Briefly tell us about your book
The Favour is a story about the darker side of female friendship, loyalty, and how far we’re willing to go to repay a debt.
Old friends Hannah and Quinn have grown apart over the years as their lives take them in opposite directions. Hannah cares for her three young children, her career on hold, while Quinn has a successful job in advertising, where she works hard and plays harder. But their friendship hangs together because of a terrible secret they share from their university days: a debt Hannah owes Quinn that they can never discuss.
Quinn has always kept her professional and personal lives separate, but these worlds collide when a colleague assaults her. As her life starts falling apart, Quinn decides to take revenge on her attacker and she expects her old friend Hannah to help. But when things begin to unravel, Hannah must decide how much she’s willing to risk in order to return the favour.
What inspired the idea behind this book?
The seed of the idea for The Favour was first planted in my mind while listening to author Sarah Henstra discussing her novel, The Red Word, about a group of feminists determined to expose rape culture in a university fraternity. My attention was drawn to one character in particular, who unapologetically pursued sexual pleasure and was judged for it by everyone, even her fellow feminists. It got me thinking about all the ways women are punished for not conforming to the narrow confines we’re born into, and it planted a question in my head: if such a woman was sexually assaulted, would she be viewed as less deserving of justice than other survivors?
Thus the character of Quinn was born – a gutsy, sweary, brash woman who loves sex and refuses to apologise for taking up space. And the only person who believes in her is her best friend, Hannah … which leads me to another central theme of my novel: friendship between women and all the joys and complexities that come with it.
It wasn’t until I entered my forties that I began to realise the lie society has sold us that the defining relationship of our lives should be romantic love. It places so much pressure on this one relationship that is already bombarded with so many expectations. In comparison, close friendship offers something pure, unthreatening, undemanding, and unrestrained by the complications of daily obligations, family, household, bills, etc.
I’ve only ever had a few close friendships, but it was in the midst of a pandemic that I found my twin soul. We’d known each other for a few years and had a lot in common, but it wasn’t until we emerged from lockdown and started hanging out regularly that we really found each other. It is a friendship like none I’ve experienced before, full of unselfconscious affection, honesty, support, love, in-jokes and an abundance of silliness. She is the first person I would turn to if anything went wrong. We would do anything for each other.
It was the importance of this friendship to me that inspired the relationship between Quinn and Hannah in The Favour. While the women in the book have a complex and occasionally toxic relationship due to a long unpaid debt, it is very much based on love and loyalty.
What are you hoping the reader will take away from reading your book?
I hope readers will consider the different standards that are applied to women’s ‘victimhood’ when it comes to consent, based on the way they present themselves or how they have conducted themselves in the past. I hope that they will begin to analyse how these standards are presented both in the media and in conversations with family and friends, and I hope it will make them challenge some of their own assumptions.
I also hope they come away with a greater appreciation for their friendships, and those people who are always there for them when they need them.
What is something that has influenced you as a writer?
I’ve always been interested in exploring the issues that affect women, whether that’s through relationships, career, parenthood, or simply moving through the world in a female body. I’m particularly interested in examining power and patriarchy and how they work together to keep women confined to this narrow and often contradictory cage of roles and ‘desired’ characteristics.
What’s the easiest and most difficult parts of your job as a writer?
The easiest part (well, mostly) is the writing. I always begin with an idea and themes I want to explore, then I start writing and let the characters lead me through the story, often without knowing how it’s going to end. There’s this headlong rush of euphoria in trusting to the process and constantly being surprised by the things that happen that I’d never planned.
The most difficult part for me is self-promotion – getting myself out there and talking about my books doesn’t come naturally to me, but I’m sure that’s not unusual for a writer!