The Uninvited

The Uninvited

The Uninvited

A seven-year-old girl puts a nail-gun to her grandmother's neck and fires. An isolated incident, say the experts. The experts are wrong. Across the world, children are killing their families. Is violence contagious?

As chilling murders by children grip the country, anthropologist Hesketh Lock has his own mystery to solve: a bizarre scandal in the Taiwan timber industry. Hesketh has never been good at relationships: Asperger's Syndrome has seen to that. But he does have a talent for spotting behavioural patterns, and an outsider's fascination with group dynamics.

Nothing obvious connects Hesketh's Southeast Asian case with the atrocities back home. Or with the increasingly odd behaviour of his beloved step-son, Freddy. But when Hesketh's Taiwan contact dies shockingly and more acts of sabotage and child violence sweep the globe, he is forced to acknowledge possibilities that defy the rational principles on which he has staked his life, his career and, most devastatingly of all, his role as a father.

Part psychological thriller, part dystopian nightmare, The Uninvited is a powerful and viscerally unsettling portrait of apocalypse in embryo.

Liz Jensen is the bestselling author of seven acclaimed novels, including the Guardian-shortlisted Ark Baby, War Crimes for the Home, The Ninth Life of Louis Drax and, most recently, The Rapture, shortlisted for the Brit Award and selected as a Channel 4 TV Book Club Best Read. She has been nominated three times for the Orange Prize for Fiction and her work has been published in more than twenty countries. Liz Jensen lives in Wimbledon, London.

The Uninvited
Author: Liz Jensen
ISBN: 9781408821152
Price: $29.99

Interview with Liz Jensen

Question: What inspired you to write The Uninvited?

Liz Jensen: I wanted to write something unsettling and creepy. Not a classic spooky-mansion, creaky-door, flickering-candle ghost story, but a digital-age, modern-gothic fable. I knew from the start that it had to be about kids. Because children - like dolls -fire peoples' imaginations in a weird way. They're little people. And little people can scare the crap out of you. I'd been thinking about the net, and viruses, and physical and mental contagion, which led me to the idea of an epidemic of violence in which pre-teens attack their parents for no reason. When I started writing I thought I was getting as far away from the haunted house as I could. It was only when I finished it that I realised that The Uninvited is set in a haunted house after all. The planet.

Question: Can you talk about the research that went into writing this book including research into Asperger's Syndrome?

Liz Jensen: There's no substitute for reading whole books for research purposes, and I always relish that. And then there's Google, which I think of as a kind of portal to Aladdin's cave, full of haphazard discoveries. Most of us know or have met at least one person on the autistic spectrum so writing a character with Asperger's was straightforward: I just wrote Hesketh the way I wanted him to be, using some of what I'd observed. But mainly I just made stuff up. I had a lot of fun.

Question: What was the best thing about creating the character of Hesketh Lock?

Liz Jensen: I enjoyed being inside his skin, and sharing into his obsessions - colour charts, origami, bird-calls, foreign languages. Hesketh is OCD - but he knows it. He's super-rational - which was why he is the perfect person to investigate apparently supernatural phenomena. He's incapable of believing in ghosts. He can't lie, either: he isn't built that way. He's insanely good-looking and likes sex but he's absolutely terrible with women. Hopeless, embarrassing. One weird surprise I've had since publication is that female readers are falling in love with him. WHAT? Hand on heart, that was no way part of the plan. If you meet this man in real life, avoid him!

Question: What do you enjoy most about writing psychological thrillers?

Liz Jensen: Surprising myself by coming up with stuff I didn't know was in me. The imagination is a muscle: use it or lose it. I like pushing an idea as far as I can by asking "what if?" again, and again, and again.

Question: Do you give yourself nightmares writing thrillers such as this?

Liz Jensen: More a rollercoaster-type thrill. My nightmare scenario is not being able to. I love what I do. Going to the precipice of what I can imagine and taking readers with me. Just don't fall in love with Hesketh, OK? You can't change him. Ever. He is what he is.

Interview by Brooke Hunter




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