I am interested in the complex challenges, the dilemmas of mid life, that I see friends, family, colleagues and clients facing. And that I experience myself of course! I am particularly thinking of regrets of the past and how persistent they can be: actions taken…. actions you wish you’d taken; words spoken…. or not. This led me to think about the desire for revenge against people who have hurt us, who may even have changed the course of our lives. How do we control our urge for vengeance? What happens if we can’t?
Could you briefly explain, what your book is about?
Honor’s Shadow is about two women, Honor and Madalena. As young women, they were in love with the same man, Thomas, at the same time. When we first encounter them in Honor’s Shadow, they are in their 40’s, and their paths have crossed again, awakening old feelings of rivalry and revenge. The book explores what happened between them in the past, and how they each now deal with their difficult feelings.
Where did the idea come from?
I first had the idea for this book about ten years ago, on a beach in Italy, in a conversation with my sister, stimulated by an article in the newspaper about a woman who discovered that her husband had fathered a child with another woman, and she took rather violent revenge. What would happen if you found out something, that made you re-consider a whole episode of your life, if it cast your experience in quite a different light? How might you react?
What were your motivations and feelings towards writing this book?
At the beginning, it was quite disturbing to explore some of the ideas in the novel. Like how long it’s possible to bear a grudge – forever in some cases. I researched ideas on revenge from psychology, philosophy, and religion and this proved fascinating. How primitive the desire for revenge is, and its psychological and social function as a regulator of collective behaviour; how to resolve it? Religions offer different perspectives, from the gentleness of the Buddhists, to the conflicting ideas from the Bible: turn the other cheek, like the Buddhists? or an eye for eye? This is interpreted as: ideally, do nothing, but if you must take revenge, it must never be greater than the injury to you. Whereas other religious ideas say that revenge should always be a little bit more than your own injury – just for the satisfaction I should think – though the reason is so that future generations do not bear the scars of loss of face. I wanted to believe that revenge could be soothed, and I found the key to this in Greek mythology, when I discovered three Goddesses of revenge, The Furies, and their formula for consolation. Their story allowed me to make Honor’s Shadow a tale of redemption. And that made me happy.
What impact do you think this story will have on readers?
Betrayal is a very common human experience, and it often causes great emotional pain and distress. Honor’s Shadow looks at betrayal and revenge from a range of perspectives: the betrayal of infidelity in marriage, the betrayal of friendships, the betrayal of children, and how we can betray ourselves. This will probably turn people’s minds to their own experiences, and offer them some new and provocative ways of thinking about them. I hope the story could show them that freedom and redemption are entirely possible…….
Who do you think the novel will appeal to?
A female audience, because the main characters are female. I think some men might find it interesting to0….
Could you tell us a bit more about your work, and your experience?
I work in the corporate and business world, helping executives to be as effective as possible in their work. This often means thinking back through their pasts, successes and failures, clearing any obstructions from the past, to allow for the free flow of energy towards the future. I have listened to the stories of hundreds of people over the years, and this has given me great respect for the ways in which people overcome difficult experiences and emotions. I see psychology and story telling as different ways of stimulating people to think more deeply about their lives and what they want, what would be fulfilling. In the future, I hope to succeed as a novelist and spend more time writing fiction.
What is your current writing project?
I am working on a sequel to Honor’s Shadow, Honor’s Ghost, a story about Honor’s struggle to find happiness during mid-life. Once that is complete, I plan a third novel, Honor’s Spirit, a work of speculative fiction set fifty years in the future.