Thursday, April 28, 2022

Q&A with Phoebe Morgan



Phoebe Morgan is the author of the new novel The Wild Girls. Her other books include The Doll House. She is an editorial director at HarperCollins UK, and she lives in London.



Q: Why did you decide to set The Wild Girls on a safari in Botswana?


A: I wrote The Wild Girls in the depths of lockdown 1, which was from March to the summer of 2020, and at the time, I was desperate to escape from the four walls of my apartment.


I had already decided I wanted to go a little out of my comfort zone and write a novel set in a far-flung destination, and thanks to the internet I was able to do some research and pull up photos and videos of the safari lodges that the Deception Valley Lodge complex in the book is based on.


I loved the idea of a locked-room mystery and the intrigue and suspense that a safari location would create – I wanted the women to be dealing with tension not only from within their friendship group but from their surroundings, too.


My hope was that readers could escape from the horror of the pandemic by losing themselves in the heat of Botswana.


Q: How did you create your four characters, and how would you describe the dynamic among them?


A: The four women in the novel--Felicity, Grace, Hannah, and Alice--were all very important to me. Originally, I wrote them all in first person, but my editor suggested I change some of them to third person, thereby making Grace more of a central main character, the one the reader feels the most invested in.


The dynamic between the women is a tense one – at one point in their lives, they were very close, but then everything changed on one fateful night. Each of them is still struggling with the repercussions of that evening, but there’s also something in them that wants to rekindle their previous closeness.


I really enjoyed creating the four distinct “wild girls” and their backstories. I always think it’s so important for characters to have clear backstories, even if they only exist in the writer’s mind rather than on the page.

Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: I’m not a huge planner but I do usually know the rough endings of my novels when I begin – it’s more the middle that I don’t always have completely figured out. This book had some editing but not as much as some of my previous books – the story really just flowed and had quite a smooth feel to it from the very start.


Some extra twists came to me later in the day, of course, and I took on board some very helpful comments from my agent and editor in the UK. I always like playing with my readers’ emotions and adding in final twists right at the end to leave them guessing…


Q: Can you say more about what you hope readers take away from the story?


A: I hope readers will understand the intricacies of each of the characters and the worries they have as young women – the book deals with infertility, abusive relationships, parental issues and more – and I hope these come across in a sensitive way.


I also hope readers get a strong sense of Botswana and the luxury of the safari lodges in particular, that the writing alerts their senses and gives them a form of escapism – especially as international travel is harder now than it used to be pre-pandemic.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’ve just finished the draft of my fifth book, currently called The Trip which should be out in 2023. This one is about two couples who go on holiday to Thailand, and end up being arrested for manslaughter.


Again, it’s an escapist destination with a strong group dynamic – I’m always very interested in ensemble situations and the way power shifts between people, and I hope my readers are going to enjoy it.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: As well as writing, I also work in publishing as a fiction editor and there is lots of information about writing and publishing on my author website:


I love to hear from readers, so if you enjoyed The Wild Girls, please do tag me, or get in touch on @Phoebe_A_Morgan on Twitter, @phoebeannmorgan on Instagram, or @PhoebeMorganAuthor on Facebook.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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