Guest Blog: Catherine Hall on The Repercussions

19 Sep

catherine hallToday’s guest post is from Catherine Hall, an author who was born in the Lake District and worked in documentary film production and international peacebuilding before publishing her first novel, Days of Grace, in 2009. She was chosen as one of Waterstones’ New Voices that year and as an Amazon Rising Star. Her next novel, The Proof of Love, won the Green Carnation Prize 2011 and a Fiction Uncovered Award.

We invited Catherine to write a guest blog about her latest book, The Repercussions newly released this month in paperback and on Kindle – and we were rather delighted when she said yes…

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Hi there, it’s so nice to be here on UK Lesfic and have the chance to tell you a bit about my new novel, The Repercussions.

the repercussionsThere are two main stories in the book, intertwined in various ways. My main character – or one of them – is Jo, who’s a war photographer who’s just returned from Afghanistan and has moved into the Brighton flat that she’s inherited from her great-aunt. She’s in a bad way because of things that happened in Afghanistan, and other, more complicated reasons, and hopes to hide out for a while and sort herself out. Jo finds a diary in the flat that belonged to a woman called Elizabeth who nursed Indian soldiers at the Brighton Pavilion in the first world war. Reading this diary forces her to come to terms with things that happened in Afghanistan but also her relationship with her ex girlfriend Susie – the book is written in the form of a long confession to her. So, having said there’s two stories, there’s actually four: what happened to Jo in Afghanistan, what’s happening to Jo now, what happened with Susie, and what happened to Elizabeth in 1915.

Jo’s a tricky character. I think anyone who spends most of the their life hopping from conflict to conflict, seeing more wars than most soldiers, is bound to be affected by it. And that was what I really wanted to explore in the book – the impact of her work on her and on her relationship with Susie, the girlfriend who was left at home while she went to some of the most dangerous places on earth. Susie was always desperate to have a baby – a thought that terrified Jo and led to their break-up. I started to write the book when my first child was six months old and finished it two years later, a week before the second one was born, and so the impact of children on careers and relationships was very much on my mind.

days_of_grace_original_coverMy first book, Days of Grace, was about an old woman haunted by what happened when she was evacuated as a young girl to a vicarage in Kent during the first world war, and fell in love with the vicar’s daughter. She was never able to really express her sexuality, and that repression ruined her life. In this book, I didn’t want Jo’s sexuality to be the main point – or at least not something that bothered her. I think that’s something that’s changed in lesbian fiction over the last ten years or so. Not everything has to be a coming out story – we can write about lesbian lives and loves in a broader context – and they can even have happy endings!

proof_of_love-original-cover1I recently did an event at Gay’s the Word bookshop in London and spoke about how I first went into the shop aged 16 or so, when I’d sneaked away from a school trip. Shaking at the thought of being in a gay bookshop, I dared to buy a copy of Oranges are Not the Only Fruit. It was a great feeling to be there, 25 years later, with my own book, and talking to a room full of people who wanted to know about it. It’s still not easy to persuade publishers to buy books on gay themes – they’re so cautious about finding audiences – but I think the audience is definitely there. I also think that lesbians are still slightly invisible in mainstream culture but the more we write about ourselves the more we’ll be seen and hopefully understood.

That all sounds very serious! I hope at the end, I’ve written a story that people will want to read and be entertained and hopefully moved by. I guess that’s what any writer ultimately wants.

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Cheers very much, Catherine!

To find out more about Catherine and her novels head to her homepage, and the full blurb for The Repercussions is up on our New Releases page.

 

 

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2 Responses to “Guest Blog: Catherine Hall on The Repercussions”

  1. missourivaun September 19, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

    I just shared the news on Twitter. And added The Repercussions to my To-Read list. Cheers!

    • Cari Hunter September 26, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

      Thanks for the share 🙂 Glad you enjoyed Catherine’s post.

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