**UPDATE** Since I wrote this post, my book has been renamed If I Should Lose You. Great title isn’t it? So, Bodies is now If I Should Lose You. Hope that makes sense!
This week’s blog post haas come about through a comment that the lovely Amanda left on my blog last week – it’s all very well to tell us that Bodies is being published next August, she said, but what the hell is Bodies about?
It’s a very good question and one that I will try my best to answer although I always find that I’m terrible at describing what my book is about. It’s only when I get sent things like back cover blurbs and book club notes from my publisher that I say – aha, that’s what my book is about.
Bodies is about so many things. Like What is Left Over, Afer, it’s about mother and daughter relationships but in a very different way to the relationships depicted in my first book.
Bodies began after I read an article in, of all places, the Financial Review newspaper. The article was a review of a book about organ donation and transplantation and a few things in this article caught my attention. The first was when it discussed how, many years ago, the definition of death had to be re-legislated – from cardiac death to brain death – in order to facilitate organ donation. I began to think about how a concept as finite as death could be redefined and as I though, ideas began to grow.
The Financial Review article also discussed how certain cultures believe that removing a person’s organs leaves their sould trapped in a space between life and death. This led me to think about the heart, and the amount of symbolism we attach to the heart. I wondered how about the way we attach powerful ideas of love and the soul to the heart yet we are open to a heart being taken from a person’s body and given to another. The final thing the article discussed was the role of specially trained nurses working in an area the Amercians call procurement, that is, the procurement of organs, as if to procure an organ was the same as procuring stationery supplies for the office. What kind of person would work in organ procurement, I wondered, and so of course I had to create a character to find out.
But out of that initial clump of ideas a story and a set of characters grew. My characters caused me to explore some of the things that can happen to marriages after the advent of children and the way in which children can cause marriages to change irrevocably, in all kinds of ways. I also began to look at the conflicts of raising a child and having a career and then, because you have to throw everything you possibly can at your characters in order not to make their lives too easy, I began to look at how a family is affected by having a critically ill child in their midst – not so much the big picture stuff but the dailiness of it, what it means when, as well as the incessant daily demands of feeding, bathing, playing, loving, cleaning, teaching, there is another set of daily demands that are all-consuming because they are simply about surviving.
I look back at Bodies now and it is by no means the book I started to write – it is better (I hope!), more complex, richer, and it has an emotional depth to the story that I hope will resonate with the reader. My third book is developing in the same way; already, at 20,000 words in I can see that it is not the book I started to write – it is so much more.
So, I hope I’ve caught your interest with that description, which is certainly not the sort of description I’d put into a synopsis or a back cover blurb but it is, to me, what my book is really all about. What do you think?