An Interview with Triona Scully, Author of Nailing Jess

Nailing Jess cover

I’m delighted to be part of the launch celebrations for Nailing Jess by Triona Scully. I have a super publication day interview with Triona for you.

Nailing Jess is published today, 26th June 2017, by Cranachan and is available for e-book purchase and paperback purchase here.

Nailing Jess

Nailing Jess cover

Welcome to Withering, a small town with a big problem in modern, matriarchal Britain. Here the women wear the trousers, while the men hold the handbags. Literally.

There’s a serial strangler on the loose and the bodies of teenage boys are piling up on maverick D.C.I. Jane Wayne’s patch.

Wayne needs to catch ‘The Withering Wringer’, but it’s not going to be easy. Demoted for her inappropriate behaviour, she must take orders from a man—and not just any man—an ugly one.

Still, at least she can rely on her drug stash from a recent police raid to keep her sane…

Shocking. Funny. Clever. A gender-bending, Agatha-Christie-meets-Chris-Brookmyre, mash-up. Simply genius.

Scully’s debut novel takes classic crime and turns it on its head with a deliciously absurd comic twist.

An Interview with Triona Scully

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Triona. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing and Nailing Jess in particular. Firstly, please could you tell me a little about yourself?

Thank you for having me, Linda, and for using the phrase ‘considerable humour’, which will be incorporated into my marketing, at the earliest opportunity.

I’m an Edinburgh based Irish writer. Nailing Jess is my first novel. I wrote the first draft in six weeks a few years back.

Why do you write and when did you realise you were going to be a writer?

Because I always have. I’ve always felt like a writer, but before Nailing Jess, I’d never written anything with enough commercial potential to pursue to publication.

Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?

I find it easiest to free flow words and ideas. I find returning and re-writing harder. Being edited, and having to incorporate other people’s opinions into the process, I find most challenging of all.

What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?

I write at home, in the morning, when Mikey is at school. I work at the living room table, by a window, over-looking my unkempt garden.

Without spoiling the plot, please could you tell us a bit about Nailing Jess?

Nailing Jess is a fairly gruesome crime novel with a very high body count and an ever narrowing pool of suspects. It’s also a tale of an unlikely friendship between two people from very different worlds. Lastly, it as a satire on both these concepts.

So often teenage girls are the victims in crime novels but you’ve chosen to make boys the victims in Nailing Jess. What made you decide to buck the usual trend?

Nailing Jess is set in a matriarchy but it is not so much a tale of female empowerment, as it is of male disempowerment. The women in the book don’t come off looking so good, but at least they are, for the most part, still alive. It was very important that the boys and men be victims, because I wanted to explore how that would look and feel and be for them. I wanted people to connect with the innocence and hope the boys shared. I wanted them to see those same boys, post strangulation, presented in a titillating fashion. Death itself an extension of the sexual act, leaving behind a sexual corpse. I wanted to show how that might feel like. Is a silk stocking still sexy, if the dead leg it’s attached to is male?

(Oh – good question! I wonder what blog readers think?)

Nailing Jess is decribed as ‘The most shocking book you’ll read this year’. How far was shocking the reader a deliberate intention in your writing.

I’m not sure how much it featured in the creative process. I was very conscious of having an over the top plot, that would enable me to present the female characters at their very worst, and the male characters at their most vulnerable. More than anything else, I wanted woman as subject, with all the best action and dialogue, and man as object, however pretty, destined for background.

I know you often torment yourself in the middle of the night with ‘What if..?’ questions. Why do you do it and how do you deal with this?

Now, If I knew why Linda… I think it’s just part of the tortured artist psyche, that I can never completely lose. Motherhood, for me, was an amazing leveller. It allowed me to live in the now, in a way I’d never been able to master before. It forced me to be positive, because children do that, and it enabled me to kick a life-long habit of over thinking, over analysing and over sharing. Writing a book, and putting it out there, taps into a base human fear of rejection. For reasons varied and complex, that matter little to anyone but me, I have an acute fear of rejection. It’s ironic, because I’ve never been a mainstream thinker.

Nailing Jess has considerable humour. How did you manage incorporating humour into a story about a psychopath?

‘Considerable Humour’. That will be tweeted later. Many thanks, Linda, because that was my absolute intention. One of my favourite movies in my teenage years was ‘Serial Mom’. It featured the out-standing Kathleen Turner as a suburban mother, who, when she wasn’t either making cup-cakes or folding laundry, was killing people in ever more gruesome and absurd ways. Best of all, she got away with it! Not for her the tortured ramblings of Lady Macbeth, post-kill, she’d mop up the blood in a pair of kitten heels, whilst slow cooking a roast in the oven. I’d never seen a woman portrayed in this way. It should have been shocking, but I found it hilarious. The killer in Nailing Jess isn’t a funny character, nor are the killings. But, everything surrounding them is. People are more receptive to ideas, if they can find humour in them.

Your protagonist DCI Jane Wayne has a man’s name as her surname. Was there a particular message you wanted to convey in naming her this way?

John Wayne is to me a perfect archtype of masculinity. Of course, he’s a bit dated, but so too is masculinity, and yet… I wanted Jane Wayne to have all the gravitas that this name holds.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?

Crime, mostly. Though I’ve just finished a Marian Keyes, which I guess would be chick -lit. Only that’s just a lazy term for almost all women’s writing coined, we must assume, by the patriarchy.

(Interesting point – I’m not sure where the term originated.)

If you could choose to be a character from Nailing Jess, who would you be and why?

Wayne, I’d love to be Wayne. She’s so irreverent. I’d love to be that rude. Always. Sometimes, I’m a little rude, like I might mumble ‘thanks’, or if you’ve really provided bad service, I might with-hold thanks, but there’s very little gratification in it. I don’t think I’m a naturally polite person. I am very polite, but I’ve been socialised and conditioned to be this way, so who can tell? I could perceive it as a virtue, and that’s how most women sell it to themselves, but I’m not sure it is.

If you had 15 words to persuade a reader that Nailing Jess should be their next read, what would you say?

It’s a cracking crime caper and a wry observation of gender politics.

Thank you so much for your time in answering my questions Triona and happy publication day.

Thank you Linda.

About Triona Scully


Born in Ireland Triona now lives in Edinburgh where she enjoys writing, current affairs and heading out for long walks on the beach. Formally neurotic, motherhood has changed all that!

You can follow Triona on Twitter and visit her blog. You’ll also find her on Facebook.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

nailing jess poster

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