Having grown up in a house in which shouting wasn’t rife (unless it was me bemoaning the fact that nobody LOVED me or UNDERSTOOD me, before slamming my door, to pleas of, “And don’t slam the…” from my long-suffering mother), if it DID happen, it worried me. I recall hearing my parents having a bit of an argument one night when I was in bed. They were pretty cross and their voices were raised, but they weren’t aggressive or particularly volcanic. It led to me imagining anger as lava, pulsating under their bedroom door, glowing with hate (or whatever emotion it was that I perceived to be hate, quite possibly simply high-level irritation). I decided right then that I would one day write a book called Volcano, and Volcano would be about anger.
Fast forward many years, past many boyfriends (suitable AND unsuitable), many friends, many histories, many truths and many tales. I was married with two children, and my son was five years old. He talked a LOT, like many five year-olds, and, in fact, at 19, he still does. I was captivated by his manner.
He would rush through his monologue, becoming increasingly breathless – no commas no punctuation no breath no stopping he just kept on talking and talking and talking until he had finished. And when he had finished, I would stand, open-mouthed, blown away by this little person’s enthusiasm and total overuse of words.
I realized that as adults we lose that; we say only what is required; we no longer try out words just to taste them, or to sense our tongues forming them, or to hear what they sound like in our voice. We have an ulterior motive. But children don’t, they say things because they mean them, because they have experienced something and want to share it. And I wanted Jessica to share with readers what life was like for HER. We very rarely get to be inside the head of ‘incidental’ characters in a book; the child that got in the way. This child has a voice and I wanted her to be heard.
It was really important to me that Paul was three-dimensional. He is a weak man; he is all the bad bits about every person you ever met, rolled in a coating of charm. I wanted glimpses of a human being to come across; rarely is a person 100% evil. Paul has some goodness, deep inside, but I wouldn’t want to be the person who has to dig that deep.
I wanted to be truthful to the horror of domestic violence. The cyclical repetitiveness. The fear. The justification, both from the perpetrator and the victim. The bruises. The make-up. The looking-down-wherever-you-go. The feeling that you have done something wrong. The shame. The frightening potential. My wish is that I managed to capture this honestly and with humility.