Grip-lit may be the latest crime craze but let’s not forget its origins in classic domestic suspense. S.J.I. Holliday, author of Willow Walk, cheers on the vengeful female in thrillers and picks her five screen favourites.
My love of the vengeful female comes from my first watching of Stephen King’s Carrie when I was 13. How could I fail to be mesmerised, terrified and dumbstruck by Carrie White’s revenge on her psychotically-religious mother, and the entire school who had ridiculed her sad, oppressed life? Go, Carrie, with your pig’s blood and impressive telekinetic knife throwing skills. You were way cooler than all those generic, simpering pretty girls. And that bloke you fancied had truly awful hair.
Since then, I’ve been completely fascinated (possibly obsessed) by the wronged female who seeks revenge for the awful things that have befallen her. Who decides if she’s justified in her actions? ‘Ha!’, you think. She’s just some crazy lady with hormone issues. Or maybe, just maybe, somebody pushed her too damn far.
In my first novel, Black Wood, I explored the unravelling of the recently single Jo, whose life is slowly disintegrating around her. She becomes obsessed with a face from the past – a man she believes to be responsible for a brutal, life-changing attack on her friend. As she seeks justice for past wrongs, she ends up falling apart. Does she get her revenge? Was it warranted? I’m not going to answer either of those things, but I will say it was fun to write.
My second novel, Willow Walk, sees my feisty barmaid, Marie, battle the demon that is her twin brother. Incarcerated since his teens after destroying her life, she faces a deep, internal struggle – fighting hard to break the bond that ties her to her past. She goes through stages of denial, to a grudging acceptance, and eventually a building anger – until, finally, she snaps.
It’s the tipping point and the resultant snap that makes me love these women so much...
Willow Walk (Black & White Publishing) is out on 10 June.