I’m delighted to welcome a fairly new member of the Crooked Cat community of authors, Isabella May. Her brilliantly-titled novel is out next week. Over to you, Isabella.
Why I Wrote ‘Oh! What a Pavlova’
When my fellow Crooked Cat author, Miriam Drori, invited me to feature a guest post on her blog, I knew it could only be about one aspect of my multi-faceted, up-coming debut novel, ‘Oh! What a Pavlova’: Domestic Violence.
All of which ties in nicely – for want of a better word – with the subject of Miriam’s first non-fiction book with Crooked Cat (published last month): Social Anxiety.
[Miriam: Social Anxiety Revealed, for anyone who doesn’t know.]
But first a little backstory, if I may, courtesy of my book blurb:
Kate Clothier is leading a double life: a successful jet-setting businesswoman to the outside world, but behind closed doors, life with Daniel and his volcanic temper is anything but rosy.
Some days – heck, make that EVERY day – cake is her only salvation.
Slowly but surely, the cities she visits – and the men she meets – help her to realise there IS a better future.
And the ley lines of Glastonbury are certainly doing their best to impart their mystical wisdom…
But will she escape before it’s too late?
Contrary to the way domestic violence is often portrayed…
Many victims (men, as well as women) are living a double life. And I don’t just mean a double life in terms of masking what is going on behind closed doors and acting ‘normally’ in front of family and friends, work colleagues and acquaintances; I mean a full-on, in your face Double Life that would suggest their entire life is Just Perfect in every single way. I know because I have been there. That’s why it was so easy, and so important, to write Kate Clothier’s story, to hopefully help others recognise their mirror image, to hopefully inspire them to wake up, smell the coffee and get the heck out.
We need only look at high profile cases of DV to see this.
And here I mention no names, but there have been numerous accounts of the relationships of the rich and famous taking on a very different nature once the front door is slammed shut and the luxury velvet curtains drawn tight. From actors to pop icons, chefs to politicians, no stone is left unturned when it comes to physical and mental abuse. No amount of money or privileged upbringing can act as a harbour.
A violent partner isn’t violent all of the time.
One of the biggest myths when it comes to DV is that an abusive other half is constantly on the attack, be it with belittling words or fists. The reality is nothing could be further from the truth (although of course, I acknowledge in some cases, the violence can be incessant). Understandably, this makes it harder for somebody like Kate to flee. The ego will come up with excuses, many ridiculously ‘plausible’. In Kate’s case, antagonist Daniel might lob a plate of food at her across the kitchen… just a couple of times a year because he expected meat and two veg instead of salad, or pinch her calf beneath the shield of the table cloth whilst tucking into Sunday dinner with her parents in quiet response to her announcement she is off on another business trip… but only because he will ‘miss her so much’ and only once in a blue moon. The perpetrator might take to ‘gas-lighting’, enervating the diminishing self-esteem of their prey slowly but surely. Subtle manipulation is another tactic, all too oft employed like a wolf in sheep’s clothing; in particular the perpetrator might threaten to take their own life if the victim as much as hints that they will leave. Indeed the abusive mind is a labyrinth, diverting to avoid dead ends, twisting and turning until its goal of ultimate control has been achieved.
Domestic violence has no ETA.
Unlike the precious cargoes of books Kate sells to her overseas clients for her living, Daniel’s unpredictability can be viewed as equally damaging as any constant lashing out. Kate is perpetually stepping on egg shells; she’s flighty and nervous, full of procrastination and self-doubt. Her perpetrator is King of keeping her right where he wants her: unsure and terrified, less likely to leave him, more likely to stay.
Ultimately though, we need to get to the root cause of victimisation.
Here’s where I’m more than aware that ‘Pavlova’ could cause a little Marmite Divide; for this is a novel which dares not only to straddle genres, but to inject a little humour into the proceedings. And take it from me: comedy is one essential coping mechanism in any abusive relationship. No, not in the heart of any action, but as a general means of self-preservation, as a diversion from the hell that is daily life.
However, being self-aware of what is going on is one thing, understanding the spiritual journey we took to get there is quite another. Yet, it’s the only way to bring permanent change into our lives. There’s an intricate chemical reaction going on between the abused and the abuser. Until we address that with empathy, for both sides, we’ll keep on repeating the pattern – in all areas of life. This is my take on the subject anyway. It won’t sit well with everybody, but it is high time we delved deeper, unwrapped the layers of the onion to see what is at the heart of the things projecting out before us. If my words help just one person to do that, they’ll have been worth the blood, sweat and tears.
And that’s as much as I’m going to say about that. To find out more, you’ll just have to order the book!
Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. When she isn’t having her cake and eating it, sampling a new cocktail on the beach, or ferrying her children to and from after school activities, she can usually be found writing.
As a Co-founder and a former contributing writer for the popular online women’s magazine, The Glass House Girls – http://www.theglasshousegirls.com – she has also been lucky enough to subject the digital world to her other favourite pastimes, travel, the Law of Attraction, and Prince (The Purple One).
She has recently become a Book Fairy, and is having lots of fun with her imaginative ‘drops’!
Oh! What a Pavlova is her debut novel… and her second novel has already been submitted to her publishers: watch this space…
Thank you, Isabella, for that thought-provoking introduction to your novel.
You can follow Isabella May on her website and social media here:
Twitter – @IsabellaMayBks
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/IsabellaMayAuthor/
Instagram – @isabella_may_author