Getting Away With It

Getting Away With It

Headline Review
October 28, 2010 (Hardcover)
March 17, 2011 (Paperback)

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Wherever there’s trouble, there’s Liza Haven.

After years of misbehaving in the quaint country village where she grew up with her identical twin sister Lee, Liza escaped to LA for a thrilling life as a stunt woman. But when her job brings her a little too close to death for comfort, Liza has to go back to the one place she couldn’t wait to get away from—home.

Only, when Liza arrives she discovers that her seemingly perfect sister has run off, leaving behind their difficult, ailing mother, a family ice-cream business that’s frozen in time and a dangerously attractive boyfriend. And what’s more, everyone thinks Liza is Lee. This is Liza’s one chance to see how it feels to be the good twin. She might be getting away with it, but there’s no getting away from facing up to who she really is…

A hilarious and heartbreaking story about running away and finding your way home again.

Download a first-chapter excerpt from Bookdiva.co.uk here.

Read an exclusive extra chapter here.

Behind the Scenes of Julie Cohen's Getting Away With It from Bookhugger on Vimeo.

More About Getting Away With It

GETTING AWAY WITH IT is my first "big" book, my first stand-alone book that's not part of a line. My first book that's meant to be just from me. It is a big book—it's over 500 pages, for a start—and it deals with some big issues. Identity. Alzheimer's Disease. Loss. History. Forgiveness. Responsibility. And how to make beetroot and horseradish ice cream.

It took me about a year, more or less, to write, and involved research trips all around Wiltshire, where it's set. I also toured an ice cream factory, talked to stunt women, interviewed twins and trespassed in a crop circle. I ate far too much of this stuff and I might have watched far too much of this. The research was great.

How was it to write? Well, to be brutally honest—I was shit scared. In a very short time, I'd gone from writing 60,000-word romance novels with a tight focus on one relationship, to writing a 150,000-word women's fiction novel about several relationships and plot lines, not to mention an entire town as a character. I absolutely love a challenge, but this was a really, really big challenge.

Talking to stunt women put it in perspective. These women risk their life on a daily basis. On the other hand, what was I doing? Sitting in my chair, drinking tea, and writing a book. I wasn't going to break my head, or even my arm (though I did give myself quite a severe case of Repetitive Strain Injury).

Also, I learned what it means to have true nerve. Nerve isn't about being reckless; it's about being knowledgeable. These stunt women don't just suddenly one day get in front of a camera and jump off a horse. They train for years. They practise and they learn and they hurt themselves and they succeed and they try again. They push themselves harder, and gain more knowledge and understanding and skill, until they get it right.

Writing this book was like that, though obviously involving less actual sweat and explosions. It took lots of practice and learning and failing and trying again. Writing and revising and cursing and cheering. And I learned that it's good to be scared. It means you're operating on the edge of what you can do.

Liza, the heroine of GETTING AWAY WITH IT, and Lee, her perfect twin sister, have to learn about being scared, too. Liza has spent so long taking risks that she's deadened herself to the fear, the good fear, that helps keep you learning and helps keep you alive. Her twin sister Lee, on the other hand, is trapped by fear, unable to move without making a radical, frightening change. It probably wasn't a coincidence that my two main sisters both learned the same lesson I was learning, huh?

I'm proud of this book—not just because there are bits in it that surprised me, that came out right the first time and made me laugh aloud or cry with discovery. I'm mostly proud of the bits that didn't come out right the first time. Because I had to work so hard to produce it, and it nearly even says what I wanted it to.

Other Covers

Published in Germany by Diana Verlag as MIT DEN AUGEN MEINER SCHWESTER and in Holland by De Kern as DE STUNT VAN HAAR LEVEN.

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“Wonderfully escapist…intriguing, thought-provoking and sexy.” -Katie Fforde

“This is a lovely story, so intriguing and well told. I thought the twins were fascinating and I enjoyed every single page. More please, Julie!” -Carmen Reid

“Warm, fun and totally addictive. I adored it!” -Miranda Dickinson

“This is a witty, warm and wonderful tale of love and redemption and sibling jealousy and underpinning it all is a rare generosity of spirit.” -Debby Holt



Excerpt

“Slower, Liza,” said Hogan through the walkie-talkie.

The Ferrari arched gracefully around the curves. Below me, the shadows were disappearing from the desert. I was mid-descent, but still high enough so that it felt as if I pressed the throttle a little harder, I could fly. Right up into the lightening sky, among the effortless clouds.

“Happy birthday to me,” I said, my voice lost in the thunder of the engine, and I edged it faster. The car growled in appreciation. The road straightened for a short stretch, dipping downward, and I used the straight to pick up some more speed.

“Slow down, Liza,” crackled Hogan. “Now.”

“Yeah, right,” I said, though he wouldn’t be able to hear me.

A camera and crew perched near the guard rail on the bend ahead, waiting to pick up the wide shot as I passed. I’d cut it fine, kick up some gravel for them. I smiled, reached for the handbrake for the turn, and it was at that exact moment that I realised I was going faster than I’d thought.

“Shit,” I muttered, maybe I yelled it, I don’t know because the car was so loud, and I turned the wheel and engaged the handbrake and the car began its sideways slide, gravel spitting exactly as I wanted it to, all I had to do was power out and away, it would be fine. Fine.

Shit.

At times like these, everything slows. I saw Rory, that was the cameraman’s name though I didn’t know I’d known it, and Wanda beside him wound in a yellow scarf. Rory’s face was obscured by the camera but Wanda was focused on the car, smiling with her eyes screwed up. She had no idea anything was wrong. Don’t take a camera out, that’s the first rule, but the rule should be don’t take the camera crew out.

I needed the throttle or I’d plough sideways into both of them and carry them over the cliff. I punched it and the car, the amazingly responsive car, shouted and leapt as more petrol fed into its hungry engine. The front tyres gripped the tarmac and sped me away from the crew and I held tight, tried to keep it on the road but I was going too fast.

“Fuck Liza, what the fuck are you doing?” yelled the radio.

The back end of the car slid and I steered into it but there was a cliff wall ahead of me and a dropoff behind me, not quite sheer at this point, no, but enough to tumble me into the desert, and I felt the moment when the car decides it’s going to spin and there’s not a bloody thing you can do about it, nothing but ride it out and hope there’s enough room.

There wasn’t. I braced my body against the back of the seat.

I saw every last rock and scrubby bit of brush on the side of the road. A small weed, spitting pink flowers. I heard gravel flying from the tyres. I got a glimpse of Wanda’s yellow scarf far off to the left, safely out of the way, and then I felt the crunch of the guard rail against the side of the car and a sickening tilt.

April Fool, I had time to say, or maybe only to think, and then the car was flying.

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