I know this is an important novel for you, not only as part of Marnie’s story – could you tell us a little about the influences and the central theme ?
The rise in knife crime, specifically among young people, is something I’ve wanted to write about for a while, largely because of the (often irresponsible) way in which the media reports it and how we’re all becoming numbed by its regularity. Children dying violently and needlessly is one of the most appalling indications that a society is failing, yet we seem to have arrived at a place where we accept it as a feature of our cities. It’s losing its shock value, which in itself is shocking. When I heard Pretana Morgan speak so movingly about the killing of her son, Rhyhiem, in May 2018, I knew I had to write about pain and loss but also about forgiveness and hope. In some ways, Never Be Broken is the darkest of all my books, but I wanted it to also be the one with the most light and hope at the end.
Never Be Broken is also an ending of sorts for Marnie- there’s a strong emotional sense of closure here on one huge part of her psyche- was that difficult to bring to the page?
In one sense, yes, because it was so important to me that I got it right. Readers have invested in Marnie’s story (and backstory), and I wanted to repay their loyalty and patience with an emotional endgame that felt true, and which had a huge impact on the page. In another way, it was very easy to write because it felt like the only way in which this part of her story could ‘end’. Shocking, yes, but also inevitable.
Noah is a hugely popular character and he’s been through the ringer. Is he a favourite to write (even though you are very mean to him!)
I love Noah dearly. Never Be Broken is very much his story. I was pleased when I found a way of telling his story which allowed for humour and warmth as well as pain and suffering. He’s a true hero, in every sense. I was obsessed with Greek heroes as a child, and I feel Noah is very much in that line. Courageous, generous, deserving of better. I hope readers will cheer him on, every step of the way.
Is there one book you’ve read recently that you want to throw at everyone?
Joe Country by Mick Herron. It’s the sixth in his Slough House series, and you have to read all six to get the full benefit. But throwing six books at people might get me arrested for GBH …
Thank you so much!
About the book.
Children are dying on London’s streets. Frankie Reece, stabbed through the heart, outside a corner shop. Others recruited from care homes, picked up and exploited; passed like gifts between gangs. They are London’s lost.
Then Raphaela Belsham is killed. She’s thirteen years old, her father is a man of influence, from a smart part of town. And she’s white. Suddenly, the establishment is taking notice.
DS Noah Jake is determined to handle Raphaela’s case and Frankie’s too. But he’s facing his own turmoil, and it’s becoming an obsession. DI Marnie Rome is worried, and she needs Noah on side. Because more children are disappearing, more are being killed by the day and the swelling tide of violence needs to be stemmed before it’s too late.
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