'The past is never dead...'
The Faerie Tree is told exclusively from the points of view of the two main characters, Izzie
and Robin. It was the first time I had written that way and a big challenge was making sure
they had very different voices. I've always believed in working with an editor and it really paid
off when she told me Robin needed to be gruffer, more angry. She was wrong; it was Izzie
who was feeling that way, but it hadn’t come through in her voice at all.
Izzie was a wonderful character to write; a widow in her early forties with a teenage
daughter. A real and rounded woman, with as many faults as she has good points, her
tough exterior belying the welter of insecurities beneath. All that tempered with glimpses
of the carefree girl she was before the events triggered by a fateful visit to the Faerie Tree
changed her life forever.
As inspiration for her relationship with her daughter, Claire, I had to draw on the
experiences of my friends and acquaintances. I am not a mother myself, which
undoubtedly made it harder, but it is amazing how much you absorb just by listening. Sometimes I think listening is more important than writing itself.
Robin, though, is my favourite character. Not the twenty-three year old, but the man he grows into over the years. In him there is hope; he emerges from the depths of depression a stronger, wiser and more grounded person. He finds a belief that is bigger than him and a self-awareness which is unusual. That’s not to say he’s perfect – he’d be boring if he was – but I am hoping his story can be an example for anyone battling with mental illness that there is better to come.
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