I’m delighted to welcome Emma Kavanagh to Book’d Out today to celebrate the release of After We Fall. Emma Kavanagh was born and raised in South Wales. After graduating with a PhD in psychology from Cardiff University, she spent many years working as a police and military psychologist, training firearms officers, command staff, and military personnel throughout the UK and Europe. She started her business as a psychology consultant, specializing in human performance in extreme situations. She lives in South Wales with her husband and two young sons.
After We Fall is Emma’s third novel, following the publication of Falling and Hidden.
“A plane falls out of the sky. A woman is murdered. Four people all have something to hide…
For fans of Tana French and Alice LaPlante comes After We Fall, a debut psychological thriller by former police psychologist Emma Kavanagh that explores four lives shattered in the tense aftermath of a plane crash.
Shortly after takeoff, flight 2940 plummets to the snow-covered ground, breaking into two parts, the only survivors a handful of passengers and a flight attendant.Cecilia has packed up and left her family. Now she has survived a tragedy and sees no way out.
Tom has woken up to discover that his wife was on the plane and must break the news to their only son.
Jim is a retired police offer and worried father. His beloved daughter has disappeared, and he knows something is wrong.
Freya is struggling to cope with the loss of her father. But as she delves into his past, she may not like what she finds.
Four people, who have never met but are indelibly linked by these disasters, will be forced to reveal the closely guarded secrets that unlock the answers to their questions. But once the truth is exposed, it may cause even more destruction.
Told from various points of view, chapter by chapter, readers follow the investigation into the doomed plane alongside the investigation of a murder. Kavanagh deftly weaves together the stories of those who lost someone or something of themselves in one tragic incident, exploring how swiftly everything we know can come crashing down.”
Crime From The Inside Out – Characters In Crime
When I read, what interests me are the characters on the page. I want to see them come alive before me, watch them move through their world as whole, coherent individuals. When I write, I want the same thing. Whilst I write crime, it is rarely the crimes themselves that interest me, but rather the people involved in them.
Often what we concentrate on is the headlines – tragic air disaster; maniac kills eight; psychotic killer slays ten. That’s not surprising because our ability to digest information is finite and, particularly in a story in which there is a great deal of trauma, our capacity to process can be diminished. So we take what we read at its face value. The man was a monster. He was insane.
But behind that insanity, underneath the nightmare of what they have done, is a real person, someone who talked with friends, was held by parents, someone whose existence extends beyond the atrocity. People make decisions. Often people make shockingly bad decisions. But uniformly they have made decisions for a reason. They chose the courses they chose because in some way it made sense to them. What fascinates me is in digging beneath the skin and understanding what it was about these people that made them choose to kill.
An Excerpt: Chapter 8
Freya: Thursday, March 15, 10:19 p.m.
They had left the television on. Hadn’t been able to bring themselves to turn it off, not while helicopters circled above leaping flames, orange sprinkled with flashes of blue. Freya watched it, couldn’t seem to pull her eyes away from it. Without thinking, she sipped the tea, so sweet that her teeth stung, sinuses humming. It scalded her lips.
They were waiting. After all, what was there left to do but wait? Freya had called the airline, once, twice, her fingernails dredging into the phone as it chirped, engaged, again and again. Her mother was at the table, slumped into the chair like all the bones had simply vanished from her body, her head resting on her hands, a puddle of tears gathering on the tabletop beneath the shadow of her hair. Richard beside her, so close it seemed that he would crawl into her lap if only she would allow him. He hadn’t spoken. Not since the television flared to life, the screen lighting up with fire and snow. He just stared.
“It’s stopped snowing.” Freya’s grandmother was drying dishes, rubbing a tea towel around and around the outside of a mixing bowl that had once reached the stage of dry and was now on its way back to wet. Her brow furrowed, as if in concentration, eyes red-rimmed. “Well, for now. They say we’ll be like this for days yet. So much for spring. My flowers have had it.”
It could not have been more than moments after the world had changed that her grandparents arrived. She remembered that it was before her mother sank into the chair, a puppet whose strings had been cut. Before Richard began to cry. They had been hanging there, in that world between the past and the future, when the front door had swung open. And their breath had caught, and even though none of them said it, they were all thinking the same thing. That they were wrong and he was home.
Then her grandparents, sweeping in like a breath of Siberian air, the argument that they had been having about something she couldn’t possibly remember still fresh on their lips. Halting in the doorway, as if the fear hit them head on, buffeting them so that they had forgotten the latest affront to their patience, the snow and the long car ride. Their eyes looking toward the television. Faces changing with the knowing.
Freya’s grandfather sat beside her, hands folded. Ignoring his own mug of overstewed tea.
“You know they still haven’t gritted our road. I’m going to write a letter. Ridiculous. Someone’ll have to die…” Her grandmother stopped, stumbling on the word so that it came out as little more than a squeak. A deep breath. “…before they get around to it. Then they’ll be gritting it in the middle of August.” She pulled out a chair, tea towel clutched tight between her fingers. Her lips were trembling.
“Betty.” Her grandfather’s voice was thick, dense with years of smoking cigarettes. He’d given up, years ago now, but still when Freya thought of him, it was that smell that she thought of.
“This tea tastes like battery acid.”
Freya’s grandmother rolled her eyes, lips pursing like she wanted to say something but, just this once, had decided to refrain. Freya bit her own lip, pushing down a flush of anger. Wanted to tell them to shut up. Wanted to shout: Look at the television. Don’t you understand what’s happening here? But she drank her tea instead, watching her mother across the rim of her cup. She seemed to be slumping lower, sinking into the hard wooden chair. She hadn’t said anything, not a word since the television had flashed to life, changing their world.
“Mum? Why don’t you go on up to bed?” Freya leaned across the table, fingers stroking the soft skin on her mother’s arm. “Just for a little while. We’ll wake you when…we’ll wake you when we have some news.”
It seemed like her mother didn’t hear her at first, that her words couldn’t penetrate this hell into which she had descended. Then eventually she looked up. Freya started. Her mother had aged fifteen years. There were lines that Freya had never seen before; her gaze was dead, skin as white as the snow that lay thick on the ground beyond the windows. Her lips moved, a child testing her first words. Then she seemed to give up, speech more than she could possibly handle. Her eyes lowered and she shook her head.
“You know, you can’t be sure he was on that flight,” Freya’s grandmother offered. “I mean, they change the crews around all the time. You know what these airlines are like. He’s off one minute, he’s working the next. Always getting called away. He’ll have been on a different flight, I’m sure of it.” Looking down, studying the red checkered cloth. “I’m sure of it.” This last a whisper.
Freya looked down, studying her fingernails, chipped saffron paint coloring the edges, and tried her best not to think about yesterday, about her father standing in the snow, the tension that pulsed across his shoulders. The look when he saw her, desperation edging into fear.
“I’m telling you”—Freya’s grandmother had twisted the tea towel into a tight spiral—“he’ll be fine.”
“I’ll try the airline again.” Her grandfather’s chair scraped against the floor, nails down a chalkboard. “Someone must know.”
They watched him leave, closing the door softly behind him.
“It’s awful.” Her grandmother was watching the television, shaking her head. “Just awful. Those poor people.” As if she hadn’t realized that “those poor people” was them; as if it was just one more news cycle of murder and flooding and genocide. Tragic, but not really real.
Richard moved his hands so that they covered his ears. His hair had flopped forward over his eyes. The lights of the television danced on the loose curls, and his fingers dug in, tugging, again and again.
And in what seemed like seconds, the kitchen door was opening again, slowly this time, and Freya’s grandfather was there. Only he wasn’t looking at any of them and his steady fingers were trembling. Freya knew it without him saying it, could see it in his eyes, in the downturn of his lips. She reached out, taking tight hold of her baby brother’s hand.
“Grandpa?” Richard was looking at him, and it was like he was pleading. Say it isn’t so.
Then her grandfather reached out, took hold of her mother’s shoulder. And she was looking up at him, eyes pleading, large tears leaking from the corners of her eyes.
Freya’s grandfather shook his head. “I’m so sorry.” His voice cracked. “I’m so, so sorry.”
It seemed that time stopped in the kitchen. That they hung there, the world no longer spinning.
Then a sound, her mother, a low moan creeping from her, the sound of an animal caught in a trap. Her grandmother gasping, the news punching her in the stomach. Her grandfather had moved, had wrapped his arms around her mother’s shoulders as she shook. Richard, rearing back, pushing the chair away so that it tumbled, hitting the tiled floor with a clatter, shoving his way past his grandfather. And Freya frozen. Because this wasn’t real. None of this could possibly be real.
After We Fall is available to purchase from