It has been a breathless, emotional and at times almost overwhelming ten days since the launch of THE GIRL IN HIS EYES on the 18th.
My interview on the Jo Good show on BBC Radio London finally happened this Tuesday (25 September) after two frustrating delays. It was my third radio interview in just over a week (the first with Alan Robson on Radio Metro then one with BBC Radio Tees). But this was my first live one in an actual studio not a pre-record by phone. Believe me, this is VERY different.
I sat opposite the studio door watching the clock ticking past my allocated start time (3.05pm) trying to stay calm and remember what it was I’d planned to say. Then I was ushered in to sit in front of a huge mike, knowing that thousands would be listening to me talking frankly about my past, and about one of the most sensitive of subjects. Certainly it was a face your fear and do it anyway moment!
Jo (aka ‘the BBC dog woman’ owing to her Barking Hour) was wonderful, very warm and professional, and immediately calmed my nerves. I was pleased she introduced me once again as an author (yes, these little things do matter!). In less than fifteen minutes we discussed my latest novel THE GIRL IN HIS EYES, the abuse in my childhood that inspired it, my emotional crisis after my mother died, transforming trauma into creativity – helped by a Jungian therapist who listened to my dreams – and the climate now for women and girls who speak out about sexual abuse, sexual violence and harassment given the #metoo movement, #whyididntreport, etc.
I even got the chance to read out the first poem I had published, Compost. It appeared years ago in Agenda, a UK poetry journal, and is about the transformation of suffering into creative power. I knew Jo liked poetry so I’d brought the poem along in case there’d be time to read it out. There wasn’t time to mention The Truth Project, which I’d been meaning to – and to encourage fellow child sexual abuse survivors in the UK to consider contacting them – though Jo mentioned it later. (I’m going to take part in a session soon – I am not actually part of it, as she said.) All this speaking out seems to be releasing my inner activist 🙂
The BBC iPlayer link is https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06k4rnh. My bit is 2:10 hours in. (Please forgive the hesitations, ums and ahs etc – I will have to work on my delivery.) Afterwards I was on a high for ages and feeling very empowered!
Since publication last week, a spate of reviews have come in for the book. Many people have reacted strongly to the novel, saying it has moved them, or made them tearful or angry. Many have clearly found the subject of child abuse difficult and described the read as shocking or disturbing, yet quite a few awarded five stars despite that. (WARNING: Please be careful before reading the book if you are sensitive to this subject matter.) One or two of the reviews have had me lost for words, such as this one from The Book Magnet. A quote from it:
“Superbly written, The Girl In His Eyes is such an intensely emotional book that I had to pause often to catch my breath and keep my emotions in check. I have never felt such a huge spectrum of emotions whilst reading a book, ranging from anger and disgust right though to sadness and hope. The Girl In His Eyes is so exceptional that I could give nothing less than 5 stars for this heartbreakingly emotional book.”
I was struck by this one on Goodreads:
This is a ARC copy from Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.
This. Was. Fucking. Disturbing.
I’ve read tons of thrillers with pedophiles in them, but I’ve never read from their point of view and gotten to see what they think and feel and do.
This was a amazing book though.
I feel a little dazed by the reaction so far, actually – and it’s a relief, given I thought some readers would really hate a novel containing a child abuser’s point of view. I’ll add that I’m very grateful to all those who have taken the trouble to leave a review, however you feel about the book.
Amazon Kindle charts
Before I go, I’ll mention how chuffed I’ve been at how my book has shot up the rankings recently on the Amazon Kindle charts. It was in the top 150/200 of the overall UK chart for most of last week and peaked at 131 (imagine a long list of stunned face emojis). Also it got into the ‘Best Sellers in Women’s Crime Fiction’ and ‘Best Sellers in Women’s Psychological Fiction’ lists!
By my next post, I expect things will be back to normal and I’ll have a chance to read and write some book reviews myself. Happy writing and reading, and thanks to the people who have contacted me with their messages of support!