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Ravena Guron on the inspiration behind Catch Your Death

Ravena Guron on the inspiration behind Catch Your Death

Catch Your Death is my second YA thriller, about three girls who are strangers to each other, but end up stranded at an isolated mansion during a heavy snowstorm. This mansion is home to the Vanforte family – and in the middle of dinner, Emily Vanforte, the head of the household, is murdered. There are only four suspects and the girls must figure out who the killer is – and also survive the night in a house with no power, no WiFi and no way out.

There are several things that inspired me to write Catch Your Death. One was wanting to continue to explore those themes of privilege and class that I’d started to examine in my debut, This Book Kills, but from a (slightly) older perspective. I had seen more realorld examples of some people getting the opportunity to “fail upwards” – given grace not afforded to everyone – and so, this time around, I wanted to put the power back into the hands of three girls who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Catch Your Death is, in some ways, a darker book than my debut – but I hope it maintains those same strands of lightness that made This Book Kills so fun to write, while introducing the reader to three very different main characters.

I was also inspired by some of the friendships I’ve made since leaving school – I wanted to create a bond between these three girls, these three strangers, who on the surface have nothing in common. At its heart, Catch Your Death is a book about how these characters come together to overcome a really tense, difficult situation, and develop a very unlikely friendship.

Finally, a big inspiration for me – and probably for many other murder-mystery writers – is Agatha Christie, who essentially invented a lot of the classic tropes of the mystery and thriller genres. Cards on the Table was a particular inspiration – it’s not one of Christie’s more well-known books, but she wrote it to prove that even with the simplest set-up possible, she could still befuddle the reader. In that book too, there are only four suspects in a locked room, and I remember reading it thinking there was no way I could be surprised – but wasn’t shocked to find out Christie had still managed to pull the rug out from under my feet. I wanted Catch Your Death to feel like one of those classic mysteries, taking all my favourite tropes and reinventing them in a new way.

Being introduced to Agatha Christie in my teens ignited a love of murder mysteries. As a reader, that sense that you’re trying to solve a puzzle the author has set out for you is addictive, and there is no other genre that keeps me turning the pages until I get to the final resolution.

I used to always read the endings of books first, wanting to check the main characters didn’t die before committing to the story (I would get very emotionally invested in the characters I read and always wanted happy endings for them). That’s how I initially started reading Agatha Christie books – I would go to the end of the book, see who the murderer was, and then read from the beginning, with a sense that I could have guessed who the murderer was even if I hadn’t read the ending first… And knowing deep down that wasn’t true.

Then one day, I decided to read a book the way Christie intended it to be read – from beginning to end– and that changed the way I read forever. Now I was going on a journey with her, properly examining characters, trying to deduce motive and what made these people tick – but still with the sense that everything would all be OK in the end. In a cosy crime, we’ll always find out who the killer is, which is what makes them feel like such comforting reads to me, even as they examine very dark themes. That’s ultimately what I want readers to feel when they read my books as well – that while I’ll take them on a journey exploring darkness (mixed in with humour!), they know there’s going to be light and hope at the end.

See Also

If I was going to suggest a few Agatha Christies to get started with, of course Cards on the Table would be one. Then I’d go with all her biggest books – they’re her most popular for a reason. And Then There Were None is one of the bestselling books of all time, and the ultimate locked-room murder mystery. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was, and still is, so incredibly influential within the murder-mystery genre. You can’t go wrong with Death on the Nile or Murder on the Orient Express.

And if there are any readers who, like me, read the endings of books first, maybe these books will change the way you read too!

Catch Your Death is published by Usborne on 7 December 2023

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