INFLUENCES: Scooby-Doo Rules by Fran Dorricott

AFTER THE ECLIPSE

Fran Dorricott (www.frandorricott.com)

Titan Books (titanbooks.com)

£7.99

To celebrate the release of her new novel, After the Eclipse, I’m very excited to welcome Fran Dorricott to Reader Dad to talk about her influences.

Thanks for having me! When I first sat down to write After the Eclipse I didn’t think I would later be asked to write a blog post about my influences as a writer. I definitely didn’t think I’d have to fess up to the fact that I still abide by the Scooby-Doo rules – that when it comes to the bad guys we want answers. We want to know who they are, and also why they are that way – who are they under the mask?

Fiction is capable of a moral comeuppance that real life can’t always deliver, a satisfying ending where in reality there is none. It enables us to see inside the minds of other people from the safety of our own lives, making us more empathetic, often braver, and smarter, too.

The media I consumed in my early teens was without a doubt some of the most influential. One of the first things that comes to mind is my childhood obsession with the TV show Charmed. I’m still kind of obsessed. I mean, there’s something undeniably awesome about a series featuring three kick-ass sister witches defeating the forces of evil while trying to lead ‘normal lives’ – and it sparked a life-long affair with anything strange and unusual. I love a bit of spooky! I devoured stories about unexplainable phenomena, spent hours trawling through badly designed websites to figure out what other gruesome stories I could find to fuel my imagination, and was rarely disappointed.

I soon turned to reading about serial killers – and more importantly, about their victims, who are often forgotten. But I craved resolution. Raymond Chandler and Arthur Conan Doyle were better at unmasking villains, but something in me was disappointed by these stories. Where were the women? The kick-ass women like the Charmed ladies I remembered from my childhood? My Miss Marple phase eased some of this desire for a while, but still I wanted something more. I wanted characters with the same grit, determination and charm as Philip Marlowe without the aspects I liked about him less.

It wasn’t until I was in my late teens that I discovered Patricia Cornwell. I’d say her early Scarpetta novels informed a lot of my own writerly choices. I liked how brave Scarpetta was – and how foolish. She was a woman at the top of her field but she had to battle sexism and the lack of belief in her abilities, and she still retained a level of femininity while learning to shoot and fly a helicopter. I appreciated the inclusion of Scarpetta’s niece and the discovery of her sexual identity, even if I didn’t agree with the way it was dealt with entirely. But I still wanted something darker, something more personal to the protagonist.

And then I found Gillian Flynn. Here was an author who made my heart sing, her books a perfect blend of darkness and retribution, badass women who weren’t afraid to be vulnerable as often as strong, and settings so rich and evocative that sometimes reading felt like a guilty pleasure. I devoured all of her novels, leaving long gaps between them so I didn’t have to spend as long without another one to look forward to. But then, eventually, I’d read them all and I was bereft.

So I turned to writing crime of my own, in the hopes I could write something that made other people feel that way too. Obsessed, peering into the darkest thoughts of others.

If I have showcased some of these influences in After the Eclipse then it will be a job well done. I’m certainly proud of Cassie in all her imperfect, selfish glory – she isn’t perfect, nor would I want her to be – and for writing a story that holds the victim at its heart, because really Olive is the heart and soul of my novel, and I didn’t want readers to forget about her either.

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