Getting close to publication
My novel, 19 years in the making if you include all the years I put it aside, is soon to emerge into the world. THE GIRL IN HIS EYES, a dark psychological drama with echoes of Lolita, is two months away from publication. (These echoes may be quite distant, and are of course highly dependent on the reader.)
It’s a hectic, exciting and nerve-jangling time right now, with so many things to think about and attend to. I’ve started a project plan for the months ahead but haven’t had much time to update it. I’ve arranged venues for the launch party, designed an invite and have started sending it out. After around 50 attempts I’ve finalised the blurb, with the help of the Bloodhound team and author Natalie Fergie, who made some excellent last-minute suggestions. The tagline is ready (Could you face your worst fears?) The cover came back the other week (can’t share it yet), I’ve finished the copy edit and the proofs have just come in for me to make any final changes.
How might people react to a novel containing child abuse?
After all this time, ‘final changes’ is both music to my ears and – well, disconcerting. It’s time to let my baby go… Did I take out all those pesky song –lyrics? Is there some dreadful hole in the plot that no one has spotted yet? And most of all, can I really let a novel out into the world with scenes depicting lapdancing clubs and child sexual abuse, one which is written partly from the POV of a child abuser?
With a little trepidation, this week I sent off the first advance copies to reviewers. Yesterday I had the first review back and nearly fainted with shock and relief at her reaction (also, I was sitting on a Northern line tube train in 30 degree heat at the time which didn’t help). However, I’m aware that I’ve ventured into risky territory and the book’s subject matter is likely to disturb some readers. I’m wondering if I should put a warning in the book!
The book’s inspiration – deciding how much to share
As some of my own experiences inspired THE GIRL IN HIS EYES (it is most definitely a novel, not real life), I’ve spent considerable time thinking about whether to go public with this, and to what extent. Do I want to reveal the ‘real-life story behind the book’ to the media, or blogs? Would that be too much of an intrusion into my privacy – or is it time to let go of the darker events in my past?
Strangely, thinking about what I want to say about the real-life events which inspired this book seems to echo the dilemma faced by my central character Laura, who must decide whether she has the courage to expose the wrongdoings of her father.
At the moment, I’m not sure how much my decision – to be open about everything, pretty much – is going to impact on my life. I’ve already told lots of friends and a fair few others about the abuse in my childhood, but I’ve not mentioned anything in public. (In fact, this is the first time I’ve even referred to it in a public space, which is another milestone reached, I guess.) This could have unforeseen consequences, who knows. But it feels like the right time to share, given the climate of women – and men, of course – speaking up about their experiences.
I’m off for a brief trip westwards for a breather, then it’s back to checking the proofs…
Note: Pictures for this blog post have been a challenge, given the cover is still under wraps.
If anyone has had a similar dilemma about whether to make public their book’s inspiration, you’re welcome to share here – or thoughts about anything else in this post.