I am delighted to welcome
|Cutting Edge Press|
Shelan ~ welcome to Jaffareadstoo and thank you for sharing your book Twin Truths with us.
What is it about your writing that will pique the reader’s interest?
I’m hoping the title will already start to do this, as it is deliberately ambiguous.The protagonists are twins and this is a story of discovery, an unveiling or dismantling of the very concept of truth in people’s lives. We all search for answers at one level or anotherover the course of our lifetime and Jenny’s search when her sister disappears is a journey of twists and turns. My hope is that the psychological suspense will grip the reader early on and that the writing is evocative enough to carry him/her to places they may have never been to. Not just geographical places but the hidden places inside someone’s head. I have tried to create a story that is both compelling and thought-provoking.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of Twin Truths?
Actually a surprisingly difficult question to answer. I started to write Twin Truths over 10 years ago at a tough time in my own life when I couldn’t walk – perhaps it was this lack of mobility that triggered the introspection I needed to write. Anyway, Sunday was my writing day, alongside a full time job, but as I recovered I got busier with work and the book kept getting parked. I think it took 2 to 3 years to finish the first draft. Then I moved to Kenya and it stayed quiet for a long while, before I revisited it and did a huge edit - including a total rewrite of the ending. So, it really is a book that has grown with me over time. I actually finished the first draft of my second novel before I went back to the rewrite of Twin Truths.
Your main character Jenny is on an emotional journey - how important is location to your story?
A fascinating question.How much does location shape us and influence the river of life? As someone who was born in Africa, grew up in an aboriginal community in Australia and has lived for large chunks of time in Argentina, England, Kenya and Spain, this is a question I have lived with all my life…
When Jenny’s sister disappears, Jenny flees to Argentina in an attempt to discover what happened and rebuild her life and sense of self without her sister. Location – or dislocation – can be very defining in terms of understanding who we are, powerfully grounding or alienating or liberating. How much does changing where we live change who we are? Jenny’s interaction with Argentinian culture, self-expression in a foreign language, the reaction of others towards her, the shared sense of exploration of people in their twenties travelling and living abroad – these are all factors at play.
There is also a subtle link between the history of Argentina and Jenny’s own character. In my own experience of living there in the 80s and 90s, the consciousness of Argentina’s 30,000 ‘disappeared’ during the military dictatorship that ended with the Falklands war was a slippery animal under the surface of bubbly Buenos Aires, a darkness many tried to bury. Jenny becomes close to someone who lost her own sister because she was one of the disappeared, an important parallel in the story.
Then there are the falls at Iguazu, stunningly moving and the setting of a crucial scene in the story. Water plays an almost metaphysical role in Jenny’s life and the Devil’s Throat in Iguazu falls is a place where water is mesmerizing enough to tempt you to jump to your death.
But the book is also partly set in England and Greece. Different geographical and emotional contexts, different landscapes shaping the river of someone’s life…
In your research for Twin Truths did you discover anything which surprised you?
This is a hard question to answer without giving away the plot! I think above all it confirmed the amazing complexity of the human spirit and how little we really understand about how our minds work. What makes us who we are? Can we change who we are? What is this thing called ‘I’ that we carry with us on life’s journey?
When do you find the time to write, and do you have a favourite place to do your writing?
Over the last few years I have lived on two different flower farms in Kenya and then on the volcanic cape of Cabo de Gata in the south of Spain, so my writing venues have varied quite a lot! Wherever I am, I like to write in front of a window. When writing really flows it is almost a form of meditation and I find that looking through a window helps get me into the quasi-conscious state that opens the gates to the subconscious and lets the writing flow.
As for finding the time, this is a challenge! I continue to juggle my writing around a full time job and I certainly don’t have a disciplined or consistent approach. I am a bit of an all or nothing person and when I write I like to lose myself and spend hours at a time. I have wonderfully happy memories of a writing highlight in Kenya: a writer friend and I rented a house on the beach at Watamu for a week, swam every morning with the sunrise, and filled our days with writing, fresh fish, conversation, sea, and white wine.Not possible every day of course but highly recommended!
Can you tell us if you have another novel planned?
My second novel is in its last stages and will be published by Cutting Edge Press, who also published Twin Truths. Set in England and Kenya during the post-election crisis of 2008, Yellow Room is a drama that explores the power of secrets to run our lives.
The third novel exists in my head but I have yet to really get stuck into this one. Working title: ‘A Paper Trail’. It’s another multi-layered psychological tale with dark undertones. In this one, an unpublished manuscript by the father she never knew falls in to the hands of Elisa and takes her to Kenya, where a twist presents the one person from her past she never wanted to meet.
blogging at http://www.unpasomas.net/shelan/blog/
My thanks to Shelan and Harriet Ash at Cutting Edge Press for their help with this interview.
There is one copy of Twin Truths up for grabs in this great UK only giveaway
My thoughts on Twin Truths
Truth is an uneasy concept which we all adapt to suit ourselves and in Twin Truths Shelan Rodger takes the concept of truthful identity and turns the question on its head in a story which keeps you guessing from beginning to end.
In many ways, this cleverly suspenseful tale divulges the story of the emotional connection between, Jenny and Pippa. When one of them disappears in mysterious circumstances, the remaining twin, Jenny, sets off on a journey of discovery, not just to determine what happened to Pippa, but ultimately to find out more about herself. Jenny is the quintessential unstable narrator, what she tells us we believe, because that’s how the truth is presented, but as the story progresses, what becomes obvious is that there are far more questions than answers, and that truth is all too often a misused commodity.
The concept of credible evidence is a skilfully manipulated until it becomes the driving force of the novel and with lyrical precision the shocking story of love, loss and culpability is revealed in a story that is as profound as it is beautiful. Without doubt, this is a very commendable debut novel, and well worth a read.