Publication: 3rd October 2019 (eBook); 12th December 2019 (paperback) – One More Chapter
Whatever you do, don’t open the door…
By day, Ellie Power has a normal life. She has a stable home, a loving boyfriend, a future.
But at night, she suffers from a sleep disorder. She becomes angry, unpredictable, violent. Her mother locks Ellie in her bedroom every night, to keep them both safe.
Then one morning, Ellie wakes up, horrified to find the lock on her bedroom door smashed from the inside. She is covered in injuries, unable to remember anything about the night before.
And her boyfriend Matt is nowhere to be found…
What surprised me most about Lock Me In is that it’s a debut. I couldn’t believe that this twisty and dark thriller was the first novel of the author that kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading.
The protagonist of the novel is Ellie, a nineteen-year-old girl with a huge secret. She suffers from a serious dissociative condition in which her alter ego Siggy makes bad things that Ellie can’t never remember. For this reason, her mother locks her in her room every night and she can’t lead a normal life. The only people to know about her condition are her mother Christine, her boyfriend Matt and Ben Mae, a police detective who, one day, is called to investigate Matt’s disappearance. However, this is not Ben and Ellie’s first meeting…
What I loved most about this novel is that nothing is what it seems and I was continuously taken by surprise by the many twists and revelations that the author put in when you less expected it. Also, I loved the unreliability of the protagonist. Are Ellie’s dreams simple nightmares or are they memories of a past she has blocked out? While the plot focuses on the mystery of Ellie, Ben Mae’s personal life also takes stage centre and makes a compelling and thought-provoking storyline.
If Kate Simants managed to create such an elaborate and unique plot for her first novel, I can’t wait to see what she has planned next. A must-read!
A huge thank you to One More Chapter for providing me with a copy of this novel.
Kate Simants was so nice to answer a few questions about her debut novel Lock Me In and herself…
- Hi Kate. Tell us about your new novel, Lock Me In.
It’s about a young woman, Ellie, who suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder. Sometimes, at night, she is taken over by a different personality, who she and her mother refer to as Siggy. Siggy is violent and aggressive, and as a result, Ellie’s mother locks Ellie into her bedroom every night to keep them both safe. But one morning Ellie wakes up to find that the lock is broken, and she is covered in mud and injuries that she can’t explain or remember sustaining. And her boyfriend has disappeared.
- What inspired you to write this novel?
That’s actually a tougher question that it seems – the book has gone through so many incarnations to get to the version that’s going to be in readers’ hands! I think I have an interest in the intense relationship some girls and women have with their mothers, so part of it was definitely formed from that: what if you still relied on your mother for safety into adulthood. But it’s also a lot about identity, and how our true identity can be so heavily shaped by the people around us.
- Did you do any specific research for the book?
Yes, loads. I have a great fear of appropriation – taking someone else’s experience and misrepresenting it in some way, or disrespecting it. So I read a huge amount about DID and the other subjects in the book (some of which I can’t mention for spoiler reasons!) before I felt qualified to reference them.
- Was there a particular part of the novel that was really difficult to write for you?
That’s a great question – the answer is yes, there is a chapter towards the end from Ellie’s mother’s point of view that found enormously emotional. I actually wrote this chapter right at the start of the process, and then trained my sights on getting to that scene, if that makes sense. But putting that character through the raw trauma of what happened was really hard to do.
- Can you describe Lock Me In in 3 adjectives?
Dark, twisty, emotional
- How long did it take to write the novel and how many drafts did you write?
Honestly, it’s so hard to answer this: I started it about 5 years ago but in that time I’ve also had small children to bring up almost full-time, plus jobs, plus doing an MA, so it’s not like it was five solid years. In terms of drafts: maybe five or six major drafts. I tell myself I’m a planner, but then I go off on a tangent. There were several significant thematic changes between these versions, and the plot and motivations within have changed enormously. I don’t make things easy for myself!
- What does your average writing day look like?
When it’s going well, I get up at 5.30 or 6 and get going before the kids are up. But beyond that I scrabble around for whatever time I can get hold of, in between work and childcare, just like any working mum. I struggle to concentrate enough to get much done when there’s anything else going on, which contributes to me being a little slow I think!
- Who are some of your own favorite authors at the moment?
I’ve been going after a lot of non-fiction recently for some reason but memorable novels I’ve read in the last few month are Clare Empson’s (Him and Mine – she’s a huge talent), Big Sky by Kate Atkinson, and I’ve been gobbling up Belinda Bauer’s back catalogue! I love Tana French too, and Adrian McKinty’s Sean Duffy novels.
- When did you decide to write and what prompted you to start?
I think I’d always been a bit of a storyteller but I really only started properly about 12 years ago when I was disillusioned with job in TV. I was talking to a dear friend who’d recently retrained in psychology and she said ‘why don’t you just write?’. Somehow, despite being a prolific reader, it hadn’t actually occurred to me before that.
- Can you tell us a bit about your plans for the future?
My second novel, The Knocks, won the Bath Novel Award last week and is out on submission to publishers at the moment, so hopefully someone will pick that up. The book I’m working on now though is a blend of psychological thriller elements and Elizabethan themes, I’m having a lot of fun getting stuck in to it! Watch this space…
Kate Simants was born in Devon. After studying English at university, she worked in TV production in London for ten years, specialising in undercover investigations (which was much less glamorous than it sounds), then moved from her little boat on the Thames to a bigger boat on the Avon to start a family and concentrate on writing. She holds two MAs in creative writing from Brunel University and the University of East Anglia, and has been shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger and the Bath Novel Award, and won the UEA Literary Festival Prize. Kate is now a land-lubber and lives between Bristol and Bath with her family and demented cat. She is a committed faddist, and her current interests include roller-skating, macrame, and Persian cookery. To get in touch, tweet her at @katesboat or visit her website at katesimants.co.uk.