Thursday, December 1, 2011

MONDAYS ARE RED blog tour... The Guilt Edition

I'm thrilled to bits to be hosting a stop on Nicola Morgan's blog tour. If you don't know Nicola, I can assure you that she is a) lovely (not in the least bit crabbit) and b) an incredible writer. MONDAYS ARE RED was Nicola’s debut YA novel, published in 2002. Nicola is now delighted to be producing the ebook herself, with a new cover and extra material, including creative writing by school pupils inspired by the book. For details about how to buy (price around £1.99 until the end of January), have a look here. Also, you can go follow Nicola on Twitter here.

About the book
When Luke wakes from a coma, his world has altered. Synaesthesia confuses his senses and a sinister creature called Dreeg inhabits his mind. Dreeg offers him limitless power – even the power to fly – and the temptations are huge, but the price is high. Who will pay? His mysteriously perfect girlfriend, with hair as long as the sound of honey? His detested sister, Laura, with the wasps in her hair? When Laura goes missing, Luke realizes the terrible truth about himself and his power. His decision is a matter of life and death, and he will have to run faster than fire. 

Hello, Cat and thank you for letting me invade your blog today! You’ve asked me to talk about the theme of guilt in MONDAYS ARE RED. Yes, it’s a major theme. But then I thought about my other books and realised that guilt is a pretty major theme in most of them! Yikes. I’d better keep the psychoanalysts away… Oh, and to be clear: I’m talking about the emotion of guilt, not the factual aspect of whether an accused person is guilty of the crime. It’s the emotion that’s far more interesting. 

In Mondays are Red, Luke’s feeling of guilt comes from the way he abuses the absolute power he develops after a coma, led into temptation by a devil-like creature in his mind. Once he discovers the nasty side of himself that he didn’t know existed, it rocks him. In WASTED, my latest novel, Jack’s guilt is surely undeserved. He has twice caused the death of his mother, but through pure bad luck, albeit that the deaths would not have occurred if he hadn’t been there. Subconsciously, he is altered by this guilt. In BRUTAL EYES, the novel I’m currently writing, Joe is guilty, in every sense – he’s killed a man. And he knows that he can only live with himself – or live at all – if he atones. 

Why does guilt work so well in fiction? I think guilt is one of the most awful feelings. I assure you I haven’t done anything major to be ashamed of, but I have an imagination! I’d rather be victim than guilty party. Unless we’re perfect – and I’m far from it - we’ve all felt a bit ashamed, so we can imagine what huge shame must feel like. It would keep you awake at night, gnaw away at you, damage your self-esteem. So, there we’ve got an emotional pull for a novel – something that affects the main character and also makes us empathise with them. We’ve also got motivation for the character to do something stupid – because guilt can drive people to cover up, and that can have bad consequences. Or it can drive them to atone. So guilt can be a motivator for bad or good, and it’s such a powerful emotion that it can lead to extreme actions. Useful in a novel! 

In Mondays are Red, Luke says, “However much of it was my fault, it didn’t matter any more because I had made it right in the end.” Joe in Brutal Eyes learns something different about guilt: you have to do more than pay for it; you have to let it change you. Luke and Joe discover that you can move on from anything. Luke says, “Grandpa told me that we have space in our brains to store some radioactive waste quite safely. Eventually it loses all its poison. You grow away from it, start again.”
It certainly provides great scope for novels. I’m sure everyone can think of novels with guilt as their core, but my favourite example is ATONEMENT by Ian McEwan. And TORN is about guilt, isn’t it? Which reminds me, must go and buy it… 

Thank you for having me! I’d love to hear other readers or writers thoughts about guilt. (In fiction, I mean – no confessions please!)

Thanks for a fascinating post, Nicola! Guilt is one of my very favourite things to write about and to read about. So, lovely readers, what do you think about guilt? Any favourite guilt-ridden books you'd like to recommend?

1 comment:

  1. Cat, thanks so much for hosting me here. I'm now off to ask your guilt question on Twitter. (People originally answered ON twitter, which defeated the point a bit!)