There are two sets of reptiles in Sadie Jones' new novel The Snakes – the slithering kind and the human nature. Bea is a newlywed psychologist and daughter of a ruthless billionaire. She doesn't want anything with her father's money.
"There are very few people who could have so much wealth and not be destroyed by it – and Bea is one of them," Jones says.
Her husband Dan grew up a son of a son and cannot understand why his wife is so reluctant to take advantage of what wealth has to offer. Bea and Dan leave London to visit his brother, Alex, who runs a ramshackle hotel in France. When Bea and Alex's parents come up unexpectedly, "Hell goes loose."
Jones says working on this novel felt like writing an "anti-thriller" or an "anti-murder mystery".
"It's a book about chaos and the surprise horrible thing that happens that we can't predict …" says Jones. "A murder mystery or thriller is very tidy, and it's a book about things that happen out of the blue."
Jones & # 39; other novels include The Outcast, Small Wars, The Uninvited and Fallout. When she began writing The Snakes in 2016, she was in a "state of fear and shock" about the world. "I was worried that I should write too much a moral tale of good and evil," she says, "and then the rest of 2016 happened and I realized I could hardly write it big enough."
On Bea and Dan leaving London
They live what Bea thinks is a really good life, and Dan finds it very difficult. They are mortgaged up to the hilt in their very small apartment. And when they come to France … they find their brother [Alex]. The hotel – he is supposed to renovate it – and he is kind of being renovated himself. He is an abuser – and a kind of hopeless, sweet creature – and we don't think he has ever had any guests at the hotel, and it gradually comes out of what he is.
On Bea and Dan & # 39; s parents, Griff and Liv
[Griff] are quite a charming character … some people love to be with him .. and other people are absolutely horrible and shocked and disgusted by him. And he's just sure he's right on everything, and I think that level of money erodes people's empathy … if they get the rewards they need right about the rest of the world, and then they gradually lose humanity I think. …
Griff is that kind of obvious villain. He is brash and he is obvious and he does what he does – he is what you see is what you get. But Liv … she is like the cave to its fullest or the shadow of his spotlight. She really is just this moral vacuum.
On the cruel character of Russ
Russ is a sign that happens out of the blue. He is the only American in the book. Griff – people have often said, "Oh, he's a little Trumpian" – but I really saw Russ as my creeping Trumpian character because he just turns up and breaks all the rules and screws everything up. So it was a kind of joke to myself that I wrote – but there is nothing funny about him at all. He is a desperate dark creature.
If she always knew the end
Yes, I always know what my end will be. Getting there is another thing – but I knew what to do, and I knew the expectations I set up to break down to get there. … I didn't want chicken out of the end because I think the end really … defines a book and if it becomes a hard book and it will be true, then you can't mess around and just compromise.
Peter Breslow and Nicole Cohen produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Beth Novey adapted it to the Internet.