Greetings readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors and welcome to The ToiBox of Words. I’m your host Toi Thomas, author of Eternal Curse, and today I’m sharing a special interview with author, Adrian Heflin, about his fiction book entitled, Lady of the Manor. Enjoy!
Where did the idea for Lady of the Manor come from?
The inspiration for Lady of the Manor came from a previously terminated relationship with a woman who was a victim of child abuse. The damage caused by this traumatic childhood led her to believe that she can’t trust any man, including me. After the breakup, I began thinking about how lives are altered even years after the abuse has stopped. During a phone conversation with her, I began to consider the idea of a book about the life of a victim after the abuse. I thought the story would be much more conflicting and compelling to readers if the antagonist/abuser was a female. Once I developed the two main characters, I spent weeks in research and development of the setting, plot, supporting characters, and chapter organization before I wrote the first word.
How did the title of this book come about?
With my main character being named Rosemary Creek, I originally wanted to call the book, Cold Creek Manor. But, that name sounded very familiar to me. After a quick internet search, I realized I needed a new title. I wanted to keep the word manor in the title and another search with that keyword in mind brought up the title, lady of the manor. I looked up its definition and thought it was perfect.
What genre is this book and why did you choose to make it so?
I consider this novel a drama or family saga. This book follows the story of a manipulative woman and the family that she antagonizes under her own roof. I chose to write a story that interested me and this is the category in which it fell.
What would you say is the overall message or the theme of this book?
I want people to understand that all victims of similar trauma do not respond the same way. Some become abusers or alcoholics as adults. Many victims suffer clinical depression all their lives. Still, others seem to recover and live normal lives. I hate when one victim tells another, “that happened years ago you should have been moved on like me”. We all don’t work on the same time table, emotionally. I believe we all have to be patient with one another and remember that the way we treat or mistreat people has long lasting and far reaching consequences.
Tell me about the experience of writing this book; how long did it take.
It took me nearly to years from the time the idea came to me until the time that the editing process was complete. Once I knew what I wanted the story to be about it took six weeks of research and development about Savannah, the year 1958, the vernacular of that decade. I organized the events into order and divided them into chapters evenly so that I knew what and when I wanted anything to happen. Writing the story was so simple because I knew exactly where I wanted to go and my deviant mind added in a few twists and turns.
Tell me about the main storyline within this book.
The main storyline is centered around a sadistic, abusive mother and the grown son who still lives with her along with his wife and five children. They have to deal with living beneath the same roof with this callous woman. Tension and conflict overflows between so many family members, but the Lady of the Manor is the root of all their problems.
Who is the protagonist of this story?
Richard Creek is the protagonist of this novel. He is the victim of his mother’s child abuse as well as the emotional and mental distress she inflicted on him. He is a man who has let the fear of his abuser control his every move. Richard has to decide if he can continue to allow the life of his family to be destroyed by his mother. He is the one who can set them all free from misery.
Who is the antagonist of this story?
Rosemary Creek is the antagonist of our tale. She is vindictive, malicious, and spiteful woman. She hates and misuses anyone she can, except her old friend, Pop Barnes. A bitterness has grown in her over the years because she can’t get the one thing she wants. She will spend the summer of 1958 manipulating and scheming until Richard allows her to touch him once again.
What is the major conflict in this story?
How do you live when your greatest enemy lives within your four walls? You don’t. Richard has been terrorized by his mother all his life and he has to find the courage to get away from her or get rid of her. As his family continually unravels, he feels the pressure from them to make a decision. Unfortunately, it may take tragedy to finally give him the strength to do what needs to be done.
Where and when is this story taking place?
This story takes place in Savannah, Georgia during the summer of 1958. The heat is beginning to rise, as well as the tension in Creek Manor. When they aren’t hanging around the house, our characters can be found at Barnes Market or partying the night away at Spunky’s. Occasionally, a visitor makes his or her way up from Pin Point Place, a nearby and predominantly African American community. In a time before cameras were everywhere, no one sees what goes on behind the closed doors of Creek Manor. But, everyone has an idea.
Who is your favorite character in this book?
Although I enjoyed creating the dialogue for Caruthers more than any other character, Rosemary is my favorite. As a shy person, I envy her ability to say whatever to whomever without concern for any consequences. Even though she appears to be strong, she is one of the most vulnerable characters of them all. Despite the likelihood that people will hate everything she stands for and everything she puts her family through, they will love her quick wit and sharp tongue.
Are there elements of your personality or life experiences in this book?
Every character I create has some of my personality within them. I have always been shy and timid like Richard, but not to that extent. The emotional distress that Hilary suffers is a direct reflection on my personal battle with clinical depression. I have battled thoughts of suicide on many nights. But, I don’t have any of my own life in the actual experiences of this book which forced me to really use my imagination and creativity.
What is one thing from this book you wish was real or could happen to you?
In a novel that deals with abuse, death, and violence, it is very difficult to select something that I would wish to be real. I would love it if every victim could feel the relief that Richard felt in the end. Many people never see their abusers brought to justice. I hope this book will provide a voice to those who never found the courage to reveal their own antagonists.
What is something you wish wasn’t real and hope doesn’t happen to you?
I wish that the abuse was just a story. But, I know it’s something that’s real and happens to children every day. Often, it is a secret that they take to their graves for fear of their abusers and society. It’s sad that anyone feels they have a right to take the innocence of a child. I know of many friends and relatives who have experienced this and my heart goes out to them continually. Many readers have confessed to me that they have been in Richard’s shoes and I’m the first person they’ve ever told. I pray that my children never have to know such pain.
Let’s say your book is being turned into a feature length film; quick- cast the main two characters and pick a theme song or score.
I can think of no one else that I would rather play Rosemary than Meryl Streep. She could capture that character like no other. John Cusack as Richard Creek. In the Still of the Night – Five Satins.
Okay readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. To obtain your copy of Lady of the Manor, please visit the links provided.
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