Hello book lovers, welcome back! As usual, today’s #TalkTuesday interview is also our #TeaserTuesday, #BookBeginnings and First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros! Enjoy!
The Keeper by Jessica Moor is a very compelling story. This story is part literary fiction and part police procedural that explores coercive control, domestic violence, and how a woman can have her identity gradually eroded. It is very relevant today because statistics are showing that with the lock down due to the Corona Virus domestic violence is on the upswing.
Readers first meet Katie Shaw as she is lying on a slab. The mystery begins with the police questioning whether it was a suicide or a murder, and if so, who was the killer? The reason DS Whitworth and DC Brook look at it more closely is that the occupants at Women’s Aid, a refuge center where Katie worked, strongly believe that someone was responsible for her death.
In an alternating narrative, Katie relates the deterioration of her relationship with boyfriend Jamie, who’s initially indulgent, overprotective, and then becomes isolating, controlling, and manipulative. Jamie appears to be a personable and charming man, but he became a monster, with the relationship sliding from romance to abuse. Through Katie’s eyes, Moor shows how an intelligent, resourceful woman could become trapped in an abusive relationship. The story showed how easy it is to be manipulated, no matter how smart. Her life morphed into one of terror, leaving Katie devoid of psychological strength, frightened, and experiencing physical/emotional abuse.
Readers take a journey with the character as they want to desperately help Katie out. This is a powerful debut from Jessica Moor, looking at the tragic, secretive and harrowing complex world of domestic violence. The author builds up the tension well and successfully gives women of domestic violence a voice.
Elise Cooper: Why did you decide to write a novel?
Jess Moor: I was reading a book while studying form my creative writing degree. It focused on how novels bring things together. Also, I finished a year at working at a domestic violence shelter. I thought how the shelters bring people together from different backgrounds and different approaches to life. I started to think about crime fiction and how I wanted to turn clichés on their heads. Then it all came together.
EC: What writers influenced you?
JM: Kate Atkinson. A God in Ruins is a perfect novel. She is more of a literary writer, who uses the crime genre. But what influenced me more is crime TV, particularly the original Danish version of “The Killing.” I love what Sally Wainwright does by exploring crime drama through a cross section of society with strong female leads. She uses the structure of the case to tell a story.
EC: What about the clichés?
JM: The idea of all seeing and an all-knowing detective who is capable of seeing things others don’t see. Those who faced domestic violence were really let down by the criminal justice system. Another cliché is the idea of a women’s body being laid out on the slab. I did not want her as a device, but a character, to examine the woman behind the body. We should not be numb to the statistics.
EC: What are the statistics?
JM: In the UK, two women per week are killed by domestic violence, and in the US, it is five per week. I hope this story can make readers understand these shocking statistics.
EC: Why domestic violence?
JM: My previous job was to secure funding for women’s shelters. I read all the government policy documents and domestic violence reviews that discussed women getting killed or beaten up. One of my co-workers who I sat next to had the job to review every domestic homicide that happened in the UK. She would sigh and be saddened because men get away with it. I left to get a masters of creative writing.
EC: Is that why you wrote Katie having no justice?
JM: I had a lot of anger after I realized the system does not work. Shelters only exist because there are dangerous people out there who want to kill their partners. What stops them is putting the partner in a safe place to hide.
EC: Readers can also learn about domestic violence?
JM: Those that kill are doing it to reassert control. There are five major forms: Physical, emotional, psychological, financial, and sexual. I tried to cover them all without it becoming a box checking exercise. A lot of men grow up with the idea that violence is a solution.
EC: How would you describe Katie?
JM: On paper she has everything going for her. She is bright, educated, middle class, with no unusual problems. But then she ends up in a controlling possessive relationship. She is quiet, but not unusually so and does lack a bit of self-confidence.
EC: How would you describe the abuser, Jamie?
JM: He is very normal and totally lacks imagination. Sometimes Katie perceives that the lack of imagination is good for her. But then he becomes judgmental, jealous, and controlling. He does think he owns her. Although he is not Machiavellian, he does have a perceived idea of what people should be like. This is how Jamie perceives the world. I do not think he has a lot of respect for women.
EC: What is the role of the parents?
JM: I wrote this instinctively. Katie had a bad relationship with them. Her father was very undermining of the mother. Katie feels very much alone because at some point her mother is unable to parent. Regarding Jamie’s mom, as I was writing her, I felt like I was a fly on the wall. I did not sit down and think about her role, but just wrote it. I want readers to decide on their own if Jamie came from an abusive household. I intentionally did not make his mother a nagging shrew or Norman Bates type of mother. I did not want to blame away his behavior by putting the fault on the mother.
EC: Your next book?
JM: I could imagine writing a story with these characters, but there would be no happy ending where Jamie is concerned. My next book will be an historical novel about women’s hidden stories. It takes place in the 1920s and the present time period.
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First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros
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Luv Sassy x