On Thursday, I had my first opportunity since the launch to read from, and talk about, ‘Esther Bligh’.
This was in the beautiful setting of Tregwynt Manor, at a Writers’ Forum, arranged by Fishguard Arts Society. The Society is a local organisation which embraces all the arts, and we are very lucky to have it in this part of the world.
I was one of four writers taking part, the others being Helen Carey, Carly Holmes and Alex Barr.
Between us, there was a varied mix of writing styles and subjects, which, I think (hope!) made for an entertaining and interesting evening.
Having been asked to take part in the Forum, I realised I had to think about the writing process – where ‘Esther Bligh’ had come from, how it had evolved, etc. ‘What is it about?’! These are things you don’t necessarily have in your mind while you are writing – you are too lost in the story, which, at that time, is the only thing that matters. This is particularly true, if you don’t plan your book out – something I tend not to do.
So it’s been good to start considering such topics, working out the answers to possible questions. In fact, it has been a valuable and useful exercise, with thoughts not just about ‘Esther’ but all my work. Are there common themes, subjects, characters, settings? Is ‘Esther Bligh’ autobiographical in any way? (I was at pains here to say I had never tried to suffocate my husband – he was, actually, sitting in the audience).
One thing I concluded, with particular reference to ‘Esther’ but also true for several of my stories, is that my readers need to work to reach their own conclusions. I quoted the back of the book: ‘A psychological exploration of a troubled mind, or a story of demonic possession in a haunted house – ‘Esther Bligh’ is as ambiguous as the character herself.’ And this ambiguity is deliberate. I hope the conclusion is satisfying in its way, but I also want to leave the reader still thinking about the story, still wondering about Esther and Grace. ‘Who or What is Esther Bligh?’ ‘How much is happening inside Grace’s head?’ (that ‘troubled mind’).
Some of the feedback I’ve already received (including the reviews I’ve had on Amazon – thank you for those!) suggest I’ve succeeded in this. There’s been a lot of debate – and that’s good, that’s great. And I hope there’ll be a lot more in the future, as ‘Esther’ spreads herself around.