Yes it’s the start of a new week and I’m kicking it off with an interesting guest post from Jennifer Young as part of the blog tour for her novel The Running Lie.
Many thanks to Emma Welton for inviting me on the blog tour and to the author for the guest post.
In Cold Crash, when Archaeologist Max Falkland, the Anglo-American daughter of a British peer, meets American John Knox in London in April 1952, her already troubled life takes on mystery. As the Cold War thriller progresses, Max finds herself in increasing danger, but three weeks after the events of Cold Crash, the point at which The Running Lie begins, Max has found an archaeological dig in London and John Knox has entered her life. But even now, can he be trusted?
Max encounters both skulls and sexism on the dig site at the bombed out shell of St. Bride’s Church in London. A family request sends her to the Berlin International Film Festival, away from the dig and her growing relationship with John Knox. But after she sees John in Berlin with another woman, Max forces him to confess he is an American spy. When his current case collides with her family life, Max has to find a way to navigate layers of lies.
As fireworks explode for the Fourth of July party, Max must make a dangerous choice if she wants to save both John and her family. The Running Lie is a page-turning Cold War spy thriller that reboots old school cloak and dagger Max Falkland is the James Bond of the 21st Century.
The Guest Post – Researching and Plotting
I am a ‘write and see what happens’ kind of writer. I don’t do much advance plotting, although I usually know the end of each novel, and in this case, I do know the end of the whole series. Otherwise, I see what happens. Often, my plot developments arise from my historical research.
I’m rather obsessed with historical research and for The Running Lie, I spent a lot of time in the British Library’s Map Room looking at road maps (for the distance of the drive to Norfolk), entertainment listings and period details. I delved into elements as detailed as how to set a table and what a hostess would be expected to do in the 1950s. For instance, I learned that a proper hostess would have a book that listed each guest’s preference for tea or coffee in the morning, so she would remember the next time they came to visit. Cards would be left in the room asking what time a guest wished to be awakened, and what beverage they wanted in the morning and the evening – and even a request form for the type of book they would like delivered from the library. Max’s mother shows Max wedding dresses in an issue of Vogue, and the dresses described are from the wedding feature in the June 1952 issue of British Vogue.
I knew that Max would go abroad in the novel, and originally, I had planned for her to go to Paris. However, I learned that the 1952 Berlin Film Festival coincided with my novel’s dates, so I sent her to Berlin. The behaviour at the Film Festival was very different to what we expect now, with audiences booing some films, so I added that into the novel.
Sometimes the conversation even comes from research. Characters talking about the 1952 Olympics bookends The Running Lie, which came from rewatching the 10th episode of the 6th season of M*A*S*H. For that matter, the whole reason my series is set in the early 1950s is because I spent much of my lifetime watching M*A*S*H reruns!
Of all my research, I always leave fashion until the end. I knew I would have to fight the temptation to just dive into fashion magazines and never emerge. Instead, I write a first draft and then go ‘shopping’ in the British Library. I knew what dresses I needed for each scene, so I outfitted Max and friends from Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and other magazines.
I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to write a contemporary novel – I love my historical research far too much!
Who Is Jennifer Young?
Jennifer Young was born in a small textile town in North Carolina, USA, and moved to the UK in 2001. She has since completed a PhD, become the daughter-in-law of a Catholic priest, and gained British citizenship. Her degrees are from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Cardiff University and the University of Southampton. She is the Head of Writing and Journalism at the University of Falmouth. Jennifer lives in Cornwall with her daughter.
Her novel Cold Crash won the Cinnamon Press Debut Novel Prize.
Follow Jennifer at http://www.maxfalkland.com or on Twitter @maxfalkland.