I’m really pleased to introduce talented fellow psychological thriller author Jo Fenton to my blog today.
Thanks so much, Alice, for inviting me onto your blog to talk about my new book, Revelation.
For this novel, I had to send my memories back to 1989, and the time I was a student in Manchester. The characters and plot are purely fictitious, but the setting was real.
The Halls of Residence go unnamed in the book – I didn’t want to put off any prospective students – but anyone who has lived in Fallowfield, Manchester in the last thirty or more years will recognise the descriptions.
I confess to a little fudging of certain details. When I was a student in Halls, I used to bring my washing home every 3 weeks, and it never occurred to me to look for a launderette. My protagonist, Dan, is a fastidious soul, even in grief, and needs to wash his own clothes. Hence, a launderette appeared in the book – set in the shops on Wilmslow Road. It perhaps says something about the friends I made, that when I was researching this book, none of them could remember the location of the nearest launderette either!
The main reason I chose 1989 for the timing of this story (apart from my familiarity with student life in that period) was the isolation inherent in being a student at that time.
Unlike now, when students have constant access to their mobile phones, in 1989, in my Halls, there was one payphone shared between 46 students. There was an additional bank of payphones in the courtyard if we were really desperate, but most people just waited for the house phone to be free so they could call home.
In the scenario of Revelation, Dan is struggling with grief, and has a dysfunctional family. He meets Alan, a religious leader, who appears keen to help Dan, but Alan lives on the other side of Manchester. Difficulties in accessing support influence Dan’s decision to stay with Alan for a while.
The end of the 1980s was a period in which harassment was rife, but few people spoke about it. In the book, Becky and her friend Theresa are victims of abuse from lecturers. Becky faces a choice, but prosecution of her abuser is not one of the options. Who would believe her anyway? An 18 year old girl against a well-respected law professor. She didn’t have a chance.
AIDS was one of the biggest fears of the decade. Dan was very aware of his sexuality, but was afraid to come out to the man he loved, because he feared the reaction. AIDS was an excuse and an exacerbation of the homophobia that was prevalent at that time.
The book also touches on anti-Semitism. A new arrival in Halls makes it clear that he hates Becky and Dan for being Jewish. Becky speculates on possible reasons for this. In real life, though, the undercurrent of hatred presented itself in unexpected ways: the dissolution of a friendship when a religious affiliation became known; difficult debates in the student union, with the threat of disbarment if the vote went the wrong way. Unfortunately, hatred for reasons of race, religion or sexual orientation still exist. Society still has work to do to eradicate bigotry.
There were some great things about this period. The music was fantastic (I’m perhaps a bit biased because of my age); and there were some amazing books and films – a few of which are mentioned in the book.
Revelation explores several of the themes of its time, but also some themes that are timeless: families, grief, friendship, depression, unrequited love and revenge.
On the other hand, if you just want to read an exciting thriller, please feel free to ignore the above, and just focus on the story!
About the book:
Manchester, 1989 A student, Rick, is found dead in halls of residence. His friends get caught up in the aftermath: Dan, who was in love with Rick; and Becky, who is in love with Dan. Their fraught emotions lead them into dark places – particularly a connection to a mysterious Kabbalistic sect. Will Becky discover who killed Rick in time to save her best friend?
About the author:
Jo Fenton grew up in Hertfordshire. She devoured books from an early age and, at eleven, discovered Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer. She now has an eclectic and much loved book collection cluttering her home office.
Jo combines an exciting career in Clinical Research with an equally exciting but very different career as a writer of psychological thrillers.
When not working, she runs (very slowly), and chats to lots of people. She lives in Manchester with her family and is an active and enthusiastic member of two writing groups and two reading groups.
Revelation will be released on Amazon on 24th February
It’s available for pre-order at mybook.to/beckywhite1
My other books are also available on Amazon:
The Brotherhood: https://t.co/YXdn8AM506 The Refuge: http://mybook.to/therefuge
You can find me on social media at: Website www.jofenton137.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jofentonauthor/