Do you know? I think I've just read a fiction winner before anyone else has!
J.A. Corrigan's "Falling Suns"
I was lucky to receive an advanced copy of this psychological thriller. Rachel Dune’s small son is murdered and her cousin is found guilty. As a consequence and oh so common in many of these cases, Rachel’s marriage is rocked to its core. When it seems Rachel’s life cannot get any worse, the reader begins to wonder whether Rachel’s cousin was in fact guilty and the rotten secrets harboured by some family members are revealed. The only way Rachel can cope with her awful loss is to seek to avenge her beloved son’s death.
Nothing is certain in this very cleverly but deceptively smoothly written plot. The author holds no bars in leading her readers down avenues that have no way out, back-tracking their steps again only to have another possibility open to them to explore. She had me guessing right to the end and nothing can be more satisfying than that, along with all loose story-lines neatly tied up.
I thoroughly enjoyed “Falling Suns” even though the content could be viewed as dark at times. However, these harrowing moments affect all of us in some way and the author has treated them with care.
Ms Corrigan deserves great success with “Falling Suns”, it stands on the bookshelf alongside the best thriller writers.
Feeling so excited about this book, I couldn't resist asking J.A. Corrigan a few questions which she kindly answered.
Sue: “Falling Suns” is an amazing achievement. Is it your first book?
J.A. : Thank for the compliment!
"Falling Suns" is in fact my second book. Like most debut authors I have one sitting in the drawer – that one day I intend to pull out again. It is an historical ‘literary’ thriller. Set half in 1976 (Spain and the UK) and half during the Spanish Civil War. It’s the novel I ‘cut my teeth on,’ so to speak. After writing it, I do think I became more aware of both my strengths and weaknesses as a writer, and tried to address these weaknesses in Falling Suns, but also play to my strengths too.
Sue: It seems to me that you must have spent hours plotting and planning it out. Is that true?
J.A. : I had a very clear idea of maybe three or four scenes, including the end part of the book. Then I wrote the book around these scenes. Although I knew I wanted Rachel, Jonathan and Michael Hemmings as my main characters, many of the minor characters, like Mrs. Xú, Doctor Patterson and Stanley, emerged as I wrote the story. It’s great fun when personas emerge like that, and I do believe that this gives the characters a more ‘real’ feel.
Even with my main characters I try not to plan them too much, but obviously I need to know something about them before I start. For example, in my minds eye, Rachel is tall and strong, both mentally and physically. She has to be, to contemplate what she plans to do. Jonathan was very clear inside my head.
Lovely guy, but a bit of a maverick (like Rachel). Michael was the interesting and challenging character to write – for reasons that become apparent when reading the book.
I do write very ‘organically,’ as well as outlining the major parts of the plot beforehand. But as rule, I try not to plan too much because I think then the story can become too formulaic. I think one of the most important things I learnt with writing the first book was to trust myself – that there is always an answer to a plot problem.
As one of my writer friends puts it: ‘Trust the man in the basement.’ If I have a plot issue or something that isn’t quite working, I always sleep on it (and that can be a nap in the middle of the day) – it does work!
Sue: When is "Falling Suns" available? And where can people buy it?
J.A. : "Falling Suns" will be published in paperback and Kindle on July 14th 2016. It will be available to buy at WH Smiths, and online at Amazon, Waterstones, the Guardian Bookshop, the Mail Bookshop, etc. The book is available for pre-order.
Sue: Is this your favourite genre to read?
J.A. : I do really love a good psychological thriller, mystery, espionage story, but I also like to read in other genres too. My taste is quite eclectic. I’m very partial to the ‘quiet’ novel. I also love a good historical, preferably set in in ‘modern’ history, i.e. twentieth century. I do like to read some literary fiction too – where characterisation and writing is more important than plot. I think a writer should read in all genres if possible, and preferably read in a genre that you are not actually writing in at the time!
Sue: How was your road to publishing “Falling Suns”?
J.A. :The road was/has been quite a long one, but I don’t think any more so than for other aspiring novelists. "Falling Suns" has seen four substantial redrafts, and of course the writing/publishing business is understandably slow. Everything takes time. I have had to learn to be patient – not a trait that I’m known for.
Sometimes the whole journey can be frustrating, but I’ve amassed a great circle of writer friends in the last five years, and they do keep me going. We keep each other afloat through the dark periods, and celebrate together during the better times!
Sue: What can your readers look forward to now? Is there another book in progress?
J.A. : Yes, I am in the process writing another book. It’s another dark tale, and I’m really enjoying working on it.
I do love making up stories …