The Motive – Amanda Reynolds
Amanda Reynolds write about the inspiration for her second psychological thriller, LYING TO YOU, in our regular blog piece - The Motive...
Posted on March 24, 2018 in The Motive
Tags: Amanda Reynolds, Inspiration, Lying to You, psychological thriller
Long before I was a writer, I walked the corridors of a huge comprehensive school, a small Year Eleven boy at my side. And he was small, and very bemused; by the noise and the pushing and shoving but mostly by the cruel names he was called. We were both new to the school and navigating our way around not only the endless and indistinguishable corridors and stairways, but also an education system that often struggles to cater for those on the fringes. When we weren’t getting lost, or battling through lessons neither of us could fathom, we spent our time together in the exclusion unit, a place where those who couldn’t cope were banished, or in our case, somewhere we voluntarily chose as a retreat. It was the part of the school I liked best, a chance to chat one-to-one to students who were often interesting, engaging, bright individuals who had such challenging lives it was unsurprising their behaviour was at times unacceptable. For many of them, the fact they were even in school was a miracle.
Jess, my protagonist in Lying to You, is just such an outsider. From the notorious Tidy family, she is the youngest of four. Her twin brothers, Mick and Tony, are in and out of prison, and her mother is an alcoholic. As a Tidy, is would seem her fate is already sealed, the mention of her surname enough to tarnish her reputation, although Jess does little to help. Provocative, difficult, flirtatious, and a known trouble-maker, she’s already made a wholly false allegation against another teacher when she’s assigned a mentor, Mark Winter. Her last hope.
Everyone knows of a girl like Jess Tidy. Maybe you tried to help her, or you worried she might lead your child astray, an unwise friendship discouraged. Perhaps you were the teacher whose classes were disrupted every day, or the teacher who made a difference.
Jess, like many of the occupants of the exclusion unit, is a product of her dysfunctional home life, the chances afforded to other students denied her. When she tries to explain to Mark why she hasn’t completed the work he set, he realises that for Jess each day is a struggle, her unwise decisions born of necessity, an armour she wraps herself in to keep out the horrors that wait at home.
I often think about those students I met in the exclusion unit and wonder what’s happened to them, particularly the small boy who gave me his trust in those early days and cried when I told him I was leaving so I could maybe, one day, write this book.