Intrusion blog tour: Literary influences by author @McCluskeyMary #amwriting


Intrusion by Mary McCluskey

A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives.

Kat and Scott Hamilton are dealing with the hardest of losses: the death of their only child. While Scott throws himself back into his law practice in Los Angeles, Kat is hesitant to rejoin the workplace and instead spends her days shell-shocked and confused, unable to focus.

When an unwelcome face from Kat’s past in England emerges―the beautiful and imposing Sarah Cherrington―Kat’s marriage is thrown into a tailspin. Now wealthy beyond anything she could have imagined as a girl, Sarah appears to have everything she could need or want. But Sarah has an agenda and she wants one more thing. Soon Kat and Scott are caught up in her devious games and power plays.

Against the backdrops of Southern California and Sussex, in spare and haunting prose, Mary McCluskey propels this domestic drama to its chilling conclusion.

Guest Post:

What are your literary influences and what have they taught you as a writer? 

I am interpreting influences here as meaning writers I love. I can’t say that I write like them – though oh, I wish I could – but for me: Joan Didion, Margaret Atwood and Amy Hempel. They’re very different stylists but they do have one thing in common: clarity. No curlicues or flounces for these writers. 

Didion first: I came to Joan Didion through her essays and they are brilliant- my own read and re-read essay collection is The White Album - but her novels are excellent, too. Play it as it Lays is one of my all time favourite reads. 

The lesson from Didion: cut, cut, edit, delete. Write with a razor. Didion’s writing shows that clarity does not mean losing depth, that dialogue says more in fewer words, that a lot happens in silences. 

Margaret Atwood – such story telling. What other writer can tell great stories in such a variety of different narrative forms? From the incisive character studies and psychological depth of Cat’s Eye, the wisdom of the amazingly prescient The Handmaids Tale, to the breathtaking imagination of her science fiction. I’m in awe of the range of this writer. 

A lesson learned from Atwood – take chances. Tell a story in a different way, play with it, have fun with it. Atwood’s joy in the process of writing (I hope this is true) comes through in everything she writes. 

Amy Hempel: When I was struggling with my own short stories I read Amy Hempel’s "In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried" and almost gave up. I thought it the perfect short story. There are a number of excellent short story writers publishing today– not forgetting Alice Munro, of course – but Hempel has the edge for me. The lesson learnt? Understand your characters, care about them. An unconventional narrative and an offbeat storyline can work if the characters are believable. 

All three of these writers have given me great pleasure over the years. I’m grateful to them!

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