Happy Saturday! Today we’re joined by author Jody Klaire again. She has a new book called Hindsight that will be out soon. To celebrate, she’s giving away an ebook! Winner’s choice of any of her books, including The Empath, Blind Trust, La Vie en Bleu, Untrained Eye, and the forthcoming Hindsight. Drop a comment below to enter.
Does your past affect how you see things?
By Jody Klaire
Bit of a meaty topic, isn’t it? In a psychological sense, we have certain processes that the mind goes through to “make sense” of our experiences. There’s research on how those pathways can be heightened in some parts of the brain causing an increased emotional response in Post Traumatic Stress for example. Either way, everyone has mental scrapes and scars and they all make up our response to day-to-day living.
It’s something I’m looking at in Hindsight (The Above and Beyond Series – Book IV) more in depth. Taking the time to show both, what the scars were and then how they made the characters become who they are, took a lot of thought and planning.
For some in the book, those scars had created mental barriers that made it difficult for that character to “let the walls down.” Her past affected her relationships and her level of trust. With a lot of experiences, they can make you lose confidence in yourself as much as your view of your surroundings. I wanted to pay special attention to that in my writing so that it reflected that. Even though I am writing fiction, when a character has been through so much, they don’t just forget about it.
Other people “harden” under the stress of a situation. Those experiences make them “stronger,” on the outside at least. They use the pain to exceed all expectation, forge a path that makes a mark on the people around them. It intensifies their focus and pushes them to succeed. That’s a tough one to steer as an author because that character can make choices which the reader might not like at all. They can be angry and bitter which, although great for the inner conflict to drive tension, doesn’t always make them easy to work with. Finding out how a character who could be angry and bitter yet isn’t, was the story I was looking to tell.
What makes a person, who has been through so much, who has been hit so many times that they shouldbe angry go against that trend? You only have to look at history to see that some of the most positive people have been those who have suffered at the hands of others. Does it mean that they were any less affected by their own fears and doubts?
My main character in the series, Aeron, is a study in this. She has a lot of reason to be angry and to have a chip on her shoulder but she spends her time helping everyone else. Is it a displacement activity to try and ignore her own pain? No. Is it a need because it somehow eases her own issues? Not really.
So what is it?
When I write Aeron, I think of the possibilities of what we can be. That by her default personality, she cares. She cares about other people, her family, her home and all the wonderful things she sees… like delinquent squirrels.
At heart, whether it’s an idealistic point of view or not, I think we all care. We don’t show it in the way we should most of the time; we let all the nagging fears and doubts blind us to it; we are so busy involved in our own stories that we forget everyone else is the star of their own– We’re just a secondary character wandering in to help or hinder or do nothing at all.
When something stirs us though, that care and love seem to soar to the surface whether we want it to or not: through emotion, through physical or mental responses.
The most powerful of them seems to be joy.
Yeah, the negative emotions are tough players but let me explain: if you’re a soccer fan, American and you watched the women’s world cup, I bet the overwhelming feeling was not the panic you might have lost; not the worry of whether the ball was going to hit the net; nah, your main memory was probably the incredible hat-trick goal struck from near the halfway line and… maybe Abby Wambach saying hi to a certain someone in the stands.
Joy, and not because you were on a pitch. It didn’t change your job– if you have one– your health, your community or even what you were going to have for dinner. It had no bearing on you, but you were celebrating because you were an American (or a neutral because that was some goal!) because you saw how much the match meant to the players and you took time out from your day to care about someone else.
You do it more than you realise, right? Sport is one of the biggest reminders that we don’t go through a crowd labelling people into boxes; we don’t even see a gender; we see a team who we’re all cheering… a common goal.
It’s harder with individuals in sport because you either like them or you don’t. Serena Williams has fought for the respect she now is starting to get. It takes a great while longer but she’s doing it. In places where a crowd might have been favouring the opponent, now they are giving her standing ovations. It’s amazing to see.
So in Hindsight, and with all my writing, I look to find a common goal that strips away everything but the fact that the character on the page is a hero (or s-hero as Billie Jean King would say) and you, the reader, want them to succeed. I hope that you see their richness and nuances that make them special but you stop seeing boxes and see someone you connect with, a friend.
We all have a backstory that has made us who we are right now. Some of the parts we’d like to forget, some of them hurt, some of them remind us how far we’ve come but just like a character in a book, we’ve all got the potential to become a (s)hero.
Jody Klaire has been everything from a serving police officer to a musician before finding her home in writing. She is the author of The Empath, Blind Trust, Untrained Eye and La Vie en Bleu. She lives in South Wales in the UK with some “hard working” gerbils, a “well behaved” golden retriever and is a massive tennis fan… oh, and she has a slight affection for cake.
Hindsight is available for pre-order as is Best Maid Plans (the follow up to the best selling La Vie En Bleu.)