During the writing of my novel I tried not to draw attention to the words – I wanted the images to be so vivid the words disappear; I wanted my readers to jump in the carriage and take an effortless ride.
So, if I was editing and I had to go back over a line, or a phrase, or even a word, and read it twice, I would go back and fix it. The result is a book that my readers ‘truly have trouble putting down’ and most read it in two, maybe three days, reading slower and slower toward the last chapters because they don’t want it to end.
However, even though I succeeded in creating an easy, straight through, entertaining and engaging read, for the discerning reader there are many hidden things in this novel, plus some threads that weave across the entire manuscript. Here are a few …
Each chapter is a story in itself.
Only three characters ever called Jay by his full name Jayson.
Mortley’s one good eye, his one enlightened eye, his one furious eye, etc ...
Jay trying to be Australian in Australia and failing, then trying to be American in America and failing.
Jay raising his face to the sun.
Each character has their own speech patterns – for example only one character ever called Jay ‘digger’ or ‘cobber’ and only one character ever said ‘that’s disgustink’, and only one said ‘by jingoes’ – except on one occasion when I had Jay use this term in order to steer the reader in the direction of this one character.
Because Marni only appears on a few occasions, I have attached a simple delicious food to her in order to quickly ground the reader to her character.
The reader gets to watch Jay mature and develop.
There is subtle social commentary, without judgement, on things such as alcoholism, controlling parents, disabled people, racism, dishonesty, fraud, stress, over-work and self-esteem.
The story provides a sensitive insight into the enormous responsibility faced by the caring health care provider.
We know Fred is distressed at Jay living in Australia because of Ruby, but what is the real underlying issue here? *1
Stan McGrath appears grumpy and obnoxious, but he’s actually henpecked. *2
The complexities of Jay’s relationship with his parents is an exploration on its own, and here there are hidden things. For example, Jay only called his father ‘Dad’ on nine very significant occasions, each portraying the same concept.
Personally (as a writer) I find parenthesis very annoying (to say the least) because (to me anyway) they sidetrack the readers’ mind from the flow of the scene. (!) However, I have placed parenthesis in one very specific place for one very specific effect. *3
Liat made the comment: ‘even though Marni only has a brief appearance, she is present on every page’. *4
And Mortley’s attitude toward being disabled is an inspiration to us all, as is particularly evident in this scene –
Jay and Mortley are sitting on the veranda talking, and Jay is hating himself for being obese and ‘disgusting’.
Jay: “Well how do you feel when people look at you like you’re some kind of misfit?”
Mortley: “Don’t give a rat’s arse, Matey. That’s their problem.” * 5
And so we peel off the layers and get to the core: this novel is written from hard won experience, that’s why it rings true and people from all walks of life can identify with it. It makes people laugh at themselves. The base core of this novel is that every single person is precious and unique, and we all go through hard times. But victory comes. And true love really does exist.
I know because I live it.
That’s why the happy ending is there.
* 1. Separation anxiety : page 104
* 2. Page 172
* 3. Page 248
* 4. Liat Kirby
* 5. Page 254