Ruby and her older sister Jinn live together on their own, just about making ends meet. Jinn is beautiful, with glittering blonde hair, and makes it her business to look after Ruby. They are horrified by, but try to ignore, the local newspaper stories of prostitutes who are murdered, their bodies eventually discovered underwater. Then the no-good Nathan Baird turns up on the scene - again - and Jinn starts to change. First Nathan moves in with Jinn and Ruby, making Ruby feel an outsider, and then Jinn and Nathan move out, leaving Ruby alone. Jinn no longer has time to look after Ruby. And it seems to Ruby that Jinn herself needs looking after. Her beautiful glittering hair starts to lose its shine. And then Jinn disappears. A deeply moving, chilling, and incredibly powerful thriller that celebrates the love two sisters have for each other and mourns the events beyond their control that will conspire to drive them apart.
- Did you ever resent your mother for leaving you to take care of Ruby?
It was kind of hard to resent Lara for anything, mostly because she was such a flake. I mean, she couldn’t be relied on for anything, really, so we soon learned not to try. Don’t get me wrong – I did love Lara a lot. But I think I always knew I was better at looking after Ruby than she was. Better at looking after myself, too. I suppose in some ways I like being in charge, being responsible. There are times when I think Lara was pretty selfish and stupid to get herself run over like that... well, OK. Yes, sometimes I do resent her. But I try not to.
- It is definitely natural to be attracted to a bad boy - and Nathan is pretty much the quintessential bad boy. Did that every stop you from wanting to be with him?
No. This sounds awful, but it never did. You’re right, bad boys are such a temptation. He was always just so different to everyone else, and I know it wasn’t usually in a good way, but he always seemed so lively and funny and... charming. When Nathan talks to you, it’s like you’re the only person in the universe. When he ignores you, the whole world seems off-kilter. Well, maybe I’m only describing my reactions there – but I know it isn’t just me. You ask me, Ruby kind of fancied him too. Nobody hates anybody as much as she hated Nathan without there being a spark of attraction, too.
- It seems like everyone in OoA (aside from Ruby, of course) goes by a nickname, the most prominent one being you. How did you go about choosing that as a nickname?
I didn’t really choose it – or only partly. It was what Ruby used to call me when she was tiny and couldn’t get her tongue round ‘Jacintha’. I think she’s forgotten that, but since I always liked it much better than my real name, I decided to use it all the time.
- How did you feel about the conflict between Alex Jerrold and Ruby? How much did she tell you?
She didn’t tell me much... but then she never tells anyone much, does she? I admit, I didn’t realise just how fond she was of him. But neither did she: that’s my theory. Looking back, I think they’d have made a good couple. I guess it’s too late for that, though. Maybe if Ruby had been able to say what she was thinking, it would all have gone differently.
- Did you ever see yourself being in the situation that you were by the second half of the book?
God, no. Never. I don’t think anyone does. I’d like to say I regretted it, but that would mean I regretted Nathan. And I don’t. Not for a minute.
THE OPPOSITE OF AMBER comes out on April 4th, 2011.