In last month’s blog I let you all know that the draft copy of my book is being read by six very important people whose opinions I value to help shape the final edit. Therefore, this month’s blog is going to have a slightly different feel to previous blogs, which I am very excited about. And I hope you are too. My good friend and sister from another mister – Lisa – suggested that each of my six readers should ask the author (me!?) a question about the story. So below is the second part of the resulting Q&A with my sample readers, and I hope it gives you all a little insight into the actual project itself!
Are situations that arise in the book dealt with differently than how you would have dealt with them in real life?
This is a tricky one to answer without giving too much away. Essentially, yes. Although I would say that Sarah is a little like me in terms of her initial journey – the uncertainty of her feelings, suppressing what she felt and not being able to say things out loud. Her development is that she became more forward and more certain about herself. I would say as her character develops she is much braver and bolder than I would be. I guess she is a vision of how much you can achieve if you follow your own values and stay true to yourself.
Do you think that Sarah being in Australia is the reason she was able to realise things, as she was removed from friends and family? (Sarah is originally from the UK)
This is a good question and perhaps helps explain why I did draw upon personal circumstance for some elements of the story. I was lucky to grow up in a time where the world was slowly changing their opinions on homosexuality, but speaking from experience, being a teenager in the early 90s openly saying you were gay was still hard. I was closeted until I was 22 years old but I knew I liked girls well before that. However, I didn’t openly admit it to myself until I came back from my own travelling experience.
It might explain why I decided to opt to have the book based around travelling, not just for the obvious metaphor of discovery but because you are out of your comfort zone and finally on a path of realising who you are and what you like. You have a lot of time on your own and meeting lots of new people who show you lots of things about yourself. So I am biased in this opinion, also as the writer of Sarah’s fate, but yes, I do think that the distance and being out of her comfort zone helped highlight to Sarah who she was and who she was truly attracted to rather than the influence and perceived acceptance of those she loves.
What was the motivation behind the change in the ending of the story?
My original idea for this book came to me just before I was at university, which was a long time ago now! My initial version was how I wanted the story to end when I was 23 years old. I am now 36 so a lot has changed! When I ended the book the first time round I was over the moon but I had this sub-plot idea which didn’t really fit the story or its ending. However, once I let the goal of finishing the story settle and I read back through what I had written, I realised it could be so much better. My cousin Gareth helped strip it all back by giving me some constructive comments and also some other literature to read to help develop my idea.
In a reference to previous blogs, I met someone earlier this year who used to ask: ‘What do you want?’ ‘What do you dream of?’ ‘What are your goals?’ and ‘What have you learnt?’ It slowly made me realise a few things about myself and I realised my character had not learnt anything and was essentially written through the eyes of a young naïve 23 year old, as I was then. The whole situation taught me a lot about self-worth and respect, mainly through losing one and not demanding the other. So I knew the ending had to change to ensure the protagonist had developed and to also accommodate an original idea which I actually think acts as an excellent metaphor. I guess to find out what I mean, well, you’ll have to read the book.
Written by Corina Hawkins, soon to be author of ‘Tattoos of memories’ and creatively bossed by Lindsey Barnett.