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April Book Club Choice

Objects of Desire by C J Emerson

Cover of Objects of Desire

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Shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Award, this dark and disquietening thriller touches on themes of indentity, deceit, vulnerability and isolation.
When social worker, Jess Chadwick, moves from London to the Welsh borders, she hoped to leave her harrowing cases behind her. But she soon gets news that the body of a young boy she was supposed to be protecting has been found in the woods close to her home. As her professional life gets harder to deal with, she is targeted by a mysterious stalker who starts hacking into her website and invading her privacy at home. With reason to suspect that the two events are connected, she is forced to come to terms with her own past and see herself slowly move from protector to victim.

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Author Q&A

Q. Why did you choose to write about child abuse and abduction?
Nelly B., Carlisle

A. My partner was an independent social worker specialising in Children and Families. Through her work and the public court cases associated with some cases I became aware of the traumatic lives of some children whose suffering matched or exceeded that of the characters in 'Objects of Desire'.

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Q. Did you find it difficult to write about such a hard reality?
P Clarke, London

A. To be honest, yes. There were some passages that left me upset and in tears, but it felt necessary to write them. As a writer I think it important not to shy away from difficult subjects. At the same time I tried not to write anything that could be seen as gratuitous – there were passages in original drafts of the book that I cut from the final version because I felt that they were too disturbing in a way that was not entirely justified in the context of the whole book.

Q. Did you speak to social workers and people involved in child murders for your research? What aspects of Jess’ character are moulded on the character traits of real people in that line of work, if any?
Susannah Westcott, London

A. Obviously I was able to speak to my partner who, as a social worker with many years experience in this area, was able to give to incredibly valuable background information and to check my facts. I met and spoke with her colleagues, including some from the police, who were also working in this area. Without their help it would have been impossible to write the book. As far as Jess’s character is concerned; there are aspects of her background which are based on real people, and her care and hard work on behalf of her clients was matched by almost all of the social workers that I have met - in no way did they match the caricatures that one sometimes reads about in the press. Having said that, she is a fictional character who I used to develop the theme of what it means to be a person, and what it means to construct an artificial personality…

Q. Did you plan to make Jess a lesbian from the outset or did that idea develop later?
F Brown, London

A. No, not at all. Her character changed dramatically as the story developed, and the relationship with Pav grew organically out of the events in the book. It is just one aspect of her personality, and not the most important. In a way both Jess and I realised something about her as the story progressed – perhaps mirroring what happens in real life; we gradually discover aspects of our own characters which, perhaps, we have subconsciously tried to hide or deny. Fulfilment comes, as with Jess, when the whole character is acknowledged.

Q. Where and what time of day/night do you write your books?
Leslie Madisson, Cardiff

A. I’m very boring. I start at around 9.30 in the, morning after I’ve walked the dogs, and I finish at around 4.00pm in the afternoon. Having said that, the end result of all those hours can vary dramatically – sometimes there can be a fresh three thousand words at the end of the afternoon, at other times there may be little more than a sentence which never makes it into the final cut. Sometimes all I’ll do is make notes on future scenes or narrative threads, or try a different ‘voice’ for a character. The main thing is to write every day if possible, to keep a sense of momentum.

Q. I like listening to music whilst I read. If you had to give a soundtrack to your book what would it be?
Pattie Bairn, Monmouth

A. I listen to music too, but it always varies depending on my mood. I can’t have words while I’m writing so it tends to be chamber music – Bach, Beethoven, or jazz – Miles Davis, Jan Garbarek, Charles Mingus. As for the soundtrack to the book – that’s a hard one. Some passages at least would have Jacques Brel (or Scott Walker singing Brel) – not too fashionable but full of the strong emotions that went into the writing.


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