Jane Houghton‘s LS debut is one of the most complex tales in the archives. The Girl With the Feet features one of the best prolonged suspense scenes I have ever read. You can feel yourself wanting to jump in and advise the Joshua, who is not a very lucky person
Q: The tension and weird meetings were fabulous. Was it difficult keeping all the action scenes straight in your mind?
Q: Was this piece plotted in advance or was the arc something that revealed itself during composition?
Q: One more, a bonus–What do you think might have happened if it continued beyond the end?
Q1: The tension and weird meetings were fabulous. Was it difficult keeping all the action scenes straight in your mind?
A1: Thank you, I really appreciate this. I don’t remember this being something that I struggled with. The story sort of possessed me during the writing process, so the scenes were firmly lodged in my mind. I don’t know whether this is something to be celebrated or bewailed…possessed by a story of psychotic murder and nightmarish blackmail…perhaps I need a visit to Freud…
Q2: Was this piece plotted in advance or was the arc something that revealed itself during composition?
A2: I rarely plot in advance – in fact, I don’t think that I ever have. I’m either a maverick at heart or astoundingly lazy and lacking in the foresight department. I’ll leave it to you to decide. Before setting pen to paper, I had the image of a drunk guy trying to get in to the wrong apartment. As people routinely do. Unless this only happens where I live. I knew that he was down on his luck. I knew that his luck would get worse. (Oh, what an evil cow I am…but we’ve got to get our kicks somehow.) Beyond this, I knew nothing. My fingers would decide the rest as they rode the writing wave. I literally decided on the murder scene – and her poignantly placed feet – as I wrote it; in a way, it decided for itself and proceeded to reveal its ghastly face to me.
Q3: One more, a bonus. What do you think might have happened if it continued beyond the end?
A3: What a brilliant question – you’re firing on all cylinders today. It gives me the chance to think about something that I’ve never once considered. Bizarre, I know. But when I leave a story, I leave it; its end point is a boundary that I don’t cross. I think that I must subconsciously worry that I will tarnish the story. Or, more likely where I’m concerned, start to doubt all my decisions and then spend the next year pulling it apart and torturing myself. Yes, another trip to Sir Freud is in order…
But let’s imagine that for one night only I do cross that boundary. For one night only I channel my inner lioness and plumb the depths of her bravery. Joshua is talking to his brother, Adam; Joshua has just found out that Albie requires his ‘assistance’ again. There is more ‘furniture’ to be moved. He is trapped. What does he do?
He wants to cry. To scream and shout. To run away and never look back. But he doesn’t. He can’t. Yes, he is a weak man. A troubled man. Demons hover all around him, perpetual companions. His marriage has failed. His fondness for the booze is spiralling. But he loves his baby brother. He loves his estranged wife. He can’t run away – doing so will put them in danger. Going to the police is not an option. He can’t trust them – they might all be in cahoots with their revered DI. Ultimately, he can’t refuse to help said revered DI, for fear that he will turn his sights on his brother and wife.
Though weak, Joshua is not bad. He has morals. Compassion. Empathy. Helping Albie again will crush him emotionally. He will hate himself – even more than he does already. His drinking will worsen. A reconciliation with Hannah will become impossible. Adam will eventually tire of his drinking and apparent recklessness and start to distance himself from him.
Joshua is stuck. He is in quicksand. Going along with Albie’s deadly dance is the only way that he can keep himself – and his loves – from total immersion.