LONG-LISTED FOR THE BRIDPORT PRIZE 2020
Bella is defective. You need to take her back.
Nine-year-old Bella D’accourt has always known she was different; she was born into a controversial ‘designer baby’ eugenics programme. Bella’s DNA has been designed with one purpose: beauty. Everyone she meets is enchanted by her looks. But being the object of so much attention has hampered her moral development and aroused the envy of her own mother. When Bella seriously injures another child, her mother takes her back to her creators and demands they ‘fix her’. And so Bella is brought up by scientists, along with other eugenics ‘subjects’. But when she becomes a mother herself, she breaks away and creates a new identity, to raise her daughter Ariana safely outside the laboratory walls.
With the laboratory’s most ruthless scientist hunting her down, Bella attempts to build a new life. But Ariana, a social media loving twelve-year-old, wants to assert her independence. As much as she’d like to be, Ariana is no normal twelve-year-old and her attempts to connect with the world around her have drastic consequences.
I am delighted to have J M Briscoe as a guest on my blog today as part of the Blog Tour for her book The Girl With The Green Eyes. I always wonder what influences authors to write and where the spark of an idea originates for their story. It is therefore a pleasure to hand over, without further ado, to J M Briscoe and her thoughts on this.
I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember, but the first time I finished a ‘novel’ was when I was 12. That was the when I discovered the heady wonder of creating a world, having the power to make people feel something, however fleeting. Since that time, I’ve always had some form of work-in-progress running in the background, veering between hobby and obsession depending on the time available.
The Girl with the Green Eyes began life as the final piece of coursework – a 10,000 word beginning of a novel – for my Creative Writing BA at university. I can’t remember the title, but it definitely featured a small girl who could fly, an aging, kindly scientist with a poetic name and a partiality for Nietzsche (philosophy references were very much the thing among CW undergrads circa 2008 as I seem to recall) and an enigmatic anti-heroine called Bella. Many years later I penned a substantial draft of the story and woefully misjudged the genre as Young Adult fantasy. The plot concentrated on what would become the Project C storyline – children who could do extraordinary things due to being brought up in an immersive setting of psychological suggestion. I sent the manuscript off to a couple of literary agents but never really felt the level of confidence needed to fight for it. Yet the story – its characters, the dramatic setting – never left me. I realised that it wasn’t a children’s novel – that the potential for darker themes, the possibility of a more scientific-based approach, the heavy questions I was posing about what it is to be human, to be vulnerable, the innateness of traits versus suggestion – was all better matched to an adult readership. Not to mention the undeniable fact that the most intriguing character was not the 11-year-old flying protagonist but her slightly-villainous, femme fatale mother, Bella. The child character evolved into Ariana and Nova. The kindly Dr Blake was developed into a pioneering researcher whose preoccupation with pushing boundaries nicely muddied his likeability. And Bella took centre-stage where, she would be the first to argue, she should have been all along.
I wrote Green Eyes in its most current form when I was pregnant with my third child and I think this is partly what inspired the science/genetics element of the story. People are obsessed with unborn children – with the mystery of what and how they’ll be. Pregnant women are given endless advice about how to influence certain things – ie eat plenty of vegetables and your child will grow up nibbling carrots over crisps; play them Mozart and they’ll have an aptitude for classical music. My husband and I, who had two girls already, heard a lot of comments about how we must be feeling/hoping about our baby’s sex. Something over which we, of course, had absolutely no control. It got me thinking: what about the babies whose parents do have some aspect of control over how they will be. Those potential children whose genes are scrutinised and screened at the earliest stages to ensure they have the strongest chance of life. What if it wasn’t just about removing possibilities but adding them as well? Offspring made to order? What sort of impact would knowing that is why you exist have on a person? What sort of impact could knowing that you were not what your parents ordered have? Enter Bella D’accourt, the girl with the green eyes: beautiful, talented, irresistible, dangerous and decidedly off-menu.
What a wonderful story The Girl With The Green Eyes sounds and that was such a fascinating insight into an author’s mind! Many thanks to J M Briscoe for being such an excellent guest today.
My thanks to Grace at Grace Pilkington Publicity for inviting me to take part in the Blog Tour for The Girl With The Green Eyes by J M Briscoe.
Why not take a trip around the rest of this incredible Blog Tour? Check out all these wonderful blogs to read more about The Girl With The Green Eyes.
The Girl with the Green Eyes, #1 of Take Her Backtrilogy, is published by Bad Press Ink on November 5, 2021.
FICTION|5 NOVEMBER 2021|BAD PRESS iNK|£8.99|978-1-8384577-2-3
The Girl with the Green Eyes is a debut title from J M Briscoe. Long-listed for the 2020 Bridport Prize, The Girl with the Green Eyes is the first book from trilogy Take Her Back.
J M Briscoe has a degree in English & Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London and has lived across the UK, working as a journalist with experience in newspapers, TV, radio and b2b trade magazines. She lives in Berkshire with her husband and three children and writes a parenting blog: www.jmbriscoe.com The Girl with the Green Eyes is her first novel.
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