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Araminta Hall on writing when angry

Araminta Hall on writing when angry

It’s never a good idea to do anything when angry. Except, right now, anger feels like a legitimate response to most things going on in the world. Women especially seem to be feeling it and I’m not sure sweetness and light is returning any time soon.

I write feminist thrillers, my subject matter often about how women are never listened to, how our experiences are ignored, our lives often curtailed, our freedoms impinged. I’ve gone on marches, read all the books, voted for the right people. I held my breath when #Metoo happened, wondering if things were actually about to change.

And in some ways things have changed. No longer can a predatory boss make advances without fear of a tribunal. If you force a woman sexually you probably will end up in prison. Coercive control is a recognized offence. Equal pay is at least discussed. Most companies are aware of how many women they employ and in what positions.

Except six years on, how much has really changed? Fundamentally our lives look very similar. Women are still snatched off badly lit streets, many have their lives oppressed by mental control, plenty are exploited sexually and domestically and around 180 are killed each year in the UK alone by a violent partner. We still take on the majority of the domestic labour, we still have to listen to sexist crap in the media and sometimes at home, we are still statistically paid less, there are very few of us sitting on boards or at the top of organisations.

Over the last couple of years I’ve felt a groundswell of anger starting to rise. A feeling that we’ve put up with so much for so long and honestly, enough is enough. I’ve even noticed the shift in reality TV. When programmes like Love Islandstarted it was like watching toxic masculinity parade across our screens. Now however, it’s more reminiscent of that nineties shout of girl power.

Because of all of this I knew, when I started writing One of the Good Guys, that I wanted to flip the narrative. I didn’t want small wins. The novel’s set up feels like a familiar thriller – a woman living on the edge of a cliff in a ramshackle cottage, a man who seems too good to be true moving in nearby and two young women going missing on a walk as they pass through the treacherous landscape. But once I’d done that I wanted to make sure that nothing felt familiar.

About a third of the book is written in the form of different types of media – social and traditional. I was very keen to do this because I think this is where misogyny is still allowed to fester. Women are still judged so harshly in these spheres, their lives like open wounds for anyone to pick through. Nowhere else do we see as clearly how high the bar is to be a good woman and how low it is to be a good man.

The women in my book have had enough. They’re neither passive nor victims. They’re sick of waiting for change and, instead, have decided to be the change. They’re as angry as the rest of us. But I think that’s okay because, just like the characters in my book, I used a controlled anger, one that’s been brewing for many years. I haven’t written a polemic, but instead a thrilling story that makes people think in its unexpectedness. And anger like that can surely only be one of the good motivations.

One of the Good Guys by Araminta Hall is published on 4 January by Macmillan

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