The Last Mrs Parrish by Liv Constantine - BLOG TOUR: Q&A
THE LAST MRS PARRISH
by Liv Constantine
published by HarperCollins and available now
How far would you go to make all your dreams come true?
Watch out for Amber Patterson; she is fed up with being ignored and being in the background. She's had enough of never being given a second glance by the wealthier, more glamorous women who exercise alongside her in the gym. Why shouldn't she have a life of wealth, luxury and leisure too?
And so Amber sets her sights on Daphne Parrish - well on Daphne's husband really, and puts into action a long term, cunning, manipulative and meticulously calculated plan to make sure she gets the life she thinks she deserves. She sets her sights on Jackson Parrish.
This is a good story which explores themes of envy, greed, desire, infidelity, jealousy and cruelty. It's domestic noir with an extra dose of spite.
I liked the twists, I liked the themes and premise; I found the ending very satisfying and well executed. The author shows a sound understanding about how to create tension, pace, manage converging plot lines and can craft bold characters that provoke reactions from the reader. Stories about jealousy, envy, female friendships and based around the phrase "be careful what you wish for" are always going to be popular.
This is definitely a book for fans of Liane Moriarty. I think it would also appeal to fans of the TV shows Doctor Foster and Liar.
You can read my full review here.
THE LAST MRS PARRISH BLOG TOUR Q&A
MEET THE AUTHORS!
Liv Constantine is the pen name of the bestselling authors and sisters Lynne Constantine and Valerie Constantine. I am absolutely delighted to welcome them on to my blog today and very grateful for the time they have taken to answer my questions!
Let's find out more!
Could you start by summing up the novel in one or two sentences please?
A woman insinuates herself into the life of another with the intention of taking it over.
There are two main characters in the story, Amber and Daphne. Could you describe each of them in three words?
Amber – ruthless, cunning, amoral
Daphne – compassionate, kind, beautiful
Amber is a deeply unlikeable – but intriguing – character. What were the challenges of writing a character that is just so unpleasant and selfish?
The biggest challenge in creating Amber was that she not become an exaggeration or caricature of a villain. We wanted to make sure that her actions made sense and that they were justifiable in her mind. There were even a few occasions when Amber felt discomfort at her actions, but those feelings passed very quickly. We intended for her to be a despicable character, but she had to have some admirable traits, even if she used them in an amoral way. It was important to us that she be layered––smart and ambitious, audacious, and daring––so that it would be interesting for the reader to be in her mind.
Let’s talk about planning! Liv Constantine is actually two people – two sisters in fact! What made you decide to write together?
We grew up in a house of readers and books were always discussed. Years back, we read many family stories and ethnic ones and we realized there was very little written on Greeks. We collaborated years ago and wrote Circle Dance a family saga about two sisters. Valerie retired and became heavily involved in charitable and philanthropic work. Lynne moved away, had twins that she homeschooled for six years, and life went on. Six years ago, Lynne finished a conspiracy thriller, THE VERITAS DECEPTION, and we both realized we missed writing together so we began working together again.
How do you plan and write the novel together?
The first thing that we come up with is the premise.
After we know the premise, we develop the characters and create their psychology, their backstory, family history, traumas, ambitions, and dreams. Then comes setting, and a broad summary of a beginning and ending. This process takes at least a month and we also map out any research that needs doing. When that is complete, we begin to write.
We assign scenes to each other, email them in the afternoon, and then FaceTime and discuss each other’s writing. This goes on six days a week until we have a first draft. There are tons of emails and FaceTime sessions back and forth as the story takes shape.
What are the challenges and what are the benefits of writing as a team?
The challenge of writing together is coming to an agreement when we have different ideas about the direction the story or character should take. We have to take the other’s perspective into account and remind ourselves that the story belongs to both of us. It’s important to damp down any ego and listen with respect and an open mind when one of us disagrees with something the other has written. Another challenge is reconciling conflicting schedules, i.e. traveling, appointments, day-to-day issues, so that we are meeting our agreed upon deadlines and talking every day. There are definitely times it’s frustrating and can take some fancy footwork.
The benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. We enjoy each other’s company and have a similar sense of humour so our writing sessions are great fun. It’s wonderful to be able to bounce ideas off each other, to send each other chapters with blanks and have them come back filled in, and to have someone to share the work with. And the old adage that two heads are better than one is true, particularly when it comes to the many rounds of revision and editing.
What inspired this novel and why did you choose the genre of domestic noir?
THE LAST MRS. PARRISH actually came about serendipitously. We were discussing various stories we’d heard about women deliberately targeting rich, married men with no regard to the ruin left behind in their wake. We thought – what if things didn’t turn out like the women planned? And the twist was born, and we knew we had something that would make a great story.
Domestic noir is a genre that we both read widely, and the possibilities are endless in terms of storyline and twist. It’s a genre we both enjoying writing.
This is a dark novel with strong female leads that challenge stereotypes. With recent TV series like Dr Foster, Liar and Big Little Lies, there seems to be a real interest in these more challenging, complicated, flawed female characters. Why do you think this is?
We’re living in a time where women are finding their voice more than ever. Strong female characters are more representative of the true nature of people, whether male or female. Everyone is flawed in one way or another and fortunately as a society we’re moving away from the ideal of presenting a perfect façade. These females challenge the customary roles women have been relegated to. They are complex, sometimes unlikeable, and not measured by the values we normally expect women to be gauged by.
The Last Mrs Parrish is screaming out to be made into a TV series. Who would you cast as the perfect actors to play Amber, Daphne and Jackson?
Jennifer Lawrence as Amber, Emily Blunt as Daphne, and Gerard Butler as Jackson.
Can you name one author or one novel that has influenced your writing or a book that you would recommend to everyone?
Susan Howatch was an early idol for both of us. Her books Penmarric and Cashelmara had layered and complicated characters. In Penmarric, a family saga of the Penmar family, the lives of the characters span a long period of time over two centuries. The narrative is presented by different family members who draw the reader into their point of view. Howatch brilliantly shows how differing perceptions completely change the reader’s perception as well. She did it again in her superb six book Starbridge Series on the Church of England. Each book is narrated by a different character, but the protagonist of each book appears in the others as well, again allowing the reader to see the same events from different viewpoints. It inspired us to use that device in our writing – to show the importance of perspective in truth and reality and what a different story you get depending upon whose eyes we see it through.
Wow! Thank you so much Lynne & Valerie, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your answers and found them quite inspiring! Thank you so much and I do hope we are to see much more from you both in the future. I will definitely be looking out for your next book together!
Don't forget to follow the rest of the Blog Tour which runs until the 18th January!
Huge thanks again to Harper Collins and "Liv" Constantine for allowing me to join the Blog Tour and interview the authors!