Saturday 20 February 2016

Q&A with Rita Brassington, author of The Good Kind of Bad

Hi, Rita! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your debut novel, The Good Kind of Bad?

Hi, Sophie! I’m a writer from Manchester and I’ve just published my first novel. It’s a psychological thriller about a girl who abandons her life and starts again in Chicago, only to marry a man she finds out has a wealth of secrets…

What do you think makes a great psychological thriller?

A great plot twist helps, but that’s my own personal preference. I think with any book, whether thriller or not, sub-plots and three-dimensional characters are key. If there are layers to both the story and characters, the writing will draw you in. Characters don’t need to be likable either, as long as you understand why they do what they do.

I think psychological thrillers are so popular because of their proximity to reality. With the horror or action genres there is a removed sense of danger, events that could happen to the reader but likely won’t (and I guess that’s the appeal), though with a psychological thriller the story hits home more readily – the reader may have already been in a similar situation, or at least a version of it. There’s more focus on the characters psyche, and everyone’s been through a distressing time at one point or another in their lives.

Was there a moment in your life when you just knew writing books was what you wanted to do?

I don’t think I ever thought it would happen, so no. It was only when I held my book for the first time and realized how surreal (and amazing) it was that I thought, I’d want to feel that again. So maybe I did have that moment, but it was only recently!

How long did the whole process take, from beginning to write The Good Kind of Bad to the moment you self-published it?

About ten years! I wrote The Good Kind of Bad in a summer after university, setting myself a challenge to see if I could write a book. After focusing on my career, I left the book for a number of years until coming back to it about two years ago. I knew I had a good story so finally decided to make the book a reality. It was a lot of hard work but I’m happy with the end result.

What have been your The Good Kind of Bad highlights: favourite bit of feedback received, favourite moment to write, favourite part of the whole having-a-book-out experience?

I think a great bit of feedback was from the Portobello Book Blog, saying it would make a great film! I only realized after reading back over my first draft I’d subconsciously added little nods to theatre and film throughout the manuscript.

Someone bought a copy for their sister for Christmas, who reported back she’d been that engrossed, she burned her dinner, twice. I knew then I’d achieved the effect I wanted! I know a lot of writers hate editing, but I quite enjoyed it. Finding the right balance in a scene or adding a clue for the reader to find was most rewarding, even though at the time you don’t feel like anyone is going to read it.

My favourite moment since having the book out is discussing the story with people – they’d tell me where they were up to and what they thought would happen next and I’d realize how bizarre it was. We’d talk as if discussing a film we’d both seen, not a book that’d started off in my head!

Do you see your future novels being written in a similar genre to The Good Kind of Bad?

Definitely, though probably more leaning towards a crime/forensic aspect. I have at least three other ideas for books, with my next one hopefully being a two-part story. With The Good Kind of Bad, I wrote what I wanted to read, and at the time I started ten years ago, chick-lit ruled. Although I have nothing against it, I was looking for something with more substance, primarily written by and for women. Maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough, but I couldn’t seem to find much that interested me. That was one of the reasons I started to write. It just so happens, when I got round to publishing the book, my genre is en vogue. I’m sure the literary landscape will look entirely different in another ten years but I think it’s important to write what you want to write instead of what’s popular. The writing won’t be as engrossing unless it’s something the author’s heart is completely set on.

What’s your opinion on book comparisons – ie. If you liked … you’ll love … - are they a help or a hindrance to readers and authors? Both?

I’ve recently written a blog article on this very subject. I can understand why the ‘if you liked…’ is used, though to have the book presented on its own merits also can’t be overlooked. That said, it’s a tough business out there. Books have to get noticed somehow.

Have you imagined The Good Kind of Bad as a film? Could you name your dream cast?

I think only in my wildest dreams, but yes, I have definitely envisioned it as a film. Dream cast? I think for Mrs Petrozzi, the main character, I’m not sure, but you can’t go wrong with Jennifer Lawrence. I think for Joe it would be a James Franco/Taylor Kinney kind of vibe and for Det. Evan Thomasz, someone like Aaron Paul, Jeremy Renner or even Tom Hardy. If Nick Youngquest acted (the Australian rugby player from the Paco Rabanne ads) he would be a perfect Evan.

Are you working on anything at the moment, and if so, can you tell us anything about it?

I started working on my second book last year, but am in the process of rewriting most of what I had as I’ve made the character older. It’s about a girl, this time in Manchester, UK, who’s desperate for the job of her dreams. It’s only when a guy shows up promising a way into that world that things begin to turn nasty… Definitely a be careful what you wish for story.

If you could interview any author in the world, who would you pick and why?

Sarra Manning. I first read her books as a teenager and just felt like she ‘got’ the whole 90’s teenage experience. It’d be great to reminisce about that time. She wrote Diary of a Crush which was serialised in Just Seventeen every month. It was my style bible!

If you were to co-write a book with another author, who would you love to write it with?

That’s a hard one, but if I had to pick, Daphne du Maurier. It would be great to put one of her stories in a modern setting.

The Good Kind of Bad is out now

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