When Milla Graham arrives in the picture-perfect village of Buckley, she tells everyone she’s investigating the murder of her mother who died eighteen years ago. But there’s already one Milla Graham buried in the churchyard and another about to be found dead in the derelict family mansion.
Obviously she’s lying.
Detective Inspector Ben Taylor has no life outside the police force. Even his own colleagues think he’s a boring stick-in-the-mud. But now he’s met Milla and his safe, comfortable life has been turned upside down. She’s crashed his car, emptied his wallet and is about to get him fired.
He knows she’s a liar because she cheerfully told him so. Unless she’s lying about that too…
I’m seeing excellent reviews of the new novel by Louise Marley: Trust Me I Lie was published on 20th June for kindle, and I’m really looking forward to reading and reviewing it in October (and just wish I could get to it sooner!).
I’m delighted to welcome Louise to Being Anne today – with a lovely guest post on the enduring appeal of fairy tales…
Way back in time, before the Internet, before TV, before even books (but not quite as far back as ‘when dinosaurs roamed the earth’), an evening’s entertainment would consist of everyone gathering around the fireside and telling each other stories. These stories would go on to be passed down through the centuries, surviving today due to the efforts of collectors such as Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm, who thought to write them down for future generations, although not always in the way they had been originally told!
For instance, in an early version of Little Red Riding Hood the heroine saves herself by out-smarting the wolf, rather than relying on a conveniently passing huntsman. In Charles Perrault’s version, written in 1697, Little Red ends up being eaten by the wolf. She has had far too good a time skipping through the woods to Grandma’s house, picking flowers and playing with the butterflies, obviously she’s going to walk straight into the path of a predator. The story was intended as a warning for young girls to beware of sweet-talking strangers. In the Brothers Grimm version of this story our heroine has a lucky escape, but in Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes Little Red shoots the wolf herself. In more recent times, and perhaps influenced by the success of the Twilight series or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the idea of a monster as the love interest, the wolf/werewolf has evolved into the hero of many paranormal romances. Lucky Little Red!
So why are fairy tales still popular after all these years? Well, it’s fantasy at its finest and yet also has the comfort of the familiar. If you’ve ever seen ‘You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you meet a handsome prince’ written on a scatter cushion, you’ll know it refers to The Frog Prince. And never underestimate the appeal of a guaranteed happy ending, sadly not always possible in real life.
The simple plot of a fairy tale means it can also be embellished by the person telling the story and specifically tailored to the audience with cultural references, or by adding extra heart-stopping twists if they appear to be in danger of nodding off. And the stories always have an archetypal character everyone recognises: a handsome prince, a wicked stepmother, or a fairy godmother to save the day. Many romances are basically a variation of Cinderella: downtrodden heroine meets wealthy/high status hero and lives happily ever after. Remember Pretty Woman? Or how about a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, where the hero is definitely human rather than a monster under a spell, but flawed either physically or emotionally and waiting for the love of a good woman to save him? Fifty Shades of Grey perhaps?
A few years ago I saw a film called The Brothers Grimm, starring Matt Damon and Heath Ledger. It was a fantasy retelling of their lives, cleverly making them the heroes of their own fairy tale. What particularly appealed to me was the amount of allusions to famous fairy tales – some very ‘blink and you’ll miss them’. I thought it might be fun to write a novel in the same way. Not as a reimagined fairy tale or fantasy, but a contemporary murder mystery with fairy tale references scattered throughout the story – like breadcrumbs!
I created Patrick Graham, a publisher famous for his heirloom versions of fairy tale classics – and also notorious for murdering his entire family. And Milla, who may or may not be his daughter, who lies every time she opens her mouth. And poor Detective Inspector Ben Taylor, who’s expected to make sense of it all, despite feeling as though he’s fallen down a rabbit hole.
So that’s my own version of Once Upon a Time, but do any of my characters get to live Happily Ever After? Well…
Thank you, Louise. I really enjoyed that – and I’m dying to read Trust Me I Lie in October. It’s lovely to welcome another member of Novelistas Ink to Being Anne… and I also notice you live a mere stone’s throw from where I was born and brought up…
About the author
Louise Marley writes murder mysteries and romantic comedies. She lives in Wales, surrounded by fields of sheep, and has a beautiful view of Snowdon from her window. Her first published novel was Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, which was a finalist in Poolbeg’s ‘Write a Bestseller’ competition. She has also written articles for the Irish press and short stories for UK women’s magazines such as Take a Break and My Weekly. Her latest novel is Trust Me I Lie.