Wednesday 24 October 2018

She Chose Me by Tracey Emerson @TraceyJEmerson BLOG TOUR @Legend_books #MyLifeInBooks

Grace has returned to London after twenty years abroad to manage her dying mother’s affairs. When she receives a blank Mother’s Day card in the post, she is confused and unsettled. Who could have sent it to her and why? She isn’t a mother.
Another Mother’s Day card arrives. Then come the silent phone calls. Haunted by disturbing flashbacks, Grace starts to unravel. Someone is out to get her. Someone who knows what she has done. Someone who will make her face the past she has run from for so long.
Emerson creates an intricate web in this intense psychological thriller whose high energy and fast-pace will have you racing towards the climactic conclusion. Perfect for fans ofThe Girl Before

She Chose Me by Tracey Emerson was published by Legend Press on 15 October 2018.

As part of the BLOG TOUR, I'm delighted to welcome the author here to Random Things today. She's talking about the books that are special to her in My Life In Books.

Tracey Emerson - My Life In Books

Like most kids born in the 70s, I spent my early childhood reading Enid Blyton books.

Adventures of The Wishing Chair was a particular favourite. A chair that sprouts wings and flies you away on exotic adventures. What’s not to love! My sister and I spent many hours squeezed into armchairs together, willing them to take off. An early lesson in disappointment.

Later, I became obsessed with Little Women, reading it countless times. Jo March was my first girl crush. I wanted to be her, and I’m sure not the only female writer to count her as an early role model. And the novel itself is tender and true and timeless.

YA fiction didn’t exist during my teens, so I read whatever books my parents had in the house, as well as the texts I studied at school. My mum was a huge Stephen King fan, so I have her to thank for introducing me to his brilliant storytelling. Misery stands out for me, and I reread it every few years. The novel itself is a masterclass in thriller writing and in the attempts of the captive author, Paul Sheldon, to create a new Misery novel for the psychotic Annie Wilkes, we get a glimpse into King’s writing process.

I also recall a fascination with The Breaking Point, a collection of short stories by Daphne du Maurier. ‘The Blue Lenses’, an eerie, surreal tale about a woman who suffers unusual side effects after an eye operation, gave me my first glimpse of how the short story form could contain anything a writer’s imagination might throw at it.

I didn’t do English Literature at A level, and I studied drama at university. Thus, in my late teens and early twenties, reading plays took over from reading novels. When I did read novels, it was usually as research for a character or with a view to adapting the work for the stage. One such novel was The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe. Francie Brady, the unreliable first-person narrator, captivated me. The novel takes us deep into Francie’s delusional mind, whilst simultaneously showing us what is happening outside his delusions. I have loved this style of narration and this type of sympathetic anti-hero ever since.

This affection for the anti-hero led me to Patricia Highsmith’s novels. The Talented Mr Ripley is a fascinating, chilling study of how disaffection can mutate into crime, and it taps uncomfortably into the universal experience of coveting the wealth and lifestyle of another.

François Mauriac’s Thérèse Desqueyroux is a beloved anti-heroine of mine. Acquitted of attempting to poison her husband, Thérèse has to return to the marital home. Everyone, her husband included, knows she did it, but keeping up appearances and family honour are more important than the truth. Trapped in the stifling marriage she tried to free herself from, Thérèse has time to reflect on the complex, ambiguous motives behind the crime she committed. A lyrical, philosophical novel with a gripping premise.

I can pinpoint three other novels with female protagonists that showed me different ways of exploring the female psyche. One is Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys. This classic portrayal of sadness, loss and regret slayed me with its brutal honesty and made me feel no emotion or experience was out of bounds as writing material.
Another discovery was Julie Myerson’s The Story of You, the first novel of hers I read. This is a story that depicts raw grief, and it exposes the interior life of the female narrator with no apologies. It also explores the power of female intuition, and it dares to bring supernatural experiences into the narrative, treating them as a valid part of our existence.
Another novel that dared and succeeded was Apple Tree Yard. Louise Doughty’s bestselling psychological thriller contains a perfect balance of literary and genre elements. Reading it convinced me that the psychological thriller permitted the kind of complex portrayals of women I was interested in writing.

To finish, I have to mention Memoirs of a Survivor by Doris Lessing—an astonishing novel by one of my all-time favourite writers. On one level, it is a dystopian story about a futuristic Britain on the verge of collapse. An elderly woman, watching society disintegrate around her, finds she has the ability to pass through her living room wall to another world. A world that could provide refuge and salvation if she can only overcome her logical mind and fully engage with it. Memoirs is a novel of huge ideas, suggesting that when logic and the intellect cause society to break down, we will only survive by using our intuition and instinct. By embracing what we don’t understand. It is both a vision of how we might escape the end of the world and also a guide to mental survival, urging us not to give into polarised thinking. Urging us to learn how to hold contradictory ideas in our mind at the same time.

Tracey Emerson - October 2018 

Before writing fiction, Tracey worked in theatre and community arts. As well as acting, she ran drama workshops in hospitals, focusing on adults with mental health issues. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from The University of Edinburgh and works as a literary consultant and writing tutor. She is also the Creative Director of The Bridge Awards, a philanthropic organisation that provides micro-funding for the arts. 
She Chose Me is Tracey’s first novel. Follow Tracey at her website

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