As we were driving to Switzerland we were listening to the book Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. We stopped the recording to talk about what we had heard and my husband said ‘So what it’s really about could be summed up as ‘Who am I?’’ The penny dropped that it was also a good way to describe two of the books I’ve already written and the novel I’m working on at the moment.
The Appearance of Truth can be read at two levels. Yes, there is the overlying story of tracing a family tree and the question of who Lisa is in practical terms, but underneath that is the much deeper question who is she as a person. What has made her the person she is? It looks at her surroundings, her friends and family environment, but also at the questions one can ask oneself to really get to the bottom of what matters to you. What are your principles? How do you live your life? How do you work out what you believe in? There are other points I could draw out in the family relationships, but I don’t want to spoil the story for those of you who haven’t read the book yet.
Alfie’s Woods is about who Hedgehog is. He asks himself the deeper questions in relation to the behaviour of those around him and changes his life because of it. He recognises that it is easy to follow a path that appears to be carved out for you without thinking about the fact that you have a choice. Who you are is up to you not up to someone else. Symbolically, Hedgehog changes his name from just Hedgehog to Harry Hedgehog. It is a small change but an important one as it is part of his new character, the one in which he takes control of his own life and lives it true to himself.
My new book is very much about who the characters really are and ends with a potentially life changing decision which is totally dependent on the answer to that question by one of the characters. I can’t tell you more at this stage as it will spoil it when you read the book later.
Identity is a fascinating subject to study. Our beliefs and convictions, our principles and philosophy govern every action and every decision we make. A little morbid perhaps, but we were talking about the music that should be played at the end of our funerals. My husband said he would choose for mine ‘I am the One and Only’ and when I stopped to think about it, he’s probably right. There really is nobody I’d rather be.