I was talking to a friend the other day who very kindly gave me some feedback on my novels, of which she has read three, she has not yet started ‘Night Vision’. She remarked that a common theme to all of them was secrecy… I replied that there was plenty of that in ‘Night Vision’! I spent some time thinking about what she had said and yes, she’s right, the key to the characters is often the secrets they keep, the plots often hinge on those secrets and whether they are revealed, or when they are revealed, and as a writer I withhold some information from my readers, to intrigue, to mystify, to puzzle and then to satisfy by revealing them.
When Deke Colefox travels to Farholm island, she is desperate to uncover the secrets her dead husband has kept from her. She in turn keeps secrets from the others she meets, the islanders, other visitors and the man she accidentally ends up sharing accommodation, Michael Cabus. Michael also has secrets, secrets from his wife, but he has travelled to the island as Deke has to find the truth about someone from his past, someone he describes as ‘a beloved stranger’. His mission was triggered in fact when an ex-girlfriend told him something she had kept hidden from him for fifteen years, another secret revealed albeit before the start of the story. Revelation in ‘Farholm’ is as crucial to the plot as the secret; Deke puts herself in danger when Michael tells her something he believes about her late husband, and Michael is the only person to whom Deke reveals her bitter secret.
In ‘The Stalking of Rosa Czekov’ poor Rosa is haunted by a stalker; her tormentor, however, is so cunning and devious that there is never any evidence of his persecution of her, and even her own husband Luka, much as he loves her, believes she is fantasizing. Pushed to the limits, Rosa become secretive and starts a relationship with a man she barely knows; however Luka knows him only too well and there is a long and violent history between the two men. Rosa’s cousin Tyche, arrives a year after Rosa’s death vowing to pursue the stalker and secretly determined to avenge Rosa. She is a woman of mystery, evasive about her background, trusting no-one and behaving in a bizarre and seemingly mad way to draw the secret stalker into the open. Other characters also keep quiet about things which have happened to them, not necessarily lying, but evading or avoiding the truth, which, when it is finally revealed, I hope will satisfy my readers, all the loose ends tied up, everything revealed.
When I was thinking about my third novel ‘Loving Judah’, it was not so apparent where the secrecy is. The main character Aislin is open and honest and forthright; she loves and trusts her husband Peter implicitly and like him is devastated by the death of his son, Judah. She wants to do all she can to support and comfort Peter in this dreadful time, but Peter secretly devises a plan which has a devastating impact on Aislin. She meets Bavol an ex-policeman who has had a tragedy in his life, a tragedy which he blames himself for, caused he believes by his deceit and betrayal. Through his friendship with Aislin, however, he comes to realise that the life he led up to the tragedy was a charade; trying desperately to please his parents, his family, his wife, his employers he let himself become the man they wanted, the man he didn’t want to be. He has to face the truth about himself, and about his adored family, and ultimately about his feelings for Aislin.
‘Night Vision’ which my friend has yet to read is all about secrecy. Beulah’s husband Neil is convinced she is having a secret affair with her best friend Rafi. Beulah and Rafi are totally innocent but Neil has a ghastly secret of his own which only begins to come to light when they move back to his home-town of Easthope. Having promised never to contact Rafi again, Neil’s increasingly bizarre behaviour prompts Beulah to secretly contact her friend again, hundreds of miles away in Manchester, they can only phone and text each other. Missing her friends, and Rafi, Beulah comes across a stranger who she feels able to confide in… but he too is a secret she cannot share. If you read ‘Night Vision’ you will find the ultimate secret revealed on the very last page!
I am now working on ‘Flipside’, and again, if I consider it there are secrets here too. David Sullivan keeps a dreadful secret from everyone, and even tries to forget it himself; however it is brought to the surface when he falls in love with his friend and partner’s sister, Jaz, and his love brings the dark and fearful secret bubbling back to the surface. David’s partner is not a true friend, nor a kind brother, his secrets are cruel and unkind and sink to the depths of treachery and betrayal.
As I wrote these stories, I wasn’t aware of this theme, I didn’t consciously think I would write about hidden truths, and concealed events… somehow it just happened!