Thursday 20 June 2024

The Last Thing You’ll Hear Blog Tour - Guest Post

With Glastonbury, one of the UK’s biggest music festival happening next week, it feels only right to be involved in The Last Thing You’ll Hear blog tour (hosted very kindly by Kaleidoscopic Tours)

The Last Thing You’ll Hear follows sisters Wren and Lark, who seem more like rivals than sisters. So when a mysterious music producer and his DJ prodigy come to their small town, both sisters are desperate to impress. Lark is the one who is taken under the producer’s wing, but Wren can’t help feeling that there’s something sinister going on as Lark distance herself from her friends and family.

But when the sisters get the chance to perform at the most-talked-about music festival of the summer, Enrapture, things come to a head a there’s a lot to lose. Can Wren put her jealously and ambitions to save her sister, or is it too little, too late for them both? 

A twisted thriller set at a music festival? Sign me up! 

Anyway, I am thrilled to be hosting a guest post about the power/dangers of music and why festivals are the perfect place to set thrillers, written by Jan Dunning. Some of you might know her from her debut thriller, Mirror Me, a twisted fairy-tale inspired thriller set in the world of high fashion…

Before I past you over to Jan’s guest post, I just want to thank her for finding the time to write this for this tour and huge thank you for Blue at Kaleidoscopic Tours for allowing me to tag along on this tour. If you want to say hi to Jan, you can do so on either Instagram and X/Twitter, and if you want to know more about The Last Thing You’ll Ever Hear, please check it out at (Affiliate Link Alert).

Now, with that out of the way, over to Jan!

Jan Dunning on the power of music, and why a festival was the perfect setting for her new YA thriller The Last Thing You’ll Hear.


My new YA novel, The Last Thing You’ll Hear is a contemporary thriller, crammed with sibling rivalry, obsessive fandom, toxic cults, and an enigmatic music guru who exploits two musical sisters in an attempt to lure teens to mysterious festival, Enrapture. It’s loosely based on the tale of the Pied Piper, but at its heart, it's a story about the power of music, and the things that influence us when our identities are still forming.

I’m a huge music fan, an obsession that started in my teens. Around the age of sixteen, I discovered live music, and there was no looking back. I just missed the rave scene (too young) but I was a committed ‘indie kid’ throughout the nineties, and not a week went by when I didn’t go to a gig of some sort, whether at a local pub, a dingy venue, or a big Birmingham club (blagging my way in with dodgy fake ID). If I wasn’t watching bands play live, I was in my bedroom, playing (badly) on my guitar or making carefully curated mixtapes for my friends, hoping to tweak their tastes until they were as obsessed with my latest find as me.

My dream was to go to a festival. What could be better than hundreds of bands, days of live music, all in one place? Festivals of all sizes are everywhere now, but back then there were none near the small corner of Shropshire where I grew up. Glastonbury was the holy grail, but tickets were ridiculously expensive (no change there…). It seemed like my festival dream was out of reach.

It's a similar story for Wren, the main character in The Last Thing You’ll Hear. Wren lives in Hamlington, a fictional place based on my home town and a nod to Hamelin, from the Pied Piper story. Nothing ever happens in Hamlington, so when Wren and her friends learn about new, upcoming festival Enrapture, they’re desperate to go.

There’s something special about a festival, and the Hamlington teens know it. As Wren muses to her best friend Danny, going to Enrapture could ‘change her life’ – and not just because, as a young singer-songwriter, there’s a chance she might get to play on the emerging artists’ stage. Festivals are magical spaces. They exist in their own distinct reality, separate from dreary daily life.  When Wren first sets foot inside Enrapture, she likens it to Narnia or Wonderland, overwhelmed by the brand-new world around her:


‘My brain is buzzing and my senses are stirring. I want to absorb every tiny detail, lie down in the parched grass and soak up every sound and smell and sensation. We’re in a cut-off world of no rules and no adults where anything could happen, where our worries could dissolve and our problems disappear…”


That’s why festivals are so seductive: Anything can happen. For a short while, you can do anything, be anyone, behave as you please. You’re surrounded by young, like-minded people, free from stress, responsibility and judgement.

Normal rules do not apply.

That freedom is incredibly attractive for a teen, and it’s also why a festival makes the perfect setting for a YA thriller. Festivals are places of extremes. Any situation where teens come together, free from adult interference (for good or for bad) is going to produce fireworks. Things will be amazing, or terrible. There’s no in between.

In The Last Thing You’ll Hear, tickets for Enrapture sell out in minutes. The teens of Hamlington are bored, drifting, insecure – and festival promoter ‘Adam Webb’ takes full advantage with the messaging around the festival:


The world is broken.

You’re lost and alone,

Searching for something to believe.

Open your mind.

Return to simpler times.

At ENRAPTURE, we will heal.


The promise that Enrapture will ‘fix’ them is impossible for Wren and her friends to resist – and while readers may quickly realise that there’s a darker side to Enrapture – that something… supernatural might be at work – the teens’ obsession makes them oblivious.

I loved writing the festival scenes; creating the atmosphere and building the threat, the sense that something is very wrong at Enrapture – that there’s a damn sight more to worry about than the long queue for the portaloos. I tried to give Enrapture the immersive vibe of a Punchdrunk theatre production (check them out!) and a Night Circus otherworldliness, combined with the unsettling intensity that comes with any fanatical fandom. I wanted the darkness that lurks beneath a seemingly happy community, like in the films Midsommar and The Wicker Man.

For me, the best thrillers have high stakes and locked sets, and a festival setting has those things in spades. Once inside Enrapture, the teens are cut off geographically, physically and psychologically. They’re in a remote valley. Phone signals are non-existent. It’s easy to lose your friends. A high security fence encircles the site. On top of that, the main arena is enclosed too, and the domed main stage is made of twisted thorny briar, backlit by the sun, like a sinister Eden Project.

Even so, the teens funnel willingly like rats into the arena…

And then the music starts.

But I won’t tell you how the story ends. Maybe you know the tale of the Pied Piper, maybe you don’t. All I’ll say is that, by the end of the story, Wren and every teen in the arena must decide what they believe.

As for my festival dream, it did come true eventually. In 1995, I finally got the chance to go to Glastonbury. And just like Wren at Enrapture, ‘it was everything I dreamed…’

Life-changing, even.

But that’s another story…*


*See my debut, Mirror Me

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