My Inspiration: Nasheema Lennon – The Engagement | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Nasheema Lennon is a writer of Mauritian heritage who studied psychology and criminology at university before working in the prison service, where she facilitated cognitive behavioural therapy programmes. Now a primary school teacher, Nasheema’s first novel, The Engagement, was shortlisted for the Owned Voices Novel Award 2022.

On Saturday 14th October, at Durham Book Festival, Nasheema, will be joined by Ruth Ware and Trevor Wood for Whose Crime Is It Anyway?, a panel discussion chaired by Dr Jacky Collins, where the writers will discuss their books and careers.

Here, Nasheema tells us what inspired her book…

I have always been deeply fascinated by both psychology and all things crime-related. Some of my earlier inspirations were novels such as Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and the TV series Cracker, starring Robbie Coltrane. My interest grew and eventually led me into studying psychology and criminology at university before joining the prison service.

Many years (and a career change) later, I wrote my debut psychological thriller, The Engagement. When Victoria’s best friend Gwen announces her engagement to Michael, Victoria is forced to address her fears that Michael is not the charming man that everyone else seems to think he is. Only she seems to notice he has a much darker side so she feels the pressure to find evidence to help convince Gwen to see it too. 

The moment that initially sparked the idea for this novel was during a conversation I was having with a friend, who was delving into the world of online dating for the first time. She was learning that it seemed alarmingly easy for people to hide behind online profiles and whatever truths they chose to portray. It dawned on me how many dating and relationship horror stories there are, especially where romantic partners have withheld something important or simply weren’t the people they had pretended to be at the start of the relationship. That frightening question, of ‘How well do you really know the people in your life?’ is a huge theme in The Engagement.    

Not only must Victoria race against time to delve into Michael’s secrets before the wedding, but she soon starts to receive sinister visits and gifts.  I love books and movies that make you jump or want to hide behind a cushion but actually, it’s the more subtle scares that I find truly linger in my memory. You by Caroline Kepnes really inspired me in showing just how frightening it is for someone to invade your privacy. I find the idea of someone being in your home without you knowing or moving around you without being noticed terrifying! I wanted to capture a little of that with Victoria’s mysterious visits. Something to make my reader double check their front door is locked before they go to bed!

Above all, I want my debut to be a small slice of escapism. Whether it’s getting lost in the suspense or being carried away with talk of glamourous venues, flowers and veils, I hope whoever reads it is able to take a break from their everyday life, even if for just a few pages at a time. 


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