Harriet Lane’s debut Alys, Always was a You Book Club choice, longlisted for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award and shortlisted for the Writers’ Guild Best Fiction Book award. Her second novel Her is out now, published by W&N (UK) and Little, Brown (US)
Her has been longlisted for the Encore Award for best second novel.
‘A new generation of female suspense novelists — writers like Megan Abbott, Tana French, Harriet Lane and Gillian Flynn — are redefining contemporary crime fiction with character-driven narratives that defy genre conventions. Their novels dig into social issues, feature complex women who aren’t purely victims or vixens, and create suspense with subtle psychological developments and shifts in relationships instead of procedural plot points and car chases.’ Alexandra Alter, New York Times
‘I wrote myself a purpose. I wrote myself back into the world. To find this fantastic new freedom has been an amazing surprise, one of the great true surprises of my adult life.’
For The Atlantic’s By Heart slot, Harriet spoke to Joe Fassler about Larkin, the relationship between fear and fiction, and the power of ambiguity in art. You can find the piece here
‘You won’t find any bodies down alleyways in Her or Alys, Always. You won’t find any bodies, come to that. No police tape strung across doors, no screwed-up detectives drinking bad coffee, no alibis that come unstuck at the eleventh hour. Just people living apparently unremarkable lives: going to the office or the supermarket, having people over for supper, taking the kids to the swings.
The thrill for me has been discovering an undercurrent of unease beneath all this: the potential for catastrophe in the domestic, the commonplace, the everyday.’
Her is a Waterstones Book Club pick for spring. You can find Harriet’s piece for the Waterstones blog here
‘I’m not at all interested in stitching it all up neatly for my readers. I like an engaged reader, and that’s the sort I write for: someone who wants the clues and wants to assemble their own answer.’ You can find Megan Labrise’s interview with Harriet here
‘Journalism is about conveying information clearly and efficiently; but when I’m writing fiction I love the fact that you can allow the story to appear very gradually, incrementally, maybe at the far edge of the reader’s vision. There’s something so luxurious about that. The lack of hurry. The playfulness of it. My books are nothing without an alert, observant reader.’
‘Eventually reality overshadows the horror, but I know the horror is there. And I’m sure that has something to do with the sort of books that I write. There’s the surface, and then there’s something underneath. And it does feel very real to me, the scariness.’
Harriet discusses Her with Kevin Nance here
These are the books Harriet enjoyed most this year. Bliss and Other Stories/The Garden Party and Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield, My Grandmothers and I by Diana Holman-Hunt, The Strange Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst by Nicholas Tomalin and Ron Hall, and The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (even better second time around, if such a thing is possible)
You can catch Harriet at an event organised by Chorleywood Bookshop on Thursday 15 January. More information here