By Leslie Lindsay
Could your neighbor make you angry enough to kill? That’s what Louise Candlish sets out to discover in her new domestic thriller, THOSE PEOPLE.
Last year’s critically acclaimed OUR HOUSE had me on my toes wondering ‘who did it and why;’ I was flipping the pages uber-fast. And I love that Louise is focused on middle class suburbia, and those lingering ‘what-if’ questions. In THOSE PEOPLE (June 2019), she is acidly wry with sharp insights about human nature.
For the families on Lowland Way, everything is pretty darn idyllic. The homes are stately and the neighborhood is sought-after by homeowners, the children attend good schools, and there’s that new ‘Play Out Sunday’ initiative in which a local homeowner has organized raising good press. But things on Lowland way take a nose dive when Darren and Jodie move in.
Here, we meet several groups of neighbors–the married brothers who share a back garden, the couple with the new baby, the B&B owner, and well, Darren and Jodie who play loud music at all hours, are in constant renovations, repairing and selling used cars on the front lawn, and refuse to ‘make nice,’ with any neighbors.
Someone is killed. And then someone else. Accusations and nit-picking abound. Everyone and no one has a motive. Told in a retroactive style, we start knowing there’s been a horrible accident, a police inquiry, and homeowners being ‘interviewed,’ which gives this a slight police procedural feel. The writing is wry, snappy, and we slip back and forth between time and POV, which means hearing the same thing in a different light. I loved the references to the homes themselves, the idea of an ideal neighborhood, and of course, how simple things, like a neighbor, can push us over the edge.
Those who like ambiguous endings might like the puzzle of THOSE PEOPLE, in which there really is no clear resolution, no clear winner or loser. If you like BIG LITTLE LIES and DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, I think you’ll love THOSE PEOPLE.
Please join me in welcoming Louise Candlish back to the author interview series.
Hi, Louise! I am always, always wondering why this book, why now? Another author friend of mine says you should start writing when your pot is ‘bubbling over.’ And so what was it for you?
Thank you for having me! I had been immersed in property stories while writing OUR HOUSE and noticed a huge number of news stories about neighborhood vendettas. They were riveting – and often scary – and the plot of THOSE PEOPLE started to brew in the background while I completed OUR HOUSE. I had a bad neighbor myself a few years ago, a DIY fanatic who drilled at dawn and lit bonfires that smoked out our house, and I drew on the helpless fury I felt.
“This fiendishly twisty and suspenseful tale of secrets, lies, jealousy, and intrigue keeps readers guessing until the very end. Fans of Celeste Ng and Leila Slimani will be pleased with this contemporary take on families and violence.”
I love how you focus on houses and homes, neighbors, and neighborhoods. There’s so much that can wrong—or right—but often times, we’re all flawed human beings. Those walls cannot always contain our domestic agony. It starts to leak out. Can you talk about that, please?
Domestic noir is often concerned with what goes on behind closed doors, but THOSE PEOPLE puts much of the drama out in the street, too. What fascinates me about humans is how we know the rational way to deal with disagreement, the civilized way, and yet emotions cause matters to escalate into something more primitive. In THOSE PEOPLE there is not enough support from the authorities. Even grown-ups need a bit of supervision sometimes.
Also, in THOSE PEOPLE, we see how a small community like the residents of Lowland Way can slowly devolve to the brink of madness. We get terribly uncomfortable with those around us, we obsess and do strange things. Was that your goal here? What do you hope readers ‘take away?’
A couple of things. One: it’s natural to obsess and to feel hateful and even murderous impulses when your home and family is threatened, but you must not act on these impulses. Winning a petty victory over a boundary conflict or parking infraction is less satisfying if you’re in a prison cell as a consequence. Second: everyone’s life, everyone’s opinion, is of equal value. Some of the residents of Lowland Way seem to think theirs is worth more, and this is their undoing.
Does Lowland Way actually exist? I am guessing not, but can you tell us where you’ve borrowed some of your ideas for the neighborhood?
Lowland Way does not exist, but this kind of street is typical of south London and has the features of any affluent suburb. In British cities, there is a resurgence of street events and children’s activities; cars being cleared to let kids play out the old-fashioned way. I’ve seen quite strident parents leading these activities and they have a tendency to assume everyone else adores their children as much as they do. Such characters inspired Naomi Morgan and it was fun having Darren Booth resist her charms
What three things can you not stop talking about? It doesn’t have to be literary.
What a great question! I am currently avoiding politics and talking a lot about:
1) Tennis (Wimbledon just finished here in London).
2) My new puppy, who joins our family soon (he is a fox red Labrador and called Bertie after Bertie Wooster).
3) Holidays. After a crazy year, I’m finally taking a break, and can’t wait to swim in the sea in Western France, even if it is the Atlantic and a little cold!
Louise, it’s been a delight. Is there anything I should have asked, but may have forgotten?
The pleasure was mine! I’m working now on a story about two commuters whose lives are revealed to be dangerously linked after one of them disappears. It’s set near the river Thames, so a bit more central than the deep suburban noir of THOSE PEOPLE.
For more information, to connect with Louise Candlish via social media, or to purchase a copy of THOSE PEOPLE, please visit:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Louise Candlish attended University College London and worked as an editor in art publishing and as a copywriter before becoming a novelist. She lives with her husband and daughter.
Find out more online at www.louisecandlish.com, and on Facebook at LouiseCandlishAuthor, and on Twitter at @louise_candlish.
You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, via these websites:
- Facebook: LeslieLindsayWriter
- Twitter: @LeslieLindsay1
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @LeslieLindsay1
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[Cover and author image courtesy of Berkley and used with permission. Artistic photo of cover designed and photographed by L.Lindsay. Follow on Instagram for more like this].