A few words by Alice Bell, for her forthcoming book, Grave Expectations.
Anyone who grew up in a rural area with no internet will be familiar with “making your own fun”, which can be anything from going for a nice bike ride to fashioning a sort of firework rocket launcher by attaching a tea tray to a length of pipe (which is the sort of thing only vicious, unsupervised teenagers in the UK do, and certainly not something I would condone).
It was something I started thinking about a lot during lockdown, when I was also reading a lot of very intense thrillers – you know, the kind of things that start with a detective looking at a murdered sex worker, while a CSO says something like “it’s the Wombinator again, John!”, and explains which bits of the woman have been cut off. So the maelstrom of my thoughts was something like: murder, being a teenager, being unserious, and the strange posh people who live in big houses around where I grew up. Trust me: however weird you think English posh people are – and I appreciate you probably think they’re really weird – they are absolutely more weird than that.
Grave Expectations is a result of all of that. It’s about a freelance medium who discovers a year-old murder at a country house, and sets about trying to solve it with the help of some new friends, as well as her best friend Sophie. I really love murder (and in books), and I wanted a cosy mystery that represented more of what I feel is cosy – what is familiar and comforting to me. This includes, but is not limited to: swearing, crying, trying your best, Super Noodles, police procedural TV shows, and having friends with better clothes than you. And, of course, feeling like you’re always going to be treated like a teenager, which is represented quite literally by a character in my book.
Oh yes, and it has ghosts. I think ghosts are very interesting, even though I don’t believe in them. It’s an off-shoot of my interest in horror; people’s reactions to horror are very honest. You can’t fake being scared, and what does scare you can be revealing. We never imagine nice or silly ghosts sticking around – unless they want to kiss Christina Ricci.
I probably buried the lede by not mentioning the ghosts up top. To me that’s not actually the main thing about the book. My hope is that Grave Expectations is a light read that will accidentally make you think about things, and that you’ll want to be friends with the characters in it. At least, I do, which is why I wrote them. Whomst among us doesn’t feel haunted by their past sometimes?
You can now pre-order Grave Expectations by Alice Bell at Dubray.