Twelve years earlier, Olivia and Joel Cameron invited the family to spend the weekend at their new country home. Olivia hoped to provide them all with a much-needed escape from their anxiety over the recession crippling the nation; instead, the visit ended in tragedy when Scott, Joel’s wild and outrageously sexy youngest brother, was found dead. The repercussions tore the family apart.
Now, Olivia’s sister Violet has persuaded her to host a reunion. She claims it’s time they finally put the past behind them and laid their ghosts to rest. However, some wounds run too deep to heal, and some secrets are too destructive to remain hidden. Still grieving for the man she loved, Violet is determined to uncover the truth behind his death—a truth she believes lies within her own family.
As the web of deceit and hostility begins to unravel, family ties are tested to the limit, and no one will emerge unscathed.
This is the exciting premise of Jessica Chamber's new book, Dark is the Sky. We interviewed Jessica to find out more about her new book!
Thanks for this interview, Jessica. What a great premise! Why was writing Dark is the Sky so important to you?
It was one of those ideas that just took hold, refusing to let go until I wrote it down. It all started with a single character, a handsome young man, wild and charming and a bit of a rogue. And he was dead. Well, I had to know more. How did he die? Was it suicide, murder, or simply a tragic accident? What part did his family play in his death? Once these questions began buzzing round my head, I had no choice but to unravel the answers!
What was the experience like writing Dark is the Sky?
Enormous fun, but also a real challenge juggling so many secrets and tangled relationships. I always like to have an outline before I begin writing, but Dark is the Sky needed a particularly detailed one. Without it, I would never have been able to keep track of which characters knew what about whom, or what revelations to disclose at any given point in the story. For me, though, challenging myself is what the writing process is all about.
Can you tell us more about one of your main characters, Olivia Cameron?
Olivia is the hostess of the Cameron reunion, the one who holds it all together in spite of her own heartbreak. Vivacious and outgoing, she would normally have looked forward to entertaining and embraced the opportunity to help heal the rift between her husband and his family. However, she has just discovered evidence of what she believes to be Joel’s infidelity. Utterly devastated, she doesn’t know whether she has the strength to see the weekend through to the end.
What are her strengths and what are her weaknesses?
She is incredibly warm-hearted and full of fun, and has never entirely lost the exuberance of her wild student days. After a few gin and tonics, she would be the first to get up and dance at a party, or to suggest a game of Twister. If she does have a fault, it’s that she is overprotective of her daughter to an extent that may not be entirely healthy. In helping to suppress Lottie’s memory of what happened twelve years ago, she has merely set her daughter up for more pain when she does finally remember the awful truth.
What about Joel Cameron? Can you tell us more about him?
Essentially a family man, Joel is both hard-working and seemingly reliable. He is perhaps a little too serious at times, but in their eighteen years together, Olivia has taught him to laugh at himself. Now his marriage could be on the rocks, and he is dreading the reunion even more than his wife. Most of all, he is dreading seeing his twin. He and Tim were once inseparable, the closest of friends. Then everything changed. A chasm opened up between them, and they have barely spoken in twelve years. Tim committed what Joel perceives to be the ultimate betrayal, and he can never forgive him.
Are there any supporting characters we need to know about?
Olivia and Joel’s seventeen-year-old daughter Lottie is central to the plot. Unlike her parents, she can’t wait for the reunion, having secretly met and fallen in love with her cousin Adam during a recent fieldtrip with their respective schools. Only one thing mars her happiness. Since her childhood, she has been haunted by a nightmare so terrible her conscious mind has blocked it out. Now the family has come back together, the dream is more vivid than ever, and could hold the key to what really happened twelve years earlier.
Can you open to page 25 and tell us what’s happening?
We’re in the present day. The Camerons have gathered together for the weekend at Olivia and Joel’s country home, where the tragedy took place twelve years before, and are getting ready for dinner. In their room, Joel’s twin brother Tim is agonizing to his beautiful wife Carla over why Joel despises him so much. What could he possibly have done to sever the bond that had once been so strong, and how can he ever put it right?
What about page 65?
We’ve jumped back in time twelve years to the days leading up to the tragedy. As in the present, the Camerons have gathered at Olivia and Joel’s, but in stark contrast, the atmosphere is happy and relaxed. Scott has just arrived, late as usual, and immediately sets about livening things up with cocktails and dancing. What no one suspects is that, beneath the rakish charm, Scott is harboring a secret that will turn the family upside-down, and that in less than forty-eight hours, he will be dead.
Now that Dark is the Sky has been published, what’s your next project?
I’m currently straying into the unknown and attempting my first young adult crime novel, a story of friendship, abuse and sexual identity. Think the grittiness of Melvin Burgess meets the powerful emotion of Jennifer Donnelly. With dark secrets, a twisted love triangle and a mystery to solve, it’s proving enormous fun, if harrowing in places.
Thanks for this wonderful interview, Jessica. Do you have anything more to add?
Only to say thank you so much for having me here today, and also to everyone who has been kind enough to buy my book. Your support means the world to me, and I only hope you have as much fun reading it as I did during the writing process.