Nailing Jess by Triona Scully. Advance Reader Copy (eARC) from the author included. No affiliate links used. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
How different would things be if Adam, not Eve, had taken the first bite? This is the premise of Triona Scully’s debut novel Nailing Jess; it’s a matriarchy where the gender roles are reversed.
DCI Jane Wayne has been reprimanded, again, for her inappropriate behaviour toward her colleagues. As result she has been replaced as the lead on a serial killer case by DI Ben Campbell. Wayne does not take this well. Demotion is one thing but taking orders from a man, and an ugly one at that, is an entirely different matter.
As a fan of crime fiction, I’ve given more than a little thought to how women are, more often than not, depicted within the genre. Nailing Jess shines a light on this by asking the reader to it view from a different perspective. If things are unsettling and jarring when they happen to men, why do we barely bat an eyelid when they happen to women? It’s an interesting experiment, well written and full of humour.
How would you describe Nailing Jess in five words?
Thought provoking. Tongue twisting. Fun.
Nailing Jess is a crime novel with a twist and I don’t mean that in the usual plot twist way. It is set in a matriarchal society, where women are the dominant gender. Why did you decide that crime fiction was the genre for your exploration of gender roles?
I love crime fiction. I think it taps into something deep in the human psyche, a need to understand violence, a way to process fear, a desire for retribution. All too often, women get a raw deal in crime fiction. As they do in real life crime, but for different reasons. In fiction, their victimhood is compounded by the hyper sexualisation of their lives and deaths. I wanted to explore that. I also wanted a bona fide easy to identify with heroine, and someone who catches a serial killer fitted that bill.
In Nailing Jess the fight for men’s equality is called meninism. It is in no way connected to the real world version of meninism, which started out a semi satirical take on modern feminism before being hijacked by men’s rights activists who blame women and feminism for anything and everything. Did this make using meninism a difficult choice or was it something you were certain about early on?
Full disclosure Paula, I had no idea about the origins of menimism, I’ve been googling it all day! From what I read they were initially semi satirical, and in fact a group of men who supported feminism, but still felt the need to re-name it. Isn’t that so like the boys? To be honest, I’ve never trusted male feminist types. In my experience when a man says ‘I am a feminist’ what he usually means is ‘I hate my Mother.’ There’s many a naïve sister that’s been burned by that sales pitch. I was aware of modern menimism. It’s a fascinating concept. A movement that wants even more rights for men. It’s mind blowing to think of the level of entitlement that fuels such agendas. And yet, as absurd as it is, Men’s Right’s Activism is a growing ideology with spheres of influence, most especially, and worryingly in areas like child protection. Can you imagine any group less suited to the task of safe-guarding kids than M.R.A.’s? At least in Nailing Jess, the men have something to complain about. If a word like ‘menimist’ has to exist then at least it can exist in a context where it serves a purpose.
Writing is a solitary process. Do you have a routine so that you don’t get completely lost in the world(s) you’re creating?
I try to be disciplined. It does not come easy. When I’m working on a project, I try to do a minimum of three hours a day, a maximum of four, to avoid burn-out. Occasionally, I get lost in the process, but mostly if I write for too long, or when I’m tired ‘coz I just want to get it down, the quality diminishes.
I love hearing what other people are passionate about reading, even if they can’t narrow it down to a favourite. Which book do you wish you thrust into the arms of strangers and demand they read it immediately?
I think every woman should read SCUM by Valerie Solanas. It’s a stream of feminist consciousness like no other. It’s angry and humorous in equal measure. It’s a damning indictment of a misogynist society and a glorious celebration of the groovieness of women.
Irish born Triona Scully lives in Edinburgh with her son Mikey. Nailing Jess, her first novel, is published by Cranachan Publishing and is available in ebook and paperback format. Triona blogs at trionascully.com and you can follower on Twitter at @TScullyWriter