Published by Head of Zeus
Available in ebook and hardback (4 October 2018) | Paperback (13 June 2019)
My thanks to Jade of Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part in the tour for Forget My Name and to J S Monroe for providing the guest post. I have already bought this one for my Kindle – it looks just my type of read!
| About the Book |
How do you know who to trust…
…when you don’t even know who you are?
You are outside your front door.
There are strangers in your house.
Then you realise. You can’t remember your name.
She arrived at the train station after a difficult week at work. Her bag had been stolen, and with it, her identity. Her whole life was in there – passport, wallet, house key. When she tried to report the theft, she couldn’t remember her own name. All she knew was her own address.
Now she’s outside Tony and Laura’s front door. She says she lives in their home. They say they have never met her before.
One of them is lying.
THE SENSATIONAL NEW THRILLER FROM THE INTERNATIONALLY BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF FIND ME:
There’s an interesting feature on Amazon that I’ve noticed recently. It’s under the heading “read reviews that mention” and lists key phrases that crop up most often in reviews. I’m not sure it’s healthy for authors to read online reviews (show me an author who doesn’t). I also fear that this new feature smacks of algorithms and we all know where they can lead us. Remember that well-intentioned but faulty Amazon gimmick, quietly dropped, that recommended a book based on the one you’ve just read? But there are two phrases that appear repeatedly in the reviews of Forget My Name, my latest psychological thriller, and Find Me, which came out last year: “Twists and turns” and “kept me guessing”.
Both of them are essential ingredients for a psychological thriller and I’m flattered and gratified that they are showing up enough to be noticed by Amazon’s algorithms (less helpful is the phrase “thanks to netgalley” but that’s algorithms for you). Interestingly, the phrase “unreliable narration” doesn’t feature, but neither does it for Gone Girl, or The Girl on the Train, two of the most popular psychological thrillers of recent times to utilize the device. And that’s because unreliable narration is part of a book’s wiring. It’s behind-the-scenes stuff rather than front of house.
That’s not to say that readers aren’t good at spotting – or expecting – an unreliable narrator. Ever since Amy’s diary in Gone Girl, it’s become a much discussed part of the contemporary psychological thriller. It’s also nothing new as a literary trick. Many of the Arabian tales in One Thousand and One Nights rely on it; Chaucer was at it too in the prologue to The Wife of Bath, in which she incorrectly remembers stories.
I’ve tried to push the device to the very limits in Forget My Name, a story that features an amnesic woman arriving in a Wiltshire village, unable to remember who she is and without any forms of identification. Various people within the community have their own theories about her identity and why she has come to the village. The local GP suspects her of being a dangerous psychiatric patient who used to live locally. The pub’s resident conspiracy theorist thinks she may be a Russian sleeper – the village is, after all, not so far from Salisbury. And a journalist is struck by how much the woman resembles his first girlfriend at school. There is also the woman herself, who is desperate to establish her own identity. It’s a multi-stranded narrative, complicated by the unreliability or otherwise of their accounts. And there might, of course, be a wholly different reason for her arrival.
I’ve come to the conclusion that there are, in effect, only two types of unreliable narrator. The one who unwittingly misrepresents his or her story. And those who set out intentionally to deceive. I experimented with the first in Find Me and I explore the second in Forget My Name. Its “twists and turns” are achieved almost exclusively through the use of deliberate unreliable narration by more than one character, which isn’t a technically easy thing to pull off. The best example I’ve read of this is Clare Mackintosh’s I Let You Go, which features a brilliant twist based entirely on a character’s deliberate misleading of the reader.
The goal, as with any twist, is to stop the reader dead in their tracks and make them return to the beginning of the book and read it all over again. When it comes in Forget My Name, half way through the story, I hope it knocks the wind out of the reader. Although I’m not sure I’d want “wind” as one of Amazon’s algorithmic key phrases…
| About the Author |
J.S.Monroe’s new novel, Forget My Name, was published by Head of Zeus in the UK on 4 October 2018. It will be published in the US as The Last Thing She Remembers by Park Row Books (HarperCollins) in May 2019.
Monroe’s best-selling debut, Find Me, was published in the UK and the US in 2017. Translation rights have been sold to 14 countries.
J.S.Monroe is the pseudonym of author Jon Stock (see separate author page). Jon’s first two novels, The Riot Act, and The India Spy (originally published as The Cardamom Club) are being reissued as eBooks – “J.S.Monroe writing as Jon Stock” – in November 2018.
After reading English at Magdalene College, Cambridge, Jon worked as a freelance journalist in London, writing features for most of Britain’s national newspapers, as well as contributing to BBC Radio 4. He was also chosen for Carlton TV’s acclaimed screenwriters course. In 1995 he lived in Kochi in Kerala, where he worked on the staff of India’s The Week magazine. Between 1998 and 2000, he was a foreign correspondent in Delhi, writing for the Daily Telegraph, South China Morning Post and the Singapore Straits Times. He also wrote the Last Word column in The Week magazine from 1995 to 2012.