I have had two books published now, and still feel embarrassed when people comment on them to me, even though the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive (I suspect that people who don’t like a book don’t seek the author out to tell them!). And while it’s great getting the praise, something happened the other day that blew me away.
My second novel, Two Lives, wasn’t an easy book to write, nor is it an easy book to read. Being a counsellor, I tend to write about protagonists who are confronting hefty issues, because I like to explore how people respond to them. Two Lives, as you might guess from the title, has two protagonists, both female, both grappling with big, awful, painful situations; one is living in a violent relationship, the other loses her four year old son in a car accident. Eventually they meet and there are also consequences to that (I don’t want to give too much away!)
If this sounds to heavy, here’s a snippet from a review by thebookbag.co.uk
“…this is a compelling story built around two likeable main characters with convincing dialogue and experiences. The novel does what fiction does best: exploring the small moments that can change lives for good. I’d be interested in reading a sequel or another novel from Sarah Bourne.”
That was great. But even better was the feedback I received the other day. I was talking to a woman who had read the book. Here is the conversation we had:
‘My sister left her husband because of you.’
‘Sorry? What do you mean?’
‘I read Two Lives. Then I gave it to my mother, and when she’d read it, we had a chat and decided to give it to my sister.’
I held my breath.
‘She had to read it in secret.’
I let the breath out. I knew what was coming.
‘She saw herself in your character, Emma. And suddenly she realised that she had to get out, and what’s more, that she could get out. So she did. Thank you.’
I can’t say I wrote Two Lives in order to enable people to leave violent relationships, but to know that even one woman was helped by it is extraordinary and humbling. It is this kind of feedback that makes the countless hours of writing, revising and editing worthwhile. So now I must get back to the works in progress; one, the story of a British nurse in the Second World War and the other, a woman wrongly accused of terrorism after the London bombings. I wonder what people will say about them?