Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Evie Green Interview - We Hear Voices


Photo Content from Evie Green

Evie Green is a pseudonym for a British author who has written professionally for her entire adult life. She lives by the sea in England with her husband, children, and guinea pigs, and loves writing in the very early morning, fueled by coffee.
        
  


Tell us about WE HEAR VOICES! 
It’s the story of a little boy, Billy, who almost dies during a pandemic but recovers with the help of a new imaginary friend. Delfy, the friend, helps him back to health, and his mother, Rachel, is initially delighted by his progress. But then things start going very wrong, as the things Delfy makes him do become more and more distressing, until Rachel has to face the fact that this is no ordinary imaginary friend. 

It’s set in a near-future, post pandemic London, and features, among other things, a secret underground hospital, a space colonization program, and a lot of spiders. Mainly, though, it’s a family story that deals with the human and emotional effects of the unthinkable happening to a child. 

What inspired you to write WE HEAR VOICES? 
I think the moment it started was when I found a copy of Chocky, a 1968 novel by John Wyndham, in a second hand bookshop. Chocky also features a little boy with a voice in his head, and it sparked something in me. I took the idea and rain with it. I spent about five years writing it and am a little freaked out by how much the world caught up with the fairly dystopian future I thought I was inventing: the book was completely finished before COVID-19 came along. I thought I was inventing compulsory facemasks on public transport, for example, and now when my kids set off for school I’m the one going: ‘have you got a mask? is it clean? are you sure? do you have hand sanitizer?’ and so on. 

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way? 
The book that first made me want to be a writer was Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood. I vividly remember reading it in my late teens, and being entirely captivated by it, and then, for the first time, having a spark of, ‘I want to do something like this’. Later, as I moved from journalism to writing fiction I found my writing influenced by all kinds of things: stylistically, I think I evolved as a writer by reading widely, and by writing every day, but I’m also constantly inspired by the world around me. A tiny news story can kick off a whole book, and a throwaway comment I overhear out and about can send me down all kinds of new pathways. 

Emotionally, WE HEAR VOICES is very much a response to everything going on in the world right now. I’m quite surprised, now that I can look at it from a distance, by how directly I channelled all my anxieties about the world, and particularly parenthood, into this book. 

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. 
This is a strange one, but here in the UK there’s a very long running TV series called Coronation Street, and earlier this year one of my books was briefly mentioned in a scene set in a prison library. I was incredibly excited and decided it was the best moment of my career. 

What do you hope for readers to take away from WE HEAR VOICES? 
Although it sounds gritty from the synopsis, it’s actually a fun read. I really pushed things to the limit here — the book is a blend of horror, sci fi, mystery and family drama — and I hope people will just sit back and enjoy the ride. I know we might have pandemic fatigue, but and WE HEAR VOICES is set in the aftermath, as things are getting back to normal (for everyone but my characters), so in its way, and even though it’s a horror book, it gives a bit of hope too. 

What part of Rachel did you enjoy writing the most? 
I have three children, and so does she, and I really enjoyed writing the little moments of normal humdrum life, amongst all the horror. No matter what is going on, she still needs to know, as best she can, where her children are, what they’re doing, if they’re ok and whether they’ve eaten healthily, and so on. Those details of normal life are always a backdrop, no matter what. 

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why? 
Great question! After much consideration, I would love to introduce Graham Watson, the doctor who specializes in treating children with voices in their heads, to Danny Torrance from the Shining. Poor Danny suffers so much from his psychic abilities, and I think a bit of time with Graham would do him a lot of good. Plus he’d meet other kids like himself, and that has to be a comfort. 

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating Delfy and Billy? 
There are plenty of spiders in this book, and I spent quite a bit of time researching them. I was delighted to discover the existence of ‘social spiders’: they live in colonies and work together to build giant webs and overcome much bigger prey. In fact I became so obsessed with spiders that my husband bought me a book about them for my birthday (and that was how I knew I had married the right man). 

What was the best memory you ever had as a writer? 
For me, it’s always the moments that involve meeting readers. I say that somewhat wistfully in 2020! In 2019 I made a wonderful trip to the Netherlands, traveling from Britain by train, to visit a YA literary festival in Eindhoven. I spent the day in a theatre with fellow writers Stephanie Garber and Alice Broadway, plus an audience of amazing, engaged, excited Dutch readers. It was extremely hot outside, and the day was intense and exhilarating. I loved every moment of it, plus the travel, and have looked back on it often during Covid lockdowns this year. 

Where can readers find you? 
On my website, emilybarr.com. On twitter under my real name, @emily_barr. And Evie is also on instagram @eviehearsvoices. 

TEN FAVORITE READS EVER
  • Cat’s Eye — Margaret Atwood 
  • The Book of Strange New Things — Michel Faber 
  • The Heart’s Invisible Furies — John Boyne 
  • Americanah — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 
  • The Emperor’s Babe — Bernadine Evaristo 
  • A Suitable Boy — Vikram Seth 
  • Frenchman’s Creek — Daphne Du Maurier 
  • Long Way to A Small Angry Planet — Becky Chambers 
  • Fingersmith — Sarah Waters 
  • Circe — Madeline Miller 
DELETED SCENES FROM WE HEAR VOICES 
I spent so much time editing WE HEAR VOICES that I had to go for the deleted scenes option on this one, as I have so many of them to choose from! 

This scene was initially a prologue to the book. The character Daphne later had a name change, so in the book she’s now Imogen. This section was taken out mainly because I had written a draft that was hugely long, so I was looking for things to cut, and also because we all felt it worked better to open with Billy nearly dying, and then recovering. But at one point, this would have been the way it all began: 

Some things were best seen on a big screen, and in here the screen was huge. The pub was usually clattery and shouty but now it was quiet. All the faces were turned in the same direction. Everyone held their collective breath and waited. 

‘I’m not sure I’d really fancy traveling home like this,’ Graham whispered to his wife. Daphne sipped her sherry. 

‘Well,’ she whispered back. ‘No one’s going to ask you to, are they darling? We’ll be long dead by the time this kind of thing becomes commonplace.’ 

‘But what if I want to go?’ 

‘You just said you didn’t.’ 

‘I said I didn’t want to come back. Not that I don’t want to go. I like the idea of the journey there. Just not being flung into the ocean by way of a homecoming.’ 

Daphne rolled her eyes and sighed. 

‘Then they could leave you there.’ 

He was being annoying on purpose. Daphne often made him irritable. She was so perfect all the time, with her red lipstick and her mocking eyes. The pair of them were old, and they bickered more now than they had at twenty two, a million years ago. When he was young he had thought old people were dull and agreeable, but it turned out that he and Daphne were not. 

‘Please,’ she said. ‘Be my guest.’ She gestured to the window, inviting him to go there, up into the rain clouds and far, far away, on a one way ticket. 

They carried on drinking in silence. The rain smashed against the pub windows. 

The camera was just showing the sky. Everyone was watching and waiting. It went on and on, like an experiment to find out how long you can make everyone in the world look at the same patch of nothing. Then a speck appeared, and it grew bigger. A cheer went up in the pub. Graham joined in: he couldn’t help himself. He cheered and whooped along with the best of them. Daphne allowed herself a little smile, though Graham wasn’t sure whether it was at the mission’s safe return or his own ridiculousness. Both, probably. 


Nina, who was fifteen, was watching it at school. They were sitting on tables, looking at the interactive board where it was being projected from someone’s phone. There were thirty three teenagers and a teacher in the room, and all of them were just waiting. 

Nina’s heart pounded and she was too scared to sit still. She fidgeted, swung her legs, looked away from the screen and then back again. She watched a raindrop trickling all the way down the window and then looked back at the bluer sky on the screen. This meant so much. They had to get back safely because so much depended on it. It was a turning point for humans, and also, personally, for her. 

The capsule got bigger and bigger. It was coming close, and then the camera blurred out and focused on it properly. It was conical, and they all knew that there were five people inside it. They all knew their names. Guy Clement, Aki Komatsu, Terri Griffin. They knew all about them. Guy Clement was the first British astronaut to visit the Rock, and the entire country was willing him safely home. 

Nina longed with all her heart to become one of the next British astronauts to make the journey. Any day now she would hear whether she had been accepted onto the pre-pre-pre training programme. This shuttle had to come back safely. It had to because her whole future depended on it. 


Rachel was yawning at her desk. She couldn’t stay awake, because she was six months pregnant and she was exhausted, constantly. She knew she had to concentrate, because she was the receptionist, the face of the company, but it wasn’t easy. You couldn’t actually fall asleep at your desk, because it gave a bad impression of this self consciously energetic and enthusiastic investment fund. 

At lunchtimes, though, she sometimes found an empty meeting room, switched its sign to ‘occupied’, locked the door and slept under a table for the entire hour. This baby was taking every bit of her energy, and she wasn’t even going to be born until May. 

The office was in the huge old tower at Canary Wharf. It was a heritage site, and the inside of the fund, on the seventh floor, was kept immaculate. Women’s shoes (the kind they had to wear in of environment) clattered as they walked. Men’s sometimes squeaked. The TV screens always showed rolling news with subtitles on and the volume off, but Rachel had forgotten that the shuttle was coming back today. She gave one last yawn, and watched it becoming bigger on the screen. She couldn’t remember whether it was the sort that crashed into the sea, but given its shape, she thought it probably was. It didn’t look as if it was going to land on a runway. 

She saw it fall into the sea and thought it looked all right. Nina would be pleased. 

The baby kicked. Rachel put her hand on her stomach and felt the bump of a tiny limb. This baby would be born into a very strange new world. 


They weren’t watching it at Billy’s school because the television was broken. They were outside instead, running around the playground while some of the teachers followed it on their phones. Billy and his friends were five. 

‘There it is!’ shouted Billy’s best friend, Lola. The other children joined in, pointing and shouting. Billy followed Lola’s pointing finger to the sky. 

‘I think it’s a bird, Lola,’ he said. It landed in a tree. On balance, it probably wasn’t the shuttle back from space. 


Rachel’s mother Orla was having a one-woman party in her flat. She had made bunting and a banner that read: ‘Welcome back to the space pioneers. God bless you every one’, and she had hung it from her balcony. Nina had told her that the only people who would be able to read it, given that she was on the fifteenth floor, were the people in the nearest tower block at the same level, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that she was asking God to bless them, and God would certainly be able to read it. 

She sat on the edge of the sofa and watched the shuttle disappear into the Arctic sea, and then bob back up again. The commentator made it clear that this was a good thing. 

‘You’re home,’ she said. ‘And now everything changes.’ 


An eerie horror debut about a little boy who recovers from a mysterious pandemic and inherits an imaginary friend who makes him do violent things...

Kids have imaginary friends. Rachel knows this. So when her young son, Billy, miraculously recovers from a horrible flu that has proven fatal for many, she thinks nothing of Delfy, his new invisible friend. After all, her family is healthy and that's all that matters.

But soon Delfy is telling Billy what to do, and the boy is acting up and lashing out in ways he never has before. As Delfy's influence is growing stranger and more sinister by the day, and rising tensions threaten to tear Rachel's family apart, she clings to one purpose: to protect her children at any cost--even from themselves.

We Hear Voices is a mischievously gripping near-future horror novel that tests the fragility of family and the terrifying gray area between fear and love.

Praise for WE HEAR VOICES

“An electrifying science fiction thriller that chronicles the aftermath of a pandemic.” —Publisher's Weekly (starred review)

“Evie Green expertly blends the paranormal and the 'new normal' in a story that is both outlandish and eerily familiar...compelling, addictive and a perfect example of how we use stories to understand ourselves, the world, and our collective social experiences.” —Anna Downes, author of The Safe Place

“We Hear Voices is startling in both its prescience and premise. Deliciously chilling, this is also a book filled with heart—the terror experienced by Rachel when she discovers her little boy has survived a terrible virus, only to suffer from voice-hearing, is breathtaking in its realism. While the plot is perfectly-paced and races to a terrifying climax, the relationships between the characters are gorgeous, and stay with the reader long after their heart rate returns to normal.” —C. J. Cooke, author of The Nesting

“A fusion of horror and social commentary that chills.” —Kirkus

You can purchase We Hear Voices at the following Retailers:
        

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you EVIE GREEN for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of We Hear Voices by Evie Green.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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8 comments:

  1. I grew up 1 mile from where I live now in NY

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  2. I grew up in the country in Southwestern Ontario and still live in this area.
    lindacfast@hotmail.com

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  3. "Where did you grow up?" In the United States.

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  4. I grew up in New Jersey until high school. I moved to SoCal then.

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  5. I grew up in the huge town of Cedarburg, Wisconsin.

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