We’re delighted to be on tour today showcasing The Girl Next Door by Phoebe Morgan.
Laura is sharing her thoughts plus Phoebe Morgan is in my hot seat chatting to us about her inspiration for the novel, scenes she found easy and difficult to write and much more.
One little lie just became deadly…
Perfect mother. Perfect wife. Jane Goodwin has spent years building her picture-perfect life in the quiet town of Ashdon.
So when the girl next door, sixteen-year-old Clare Edwards, is found murdered, Jane knows she must first protect her family.
Every marriage has a few white lies and hers is no exception. Jane’s worked hard to cover up her dark secret from all those years ago – and she’ll do anything to keep it hidden…
The Girl Next Door is published by HQ (21st February 2019) and is available to purchase in digital, paperback and audiobook formats.
Hi Phoebe, welcome to Jera’s Jamboree.
Please summarise The Girl Next Door in 20 words or less.
The Girl Next Door is a claustrophobic thriller about the secrets hiding behind closed doors in a small Essex town.
What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?
I used to live in a place called Ashdon but this isn’t really the same place – however the name of the village did inspire me to start creating this town. I’m fascinated by small communities, particularly by the politics of school gates and PTA mothers, and I wanted to bring everything to a head by introducing a murder to a gossipy place. I have always been interested in how communities can turn nasty, even if they may seem delightful on the outside!
If you could choose to be one of your characters Phoebe, who would you be?
Oh I would love to have Jane’s conniving ways in this book, even though she’s quite a dislikeable character she was so much fun to write and I sometimes wish I had the audacity to say the bitchy little asides she says!
Please tell us more about the characters in your novel.
There are three main points of view – Jane Goodwin, who is a mother of three, a perfect wife and committed member of the town, DS Madeline Shaw, who is a steadfast, well-meaning detective intent on solving the murder case, and Clare Edwards, a sixteen year old schoolgirl who is found dead in a local field right at the beginning of the book. Throughout the novel we see flashbacks to the day she died – and we finally find out why in the final pages. I loved writing these three female characters, and it was interesting speaking to a former police officer to make Madeline’s chapters as accurate as I could.
What scene did you enjoy writing the most?
I really enjoyed writing the scenes where Jane is sitting gossiping around wine and crisps with her mum friends. I’m not a mother myself but it was great fun to imagine the kinds of things these women might talk about, and give the reader little insights into the tensions and secrets hiding behind a picture-perfect town.
… and the hardest?
I found writing some of the police focused scenes a bit harder, as it required a more in-depth knowledge of the police investigation process and all that it involves – DNA tests, timings, the language they would use. I’ve allowed myself some artistic license with it all though, as after all, this is fiction!
If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be …
Don’t trust anyone… not until the final sentence!
Do you have a theme for your book covers Phoebe? Who designs them?
They are designed by a lovely, talented woman called Anna Sikorska at HQ, HarperCollins. She designed both jackets, for my first book The Doll House and then for The Girl Next Door too. I hope she does my next one because she’s brilliant! They’re very bright and I think they’re nicely eye-catching.
Do you have a most creative time of day?
I find I work best during the daytime, so at a weekend if I can carve out a good few hours I can get quite a bit done. I work full time so during the week my writing time is relegated to evenings, when I’m already a bit tired! But a lovely Saturday daytime writing session can be really productive for me.
Panster or plotter?
I’m a pantser! I always wish I could be a plotter, it would mean I had to do less re-drafting, but I usually have the germ of an idea and then run with it. I often have a good idea of the ending of the book when I start, although that has been known to change along the way!
Finally, can you share with us what you are working on now?
My next book is about a couple who are on holiday in France when the doorbell rings. It’s the police – arresting the man for a murder back in England. And then a baby goes missing… It’s out in 2020!
Thank you for being my guest today.
Now over to Laura for her thoughts on The Girl Next Door.
The Girl Next Door is a wonderful example of suspense writing. It’s a psychological thriller following the murder investigation of Clare Edwards, a 16-year-old girl, from the quiet town of Ashdon.
The chapters are mainly shared between Jane Goodwin, a neighbour of Clare, DS Madeline Shaw and a diary style voice of Clare, leading up to her death. I enjoyed all these chapters as this format kept the story fast paced and gripping. On occasion I had to keep reading as several chapters ended with a new twist.
At times several of the characters looked guilty as there are plenty of twists and turns. Even though I guessed the murderer, it didn’t spoil the book as the build up and ending were not predicted. I guessed the who but not the why, how or outcome.
Phoebe Morgan’s writing is gripping, with believable characters, a shocking ending and hard hitting theme of domestic violence. A great read. Recommended.
Phoebe Morgan is an author and senior commissioning editor. She studied English at Leeds University after growing up in the Suffolk countryside. She has previously worked as a journalist and now edits crime and women’s fiction for a publishing house during the day, and writes her own books in the evenings. She lives in London and you can follow her on Twitter @Phoebe_A_Morgan, or find her blog about publishing and writing at phoebemorganauthor.com. The Doll House is her debut novel. It became a #1 iBooks bestseller and spent over 8 weeks in the Kindle top 100. Her second book, The Girl Next Door, will be out on 21st February 2019 in paperback, ebook and audio, and a third will follow in 2020.