Monday, 7 August 2017

#HollySeddon #DontCloseYourEyes #BibliomaniacsBookClub

Bibliomaniac's Book Club: Bonus Edition!

Don't Close Your Eyes
by Holly Seddon 


What is Don't Close Your Eyes about? 

Twin sisters Robin and Sarah haven’t spoken in years.

Robin can’t leave her house. A complete shut-in, she spends her days spying on her neighbors, subtly meddling in their lives. But she can’t keep her demons out forever. Someone from her past has returned, and is desperate to get inside.

Sarah can’t go home. Her husband has kicked her out, forcibly denying her access to their toddler. Sarah will do anything to get her daughter back, but she’s unraveling under the mounting pressure of concealing the dark secrets of her past. And her lies are catching up to her.

Read my 5* review here

I am delighted to welcome Holly Seddon to my blog today as I absolutely love Don't Close Your Eyes, published by Corvus on 6th July 2017, and I think it makes a great book for a book club discussion.  I am even more thrilled that Holly agreed to answer a few questions about her novel and about her own reading first before we get on to the Book Club questions!

Q&A WITH HOLLY SEDDON



Don’t Close Your Eyes has two main characters, Sarah and Robin, who each take turns in telling their story, one in first person and one in third. There is also a dual timeline between 1989 and the present day. What techniques did you use to help you plan the structure and writing of this story?

I used writing program Scrivener and got a lot of headaches. In all seriousness, this was the most complicated structure I’ve ever written (including my third book, which I’ve just finished editing) and I had to plan it very carefully, chapter by chapter, to make sure that it was seamless for the reader. It was actually even more complex at one point because there were extra points of view but thankfully they didn’t make it past the first draft!

The story is also about twins. Why did you decide to make the sisters twins? Which sister came first when you were creating the story or did they both “arrive” at the same time?

I knew the story would be about siblings and blended families, of sorts, but the character who came to me first was Robin. She basically arrived fully formed, with an attitude, style, history, interests and looks already in place. It was almost eerie!

Growing up I had friends who were non-identical twins and always found that very interesting. There are so many expectations with twins, not least that they’ll be identical in looks and character, so I wanted to show some more shades of grey.

There is a lot about mental health in this novel. What effect did that have on you when writing and how did you ensure that your portrayal was not only so convincing and authentic but also so thoughtful and respectful?

Frankly, it’s hard and nerve-wracking writing about experiences that you know some – maybe many - readers will recognise in themselves or those they love. Experiences that people I care about may have experienced in some form. So I take it very, very seriously. I read a lot and also listen to the experiences of others.

I try to be respectful, to err on the side of showing less, not more. I don’t want to be flippant and I do want it to feel authentic or I shouldn’t cover those topics. Do it right, or don’t do it. And I hope upon hope that I’ve done it right.

(I absolutely think you have done it very well - such a tricky one to get right, but I thought it was very well handled indeed. Hopefully other readers agree!) 

What are your top tips for creating tension and effective plot twists in fiction?

Less is more. So often it’s in the not showing, rather than the showing. The hints and the shadows are where the creepiness lies, I think.

Oh and watch as much Alfred Hitchcock as you can get your hands on! Rear Window was an influence on Don’t Close Your Eyes (which is probably obvious to those who have read it) but as well as the films, my middle son and I got really obsessed with the old 1950s/60s series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, which consists of 25 minute episodes of crime, mystery, thriller stories.

Oohh, I did think of Rear Window when I read this, but love the idea of watching the Alfred Hitchcock Presents series! Great tip!

Thank you so much Holly for your fab answers! Now on to a few quick fire questions about your reading! 

If you are or if you were in a book club which book are you reading / would like to read?

I am in a book club and I love it. It forces me to read outside of my genre and, many times, outside of my own interests so I’m exposed to fresh ideas and styles. Last month we read The Power by Naomi Alderman and I had such a book hangover when it finished. God it’s good. I bought a copy for my teenage daughter when I was only a third of the way through because I wanted to discuss it with her too! This month we’re reading The Sellout by Paul Beattie, I’ve not read much yet but it’s made me hoot and howl in despair already.

Great recommendations - I have bought The Power as the lovely Steph at Harpenden Books raved about it so much I couldn't leave without buying a copy! 

If you could ask a book club one question about your book what would it be?

Did you guess the twist? (So far, no one has.)

If you could invite any author / fictional character to a book club, who would it be and why?

Ohhhhh, that’s such a hard one! I went to Harrogate Crime Writing Festival recently and had such a great time. I’ve never met so many authors en masse and I even managed to meet Lee Child, very briefly and awkwardly, so that scratched a lot of ‘must meets’ off the list.  I’m not sure if this is allowed, but can I go for a deceased author? I’d love to meet Agatha Christie. I’d love to know how she was so prolific, I’d love to know if she knew what she was doing when she ran away and I’d love to pick her brains on what makes the perfect mystery set-up.

(That is a great answer!!!! Totally agree with your choice!!) 

What books have influenced your writing? Or which book do you wish you’d written?

Hmm. I’m not very good at saying who has influenced my writing because so much of it is unconscious. I’m quite a visual writer and I think television drama and crime series have had quite an impact on me, not just the new Scandi crop but older shows like Cracker.

Growing up I loved ghost stories (like The Ghost of Thomas Kempe) and adventure yarns (especially Famous Five), the creepier and eerier the better.

I don’t think anyone would liken me to this lot, but as a teenager and young adult I loved Charles Bukowski, Peter Carey, Douglas Coupland and Martin Amis. Yeah, no one is ever going to compare me to them!

I love writers who are crisp and sparing, and I think I’m always trying to get my sentences as simple and clean as possible. Unlike my answers to these questions, sorry!

Do you have one book you are desperate to read this year?

I’m very excited to read I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes of Death by Maggie O’Farrell.  

Thanks so much Holly, these are fabulous answers, some great suggestions and recommendations! I really enjoyed hearing your answers and thanks for taking the time out of your busy day to answer them! 

So now, here are some questions to accompany Don't Close Your Eyes if you choose it as your Book Club read! 

QUESTIONS FOR BOOK CLUB:

The novel is told with a dual timeline and from two different points of view. How challenging, if at all, did you find this as a reader? Did you find this an effective way of revealing the story and the characters?

How authentic did you find the relationship between the sisters? Which sister were you more drawn to and why?

Robin watches another family from her window and makes her own assumptions about what she is seeing. Why do you think the author decided to include this storyline? What point might the author being trying to raise? Does it remind you of any other books or films?

There is a lot about parenting in this novel. What key issues do you think the author is trying to make in this novel regarding parenting and motherhood?

How well do you think this book would transfer to the big screen?  What might be the pros and cons of an adaption? Who might you cast as the key characters?

And, as Holly asked, did you guess the twist?!!


IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY HOLLY SEDDON'S FIRST NOVEL "TRY NOT TO BREATH" 


Amy Stevenson was the biggest news story of 1995. Only fifteen years old, Amy disappeared walking home from school one day and was found in a coma three days later. Her attacker was never identified and her angelic face was plastered across every paper and nightly news segment.

Fifteen years later, Amy lies in the hospital, surrounded by 90’s Britpop posters, forgotten by the world until reporter Alex Dale stumbles across her while researching a routine story on vegetative patients.

Remembering Amy’s story like it was yesterday, she feels compelled to solve the long-cold case.

The only problem is, Alex is just as lost as Amy—her alcoholism has cost her everything including her marriage and her professional reputation.

In the hopes that finding Amy’s attacker will be her own salvation as well, Alex embarks on a dangerous investigation, suspecting someone close to Amy.

Told in the present by an increasingly fragile Alex and in dream-like flashbacks by Amy as she floats in a fog of memories, dreams, and music from 1995, Try Not to Breatheunfolds layer by layer to a breathtaking conclusion.





HAVE A LISTEN TO HOLLY SEDDON ON HONEST AUTHORS PODCAST WHICH SHE CO HOSTS WITH THE FABULOUS GILLIAN MCALLISTER AUTHOR OF EVERYTHING BUT THE TRUTH 

@HonestAuthors







FIND OUT MORE ABOUT HOLLY SEDDON 

Holly Seddon is a full time writer, living slap bang in the middle of Amsterdam with her husband James and a house full of children and pets. 

Holly has written for newspapers, websites and magazines since her early 20s after growing up in the English countryside, obsessed with music and books. 

Her first novel, TRY NOT TO BREATHE, was published worldwide in 2016 and became a bestseller in several countries. DON’T CLOSE YOUR EYES is her second novel.

www.hollyseddon.com

Holly Seddon on Goodreads

Holly Seddon on Facebook

For more recommendations and reviews follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or via my website bibliomaniacuk.co.uk

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