JP Delaney’s not my real name. But it’s really no great mystery. I also write books in a completely different genre – well, two completely different genres. Publishers and booksellers think it confuses readers to stick the same name on books that are nothing like each other. Personally I disagree (no one expects Scorsese to change his name if he directs a movie without gangsters), but it’s received wisdom in this business now.
I’m a man. Well, you can see that. But for some reason I’ve always been drawn to writing female characters. People sometimes say ‘That must be hard to pull off,’ but most of my characters are quite like me, really – white, middle class, educated, grown up. Their gender is almost the only imaginative leap I have to make. I actually found writing the character of Tim Scott in THE PERFECT WIFE – a driven, obsessive founder of a tech start-up – far harder than writing his artistic surfer wife, Abbie.
The premise for THE PERFECT WIFE was gifted to me by a movie executive. I had a meeting with some movie producers about adapting another of my books. About a week later, one of them phoned me and told me about this idea that had come to him in a dream – he’d immediately woken up and scribbled it down on a pad beside his bed. Very generously, he allowed me to take the concept and develop it into my own characters and storyline. Needless to say, if it gets to be a movie, he’ll produce it.
The idea terrified me initially. I’ve always loved high-concept books, like THE LOVELY BONES or THE TIME TRAVELLER’S WIFE. But I didn’t think I could ever write one –
THE PERFECT WIFE was just going to be a short story initially. Then my agent read the synopsis and was so bowled over that he persuaded me to turn it into a novel. Although in some ways it’s a classic psychological thriller, it’s got a highly unusual aspect to it. (That’s all I’m saying.)
I change my mind a lot. OK, I’ll just give you a little tease. Tim Scott has a successful tech start-up specialising in cutting-edge AI – that is, artificial intelligence. When his beautiful, beloved artist wife Abbie goes missing and is presumed dead, he can’t get over his grief. He starts to wonder if the same algorithms that have made his business so successful might also be able to help him unravel the mystery of what happened to her. Needless to say, it isn’t quite that simple…
I try not to read reviews. There are so many websites now where people can leave comments – Goodreads, Netgalley, Amazon… Read them all, and you’d go mad. But in the days running up to publication, I can’t help taking a peek just to see what the consensus is. And the feeling of relief when I saw what people were saying on Goodreads was just enormous. (Most popular review: OOOOOOOOMMMMMMMGGGGGG! Aka I loved it! Aka I couldn't put it down! Aka Delaney's best book yet!)
I like to set myself a challenge. THE PERFECT WIFE is written in two unusual narrative voices – second person singular and first person plural (‘you’ and ‘we’). There’s actually a reason for that, which I can’t reveal without spoilers. But it all comes back to the plot…
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