I can’t say the name of the fantastic thriller, Close My Eyes, without humming the Beatles’ song with similar lyrics even though it starkly contrasts with the macabre vibe that pulsed through the novel. When Geniver Loxley lost her daughter at birth eight years ago, her world stopped… and never fully started again. Mothers with strollers still make her flinch; her love of writing has turned into a half-hearted teaching career; and she and her husband, Art, have slipped into the kind of rut that seems inescapable. But then a stranger shows up on their doorstep, telling Gen the very thing she’s always wanted to hear: that her daughter Beth was not stillborn, but was taken away as a healthy infant and is still out there, somewhere, waiting to be found. It’s insane, unbelievable. But why would anyone make that up? Gen begins to delve into the dark corners of her past, hopeful she’ll find a clue to her daughter’s whereabouts. But hope quickly turns into fear and paranoia, as she realizes that finding the answers might open the door to something even worse than not knowing. A truth that could steal everything she holds close – even her own life.
I could not put this book down, and found the writing to be magnetic. Sophie McKenzie drew me right into the crazy world surrounding Gen, so I was really excited when she interrupted her current book project to indulge my curiosity! Enjoy!
Dana, Thanks so much for your lovely post and fab review. You have given me some great questions to ponder. Many thanks for this opportunity to talk about Close My Eyes. I’m so delighted you enjoyed it!
The Arthur story provided part of the inspiration; there are parallels with the legend in terms of both character names and elements of the plot. Why? Well, I first started planning Close My Eyes at the end of 2007, just after I’d written a short children’s book based on the Arthur legend. I started thinking about how having a child is a ‘holy grail’ for some women and how easy it is to become obsessed with getting pregnant. Having experienced secondary infertility, I found myself imagining just how terrible it would be to fail to get pregnant a second time after having actually lost the first baby.
Was is difficult making Gen a protagonist who was both focused and emotional?
I pictured Gen’s situation: how she might feel completely defeated by all this – and the impact it might have on her relationship with her ultra-successful husband. All this led me to what is really at the heart of the novel: Gen’s desperate search for her child and the agonising realisation that if her daughter really is alive, her husband has utterly betrayed her.
What made you explore familial bonds in such a variety of ways?
I started working on the story (then called Grail) in 2007. I had written a lot of children’s books up to that point and was keen to try my hand at writing for an older audience. I knew that the story as it stood needed a grown-up female protagonist. Close My Eyes was my chance to write a contemporary psychological thriller for adults
Did you know how the book would end when you started writing it?
What an interesting question – I actually didn’t work out the last page until I was about half way through – it really spurred me on once I had!