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On Murder Mysteries – Lucy Foley on writing The Guest List

February 3, 2020

“I also love writing about pressure cooker situations. The Hunting Party was certainly one – New Year’s Eve and old friends equals a whole lot of expectation and pressure to have a good time and get along. A wedding, I felt, was another such situation.”

I’m at a stage of life, in my early thirties, when I seem to be attending a lot of weddings. All the weddings I’ve attended have (naturally!) been very well-behaved and special and not at all murderous. But it did get me thinking about the fact that although weddings are wonderful occasions, and an important
celebration of love, they might also elicit a lot of stress and high emotion and cause people to end up behaving pretty badly.

It also got me thinking about the fact that weddings unite different groups of people – old friends, new friends and family, throwing them all together in a way that wouldn’t normally happen in everyday life. And it’s a small world we live in. As such, in the process, perhaps some of the guests would discover links between them that hadn’t yet been uncovered. Perhaps people who were never meant to have met might do so in this setting.

I also love writing about pressure cooker situations. The Hunting Party was certainly one – New Year’s Eve and old friends equals a whole lot of expectation and pressure to have a good time and get along. A wedding, I felt, was another such situation. The need for everything to be perfect, for everyone to behave, to have the best day of their lives – particularly when you’ve got a bride as demanding as Jules Keegan, one of The Guest List’s protagonists. Such events are catnip for an author, I think – particularly a murder mystery author.

And then I thought I would dial up the tension and sense of claustrophobia another notch by setting this wedding on a deserted island – Inis an Amplóra, which was inspired by some of the islands off Ireland’s west coast. I always want the landscape to be like a character in my novels and I was hugely inspired by a trip to Connemara – where half my family hail from – and the rugged beauty of the landscape there. I loved the idea of the contrast between the fancy, rather fussy, high-end wedding and all that wilderness: perilous cliffs, treacherous seas, a peat bog… I loved the idea of the tension created by someone trying to wrest order out of that wild chaos and the landscape resisting…

Thus The Guest List was born. I had such (evil!) fun writing this book and I do hope you enjoy reading it!

– Lucy Foley


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The Guest List

Lucy Foley

Out Now

£12.99 HB

9780008297169


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