I’ve always been a fan of psychological thrillers as they are such a perfect claustrophobic vehicle for exploring all the parts of human nature hiding in ordinary people that we’d rather not acknowledge. I love the cool unreliability and paranoia of Hitchcock’s characters, and the dark passions and secrets of Polanski’s work. I really wanted to write something imbued with those tones and that would keep the reader guessing every step of the way, and finish with a breathless twist. But what to write about?
It’s really odd being single in your 30s. I’m now single in my 40s, but it’s the 30s that are the strangest time because everyone else, or so it seems, is in ‘peak’ marriage. If you’re not happy being on your own, you’re either waiting for the first round of divorces to come through or tempted to sleep with someone married. It’s not nice, but it’s true. Affairs are part of modern life.
What I find fascinating, and wanted to write about, is how in an affair situation with a married man, the man very quickly becomes almost unimportant to the whole thing – a mistress will want to know everything about the wife, and vice versa should she find out. There is a jealous fascination that the other woman involved will have something special that we don’t have, something that can somehow sustain the intense ‘love’ that comes at the start of a relationship, the drug that we all want, but fades once the comfortable stage of take-aways and sofa joggers arrives, once we’ve taken off the masks we think we need to wear to make men fall in love with us.
Affairs are a modern fear, a worm in the heart of our security. Perhaps more so for women than for men, because we are aware of the power of other women. How easily men – god love them – can be flattered and distracted by something new. Affairs are messy and deceptive and upsetting for everyone involved, but they’re also exciting and passionate and all-consuming. How can anyone fight an affair?
Obviously this is the darker side of relationships. I believe in happy ever after, and good men and good women, but those happy marriages and healthy relationships don’t make for a good thriller and it was the idea of affairs and love and passion that I wanted to explore in Behind Her Eyes. What if the wife and the mistress became friends? What if the mistress started to find something very odd about the dynamic of the marriage she was embroiled in? Which one of them should she choose to believe? And just how far would someone go to keep a person they loved?
Every relationship has unpleasant secrets. Every person has secrets. And I hope that I’ve served these secrets up in a way that would make Hitchcock give me the nod, because this really is a #WTFthatending, even if I say so myself!
Posted on March 13, 2017 by Andrea Johnson