Today it’s my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Bridal Party by J. G. Murray. It’s a psychological thriller with an unwilling cast of not so innocent characters. Don’t miss the fantastic Q&A with the author!
About the Author
J G Murray grew up in Cornwall and, after a spell selling chocolates in Brussels, qualified as an English teacher. Murray now lives, teaches and writes in London.
About the book
Sometimes friendship can be murder…
It’s the weekend of Clarisse’s bridal party, a trip the girls have all been looking forward to. Then, on the day of their flight, Tamsyn, the maid of honour, suddenly backs out. Upset and confused, they try to make the most of the stunning, isolated seaside house they find themselves in.
But, there is a surprise in store – Tamsyn has organised a murder mystery, a sinister game in which they must discover a killer in their midst. As tensions quickly boil over, it becomes clear to them all that there are some secrets that won’t stay buried…
Before we get down to business (i.e. talking about your book) I would like to ask a set of questions I call ‘Breaking the Ice.’
The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms would like to know) The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany. I’m interested in looking back and seeing how genres develop over time, and this is a milestone in the development of fantasy, bridging the gap between Victorian fairy tales and Tolkienesque epics.
The last movie you watched, which you felt left a mark (in your heart, soul, wallet…you name it)? I recently rewatched Beast, and absolutely love it. It was a big influence on The Bridal Party, so it’s close to my heart!
Writers or books who have inspired you to put pen to paper? An impossible question! I’ll go for Robin Jarvis: as a child I was completely entranced by the way he could write fantastic and labyrinthine stories, and wed them to a particular locale. Daphne Du Maurier was also huge for me, largely for the same reason. Once I saw that stories could happen in places I knew, the idea of becoming a writer seemed much more achievable.
Which famous person (dead, alive, barely kicking) would you most like to meet? I would love to have met Ursula K LeGuin. She’s an absolute hero of mine- a brilliant champion of writing, of genres and of diversity.
A famous declutterer a la Marie Kondo has decided to help you organise your home – you have to get rid of all but three of your books (the ones you have written yourself are exempt) which three would you pick and why? I’ll pick a book for three different stages in my life: My falling-in-love-with-reading phase: The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien, My pretentious-teenager phase: To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, My thriller phase: The City and the City by China Mieville
All of the above questions are actually a pretty elaborate pysch evaluation disguised as random questions. Have no fear here come the real ones. Let’s talk about The Bridal Party.
I have to admit The Bridal Party wasn’t what I was expecting. It went in a completely different direction, an excellent creepy one I might add.
Tell us all a little bit about your inspiration for The Bridal Party and what made you take the story in such a tense and scary direction? I have a group of friends who like to rent out houses in remote locations for a weekends and play Murder Mysteries. We write them ourselves now, which adds to the fun.
While I was playing one of these Mysteries, when I was trying to suss out the murderer, I wondered: “how awkward would this be if one of us had actually committed murder!”
And so it went from there. This very quickly led to the idea that someone could organise a Murder Mystery to reveal the secrets of a group of friends. As for making it scary–the idea of anyone conducting such an elaborate plan meant that they had to be a pretty nasty and sinister character! So the plot had to become quite twisted as a result.
I particularly enjoyed the way you combined folklore and the surroundings to create a setting of fear and paranoia. Was this based on something specific? I love folklore; I research it in my spare time. Anytime I write a story, I look up local superstitions and history as I find that it helps me grasp the feel of the landscape. I thought that these elements could make the story more potent, with some bizarre and spooky imagery that you don’t get to see in psychological thrillers too often!
I had to make up a history for the house, but all the folklore of Jersey comes from research. I tried to sneak in as much as I could!
You explore the boundaries of friendship and forgiveness in your story. Do you think a solid friendship can survive when a partner, boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse is deemed unsuitable by the friendship group? Or should romantic relationships be out of bounds for friends? It’s a tricky question. One of the things that we don’t often talk about is the fact that good friendship groups evolve and shift to accommodate changes in people’s lives. Things might seem the same, but we’re constantly re-evaluating the dynamics of any given group and adjusting accordingly- often without even realising that we’ve done it.
The unsuitable romantic partner is definitely one of those obstacles. It can absolutely threaten the dynamics of a friendship group, especially if the partner is jealous, overbearing and possessive. I think that friendships can survive in such circumstances- but only if people act in a decent and conscientious way. People have to be willing to make the shifts and adjustments, while also ensuring that the bond between the friends is preserved.
I’ve found that the person who is romantically involved will sense the tension, and separates her love and social lives as much as possible. But again, it comes back down to the partner, and what they will allow…
Nada is a character who will probably divide opinions, because the overall perception and description is of a young woman with difficulty standing up for herself. How important was it to you to create a group and show the lack of equality that often exists in friendship groups, especially in women only groups? There’s always a complicated power dynamic at play within friendships. And that’s definitely something I wanted to explore within my story; how toxic and abusive friendships could get.
As for Nada, I felt like the story needed someone who had significant esteem issues; someone who was so invested in her friendships that she’d put up with anything. Anyone with a clearer head would have gotten out of her situation immediately!
I know what you mean about how she will divide opinions, though. I got frustrated with her at times for being so deferential. But, to be honest, that’s not a million miles from my own character: I hate conflict, and am far too eager to please. So I empathised with her throughout.
I am really curious whether you knew where the story was going to end up or did the twist come to you as the story evolved? I knew it! I didn’t know all the details, of course– but I would have panicked if I wasn’t writing towards something definite and planned.
What’s next for J.G. Murray? Are you working on your next book already? Yes! It’s another thriller, also set in one location. I love the Agatha Christie-esque puzzles and the taut, bare-bones narrative that arise out of keeping people in one location.
I won’t be going on any Bridal Parties if you are the one planning them. Just Saying. Thank you for answering my questions, even the odd ones. Oh and kudos to you for the unexpected ending of The Bridal Party! Thank you so much for having me on your blog! I’m going on my own stag do in a few weeks, and I’ve got no idea what is going to happen– I’m slightly concerned that my best man might take inspiration from the novel…
If you’re expecting a fun filled weekend trip of merry women, cheeky drinks and plenty of laughter, well you’ve come to the wrong place. This bridal party brings everything but the expected fun, games and banter with it. Instead this hen party finds itself in the middle of a game of revenge. A spiteful, scary game of cat and mouse in an isolated area cut off from the phones, transport, the internet and any help at all.
The bride’s best friend is a no show, and yet she is the one who planned the whole murder mystery evening. The bride is annoyed, has a short temper and is doing her best interpretation of a bridezilla. She is concerned that her dreams won’t come true, especially after her last fiancé just up and left in the middle of the night. Not that any of her friends were exactly upset to see the back of him.
I think the character of Nada may divide opinions. She has settled into the stereotype of being the doormat, the less privileged and less educated one in the group. The person the others tend to make fun of, sneer at and take for granted. Makes you wonder why she is there at all.
The author takes inspiration from folklore, history and infuses the story with a creepy Bates motel and gothic vibe. Balloons and cocktails mixed with court jesters and masked maniacs. What’s not to enjoy?
Kudos to Murray for the perfect ending to this twisted piece of fiction. No prisoners are taken and there is no room for any mercy. It’s a psychological thriller with an unwilling cast of not so innocent characters.
Buy The Bridal Party at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Corvus; pub date 7 Mar. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.