Photographs and Memories and “The Secret Wound”

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I’m looking through a window across a garden towards an unknown Chateau which seems to be empty. Two memories surface from the past within this one act of looking. There is the memory of sitting in a car, about to drive away from visiting my mother. I turn to look at the house – to the upstairs bedroom window. My mother is standing there looking out at me. She doesn’t wave. I don’t see her smiling. She is only watching. What is she thinking? I feel a surge of melancholy move through my body – like water in a damn rising to burst through the restraints of the damn wall. I feel the tears run down my face triggered perhaps by an unknown memory. I keep watching until the car pulls out of sight from the house. My mother’s face, now only another photograph imprinted somewhere within me. I did not know that would be the last time that I would see her alive. Yet something, somewhere within me knew.

                In my writing, I draw on real life, real people and then recreate them. In “Eden Burning”, I talk also about this when Tom’s mother dies and he sees her scattered in the faces of everyone he meets – someone has her lips, another her hair, yet another her smile. That’s what I feel that I do as a writer – I take reality like pots of different coloured paint and then make a new painting. So Nuala in “The Secret Wound” has the rainbow colours of my mother.

                A second memory which surfaces looking towards the mysterious Chateau is of a book which I read when studying Spanish literature at University. The author wrote the story from the perspective of the consciousness of a tree in the garden of an old house. The tree tells the story of how it observes through the centuries people coming and going – their loves, confusion and despair. The tree is a neutral observer – an open embrace of branches which accepts all of the to-ing and fro-ing with judgement – a calm, unruffled witness of a flurry of emotional activity and movement.

                In writing “The Secret Wound”, it is important for me as the author to be like that tree - to accept each of the characters which I have created with my pots of paint without judgement. Even more than that – I want to observe deeply what they are doing, thinking and feeling – to learn who they are and who they might be. Each of my characters will have to change – that is life. The question is how will they change? Will they be driven by their dark secrets into an even blacker place of being – or will they be able to scramble out towards the light within a world which will sparkle for them – a world which will be vibrant and full of a bursting potential for welcoming all of the tears and all of the laughter which inevitably spring from being human.