I’m pleased to welcome Patricia Dixon to the blog with her new release, Over My Shoulder. As this is a change in direction for Patricia, I had plenty to ask her, but first, take a look at the striking cover and blurb …
This is a dark and gripping romance which tells of a nice young girl who met a very bad man. Sounds simple? Not really. By the time the girl realised the depths of his wicked soul and a wiser, braver young woman was about to emerge, it was too late. His twisted roots had wrapped around her life, spreading rapidly, taking a firm hold of her confused head and fragile heart. There was to be no escape from the tangled mess unless it was on his terms and even then, once she was free and her life rolled precariously on, the seeds he had sown remained embedded deep within. When she least expected it he would return and make good his promise, exact revenge and ensure she paid any price he felt owed.
Set in Manchester in the early nineties, Over My Shoulder is an intricate tale of blinkered love and obsession. This gripping psycho-sexual thriller with criminal undertones tracks the life of a young woman, from her carefree mid-twenties right up to present day.
Freya falls under the spell of controlling and manipulative Kane and soon, her life changes beyond her wildest imagination. When the luxurious life she craves gradually becomes intolerable, escape is out of reach.
This is a disturbing story of an affluent life, cleverly camouflaging the sinister underworld which funds it. And just when you think it is all over, there is a twist.
When will it end, can it end?
Sounds great! And now, to the questions …
Patricia, your previous novels are women’s fiction set in France, a place you know and love. What made you change direction and write a psychological thriller?
The change of direction wasn’t planned but I did agonise about the genre, simply because it is one of the most popular at the moment and didn’t want to be seen as jumping on the bandwagon. This was a story I’d wanted to tell for a while so when I received an unwanted message from the past, just like in the book, I decided to follow my instincts and put it all down on paper.
Sounds intriguing! Why the 1990s? Why Manchester?
I love Manchester, it is where I was born and apart from university and working in London it has always been my home. To bring realism to the story I immersed myself in a place and time that I could picture clearly. I used the building where I worked in the 90’s for Freya’s office, my first flat for her home and various locations around the city and Cheshire which suited the purposes of the book.
How much research did you have to do for Over My Shoulder?
As I mentioned above, a message and memories of a troubled relationship in my early twenties formed the foundations for the first part of the story. I drew on my own experiences and those of women I know and know of. I researched facts and figures regarding domestic violence mainly to back up the story as I was aware that readers who hadn’t experienced it may question or even disbelieve that this kind of behaviour occurs, in both the abuser and the abused. I felt I owed it to all those who have suffered to do them justice and explain from their point of view and for those who haven’t, maybe offer some insight so they don’t judge harshly or unfairly. Thankfully the final part is purely fiction.
What aspects of this change in writing style did you enjoy most? Were there any aspects you found particularly difficult?
Writing a grittier tale actually felt very liberating. With the romance novels I am acutely aware of my target audience and wouldn’t want to offend or alienate them in any way, however, in Over My Shoulder, due to the nature of the subject and while staying true to the main character’s personality, background and age, I made a conscious effort not to worry and in doing so I hope I kept it real. I especially enjoyed writing in the first person, something I’ve only ever touched on in my other books. I decided from the outset that I wanted the story to be a very personal conversation between the reader and Freya. I could only achieve this by asking them questions, for their opinion, dropping hints and admitting fears, weakness and failures as if they were there, going through it all with me. From the reviews I’ve had this approach has been well received. I seem to have made a connection which added to the tension of the story.
The only aspect I found difficult were some of the sadder scenes at the end of the book, even now they make me cry when I read them. The abuse scenes and delving into the past didn’t affect me as much I thought it would, but I always wrote or edited them during the day, just to avoid nightmares.
I must admit, I can’t imagine writing something in a genre like this!
Are you working on your next project, and if so, can you tell us a little about it?
Yes, project number seven is well under way. My next book is the story of two young people, a boy and a girl who meet at university in Manchester. They form an unusual yet life long friendship and while their love for each other is misunderstood it survives against the odds. The story also takes the reader to France, a place I love and along with Manchester, is very close to my heart.
Where do you write … and where would be your ideal writing space?
I have been rather nomadic in my choice of writing venue. I began in the attic. It’s very peaceful there and there is a lovely antique bed which was handy for moments of contemplation and a sneaky snooze, but I found I was becoming rather isolated and it was a long way from food and the kettle. I then took over the kitchen table but I was in the way when we had visitors and at mealtimes, although I never starved and drank far too much coffee. I am now installed in the dining room which ticks all the boxes. I can see out of the window from where I keep an eye on my husband who also works from home, it has a nice comfy sofa for when I get a numb bum (it’s a hazard of the job) and yes, I am only a few steps away from the biscuit tin. My perfect place to write is our home in France. It is so peaceful and I only have to look out of the window to be inspired. And as we have no internet, there are no distractions from social media and emails so I get lots done.
Sounds wonderful! And I know that ‘numb bum’ felling well 🙂
Thank you for visiting, Patricia.
You can buy Over My Shoulder at: AMAZON
And you can watch the trailer HERE