wouldn’t seem credible to my readers. As a writer, I don’t want to be on the outside looking in on my scenes, I want to be there, listening to my characters talking to each other, watching their actions, and taking my readers there with me. The illusion has to be convincingly created for the writer as well as the reader.

In one of my first interviews, I said that my killer crawled off my pen onto the page. I had no idea where he came from. Fast forward to today, and I might say that he slid from my keyboard onto my screen. But the process is basically the same, and equally mysterious. Someone once questioned how a kindly old lady like the late wonderful PD James could create such monstrous characters. I have to confess, I was hugely gratified when an interviewer made the same remark about me. I may create vicious villains, but I’d be mortified to think that anyone might believe I would be capable of causing physical harm to another creature (excluding wasps and ants inside my house.)

Although it’s a serious question, it’s one I’ve tended to avoid answering, as I’m not sure I really want to think about it too deeply. Marcel Berlins, in The Times, described my writing as ‘psychologically acute’, and I seem to be able to walk around inside other people’s heads. In some way, my characters are imaginative extensions of my own humanity. But where do the thoughts come from when Im writing from inside the head of my killers? As my characters originate somewhere inside my own mind, I’m not sure I really want to know…

Do all the killers springing from my imagination mean that I have the capacity to become some kind of ruthless psychopath? The honest answer is that it’s unlikely. I’m certainly empathetic, moved and disturbed by the idea of suffering and death, besides which, I’m the last person you would want to have around in a medical emergency. I’m quite squeamish about blood, and panic if anyone is accidentally injured. I would be the world’s worst nurse. Yet I manage to write about people being stabbed, shot, hung, drowned, poisoned… my books cover every possible style of fatality, and I’ve certainly created characters who are far from horrified by the sight of blood, to put it mildly. 

Leaving aside those working in the medical profession, luckily I’m not unusual in my responses. People who are not horrified by their fellow human beings’ suffering and death are thankfully rare. We abhor such desperate experience in real life. So what drives us to read and write about violent death? How can we find it a source of entertainment? I’ve lost count of the number of people who tell me ‘I love a good murder!’ And it’s well known that crime writers are among the most humane people you could wish to meet.

Scenarios that would be intolerable in reality become open to exploration in fiction. Unless you visit the dark places in your mind, you cant really write about them well. So I spend a lot of my writing time thinking about the dead and the grieving people left behind. With all this killing, I do have my limits. I would never harm or kill a child in one of my books, or include a rape other than from a distance. As a mother of daughters, and a grandmother, these are areas I really don’t want to visit in my imagination. We each have our own limits within which crime writers are all exploring the darker aspects of human nature.

But of course there is more to most crime fiction than an exploration of our capacity for violence and cruelty, and the popularity of the genre isn’t based on descriptions of blood and gore. Crime writers examine the conflict between good and evil, with morally decent characters standing up against those who commit the most terrible atrocities. The more vicious the bad guys are, the more intense the conflict becomes, and the more invested the reader is in seeing the villains caught.

All literature revolves around tension of some kind. Without it, stories would lack any direction or satisfactory resolution. Whether a book is a romance, with readers rooting for two characters to connect, or a crime thriller, where the reader is trying to work out the identity of the killer and see him apprehended, narrative is by definition rarely static. The term ‘page turner’ reflects the fast pace of most modern crime thrillers. And the tension between good and bad characters is heightened when the lives of good characters are taken or threatened

Nevertheless, because this is fiction, the good characters haves to win their battles against the evil villains. As Oscar Wilde wrote, ‘The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.’ Of course in crime fiction not all the good characters can live happily ever after, as innocent victims are prematurely and violently killed. Their lives are unjustly cut short, and the characters who knew and loved them will never fully recover from their loss. But the villains are always apprehended and stopped, and moral order is restored with their containment at the end of the book.

Unlike thrillers which tend to deal with international affairs, crime fiction plumbs the depths of human nature rather than the breadth of human experience. Like diving into the ocean, the deeper you go the darker it becomes.

 

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