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The House Mate: Publication Day Blog – Nina Manning

 

A stark white living room, a perfectly made bed, a picture perfect family – these are some of the images you might find on the account of a Cleanstagrammer, Instagram’s latest trending influencers. These marigold-cladded heroes have recently hit the social media site which boasts the lives of others through tiny little squares. And the fans are following in their millions.

They must be doing something right because whenever I stumble across a Cleanstagrammer’s page, a sense of calm washes over me. The cleanliness and the spotless homes are so aesthetically pleasing. Cleanstagrammers accounts are different to those of general influencers; we still become enraptured by the seamlessness of their lives, but we also get to see some of the muck and mess first.

Most Cleanstagrammers will give hints and the tips in their Instagram stories: they may show you how to make a shower shiner with just a lemon and a spoonful of bicarbonate of soda, or they’ve made a video of themselves jet washing their bin, sexed up by an overlay of audio and a shimmery filter. There are countless followers drooling over this cleaning porn, which has had another surge of popularity due to the relentless bad news, further restrictions and the pandemic itself. Many of the Cleanstagrammers are fighting their own anxiety demons and so have inadvertently created a place where those who struggle with chaos and uncertainty can come and feel serenity, chat with like-minded followers and also pick up a few handy tips along the way.

It was these very ‘Cleanstagrammers’ or ‘Cleanfluencers’ who inspired me to write a book where the central character becomes a little too obsessed with an Instagram account as well as the person who trolls that account.

Obsession is a perfect theme for a psychological thrillers and domestic noir style novels. I like to write my protagonists with flaws, and so they always have some sort of hurdle to overcome. In The House Mate, Regi has suffered a trauma and as a result has developed OCD. She uses cleaning as a way to expel some of the unwelcome thoughts. But she becomes a little too distracted by Mrs Clean and one particular troll and before long, Regi has immersed herself in the lives of these two women and discovered that those pretty little squares don’t always paint the real picture.

The House Mate focuses on the current trend of Instagrammers and Cleanstagrammers, and will remind readers to think twice and maybe even look a little closer when they next start scrolling through their favourite influencer’s account.