The real life inspirations behind Jo Furniss’s psychological thriller THE TRAILING SPOUSE @Jo_
Today, I’m handing over to fabulous author Jo Furniss, who’s going to tell you all about her new book, The Trailing Spouse…
Jo says: Hi everyone! I’m a writer of dark psychological thrillers, and I just released my second novel, THE TRAILING SPOUSE, which is set in Singapore.
I’m originally from England, but I spent the past 15 years living in Africa, Asia and Europe. This year, I relocated ‘home’ to the UK. Forever? Who knows…
After seven years in Singapore, I left a little piece of my heart in the Garden City. Little did I know as I wrote The Trailing Spouse that it would prove to be my swansong to this wonderful country. As you can see from the photos, it’s a place of contrasts: city vs jungle, old vs new, rich vs poor. And all squeezed into a tiny island measuring only 40 miles by 20 miles.
What else can I tell you about Singapore?
It’s hot hot hot. Most days reach 30C/90F degrees with super-high humidity. It plays havoc with your hair!
Singaporeans are CRAZY about food and you can get a Michelin-starred meal at a street stall for £2.
A view over the Central Business District of downtown Singapore
Have you heard about the new movie, based on the novel Crazy Rich Asians? Well, the title is pretty accurate – Singapore ranks alongside London, New York and Silicon Valley for having the highest rate of millionaires (and billionaires!) per capita.
But there’s another side to life in Singapore. Hence the gilded cage on my book cover…
The term ‘trailing spouse’ causes expat women like me to shudder. It’s a commonly-used phrase, but ‘trailing’ sounds so pathetic, doesn’t it? However, like the main character in The Trailing Spouse, for the seven years I lived in Singapore, I was classed as a ‘dependant’ – permitted to live in the country only because my husband had the all-important Work Permit. (Of course, I could have switched careers and got a corporate job – plenty of expat women do – but I had a writerly dream to pursue!)
Reflections at Kepple Bay – a crazy-looking building that inspired Amanda Bonham’s apartment, called The Attica
Happily, my ego is strong enough to withstand the indignity of being termed a ‘dependant’! Nevertheless, the status rankled and I became quite fascinated with the idea of power imbalance inside a marriage, and how much paranoia that could raise in a woman’s mind. The story of The Trailing Spouse is born from that insecurity and vulnerability.
There was a second aspect of Singapore life that fascinated me. Everyone in Singapore – or pretty much everyone – has a maid. Someone who lives and works in the home, like a cleaner, nanny and PA rolled into one. Unfortunately, not all of these migrant women are treated well. As soon as I started to write a novel set in Singapore, I knew I had to bring that inequality to the fore.
A classic ‘Black and White’ colonial house
Finally, the snapshots from my photo album, scattered through this post, are real places that feature in The Trailing Spouse. When I first moved to Singapore, I stayed for a few blissful weeks at a waterfront condo, which inspired my character’s luxurious apartment.
The black and white house – a military officer’s residence from the colonial era – is where she goes for a disastrous book club meeting. My good friend lived here and little did she know that I was writing her home into a book!
I hope you enjoyed this rough literary guide to Singapore. If you’d like to explore further, I popped a link to The Trailing Spouse and my own Facebook page below. I’d love to hear if you’ve visited the country or any other that has inspired you as much as Singapore inspired me!