Joanna Briscoe and Harriet Lane : Book event

On Wednesday, I went to Waterstone's Hampstead (which is a gorgeous shop by the way!) to listen to a talk about domestic thrillers by Joanna Briscoe, author of Sleep with Me and Touched and Harriet Lane, author of Her. It was an amazing talk, because a lot of it was about the writing process which was so inspiring to listen to. Below are some pictures and a little report. 

Joanna Briscoe


Joanna, who is my Faber & Faber writing teacher, talked about her book Touched. Instead of summarizing it, which Goodreads does pretty well, I'll just give some fun facts about what inspired her to write the book.

She said it was inspired by the house she grew up in until she was four. It's a pretty house in a pretty neighbourhood and that's where she got the creepiness from - she wanted to combine bright colours with something scary (which is very original in my opinion!). 

A little funny note is the fact that Joanna's book reminded someone of The Yellow Wallpaper. Turns out that Joanna has read the book but only after she finished her story and she said she was happy about that or else she would have changed the colour of her wallpaper. This just shows how stories interconnect, even without the authors being aware of it!

Harriet Lane


Harriet Lane also talked about her book Her, her writing inspiration and her writing progress.

She said that she just started writing one day - she begins at the beginning and ends at the ending. She basically looks around her and "shoves it in" the story she writes. (Don't you love how simple she makes it sound? So jealous!) 

For all her fans: she is working on book three but apparently it's still very early days!


Then there was a talk with both authors about the domestic thriller, genre and writing. I'll just write down some interesting snippets!

Both of the authors said they didn't really think in genres when writing. Harriet says she uses thriller conventions but likes to play tricks on the reader by using them in an usual way. She says a perfect reader will appreciate these things. Joanna said she always has the perfect book in her head, but what she writes is not perfect. Both agreed that all you could hope for was a perfect reader who understands your book.

What I also found very interesting, as a writer myself, was the talk about editing and point of view. Harriet always writes in first person because it's straight forward and "the way characters see things says everything about them". Joanna feels like every story lends itself to a first or third person and she experiments with it. (Harriet did try to move her third novel to the third person that morning, but I got the impression that trying third person did not make her happy at all!)

And then some fun facts:

Writing advice - both Harriet and Joanna suggested walking or napping

Favourite authors 

Joanna : Toni Morrison and Thomas Hardy

Harriet: Shirley Jackson and Daphne Du Maurier