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Thursday, 12 April 2018

Out and About: An Evening with Erin Kelly and Sarah Vaughan: Sex, Power, & Consent in Crime Writing


A conversation about rape, consent and power in fiction is never going to be a comfortable topic, but
it certainly made for an eye-opening evening. On Friday, I joined a buzzing crowd in Waterstones Exeter to listen to crime writers Erin Kelly and Sarah Vaughan tackle this difficult and timely topic- central to the themes of both of their novels.

With the #MeToo movement high on the public agenda, and the founding of the Staunch Prize, now seems to be a key moment to have the discussion about how these issues are treated and presented in fiction.

Sarah began by speaking about the seeds that initially inspired her new book, Anatomy of a Scandal: the high profile Ched Evans case, and media commentary on this, including a column which quoted casual judgments from other young women about the alleged victim; the exposure of political sex scandals and how these were addressed. In fact, the beginnings of the novel came about years earlier - but the book was placed on pause while she wrote her second novel. Publication came as the conversation around consent became a more commonly discussed topic.

Erin said that she plans her novels around 2 to 3 key ideas. For He Said She Said she stated that she wanted to write a novel with a “large scope” after writing a couple of intensely claustrophobic books. The second element was to base the work around Eclipse Chasers- people who have their holidays planned for the rest of their lifetimes around these events- and including the theme of darkness and “writing about something bad that happens in the dark.” The third element was her desire to “redress the balance of how rape is often portrayed – where often the victim is nothing more than a trigger for the detective or lead on the case to learn something about themselves.”

Erin stated that books such as theirs were “part of a wave of treating the issues intelligently” while Sarah said that they would be “humbled and proud if our books become a part of the debate.”

Speaking of their writing process, Sarah credits her time as a political journalist as vital to her writing – especially in portraying the reality of a court case in action, having witnessed and reported on so many during her career. She has had feedback from both victims and barristers about the accuracy of her portrayal of the case in the book – something she’s incredibly proud of.


Erin likened writing a novel to running a marathon – but if she ever found herself flagging during her writing, she turned to her original research of high profile cases such as Brock Turner and Ched Evans to stoke her anger and get her writing again.

Huge thanks to excellent host Liv J Hooper and Waterstones Exeter (Roman's Gate), and of course to Sarah Vaughan and Erin Kelly for a fascinating evening. Please see below for more about He Said She Said by Erin Kelly and Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan.




Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan


The Blurb:
A high-profile marriage thrust into the spotlight. A wife, determined to keep her family safe, must face a prosecutor who believes justice has been a long time coming. A scandal that will rock Westminster. And the women caught at the heart of it. 

Anatomy of a Scandal centres on a high-profile marriage that begins to unravel when the husband is accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is sure her husband, James, is innocent and desperately hopes to protect her precious family from the lies which might ruin them. Kate is the barrister who will prosecute the case – she is equally certain that James is guilty and determined he will pay for his crimes.

Grab your copy here:

Kindle:                          Hardback:
    


He Said She Said by Erin Kelly


The Blurb:
Don't be left in the dark.

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack. She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, four lives change forever.

Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.

And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, she also knows that you can never see the whole picture: something is always hidden . . . something she never could have guessed.

Grab your copy here:

Kindle:                           Paperback:
   

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