As part of the Northern Heat book blog tour, Helene Young has stopped by to chat about a confronting theme she fleshes out in her latest romantic suspense novel, Northern Heat. You can read my review here.
Difficult Themes in Stories by Helene Young
One of the things I love most about writing is being able to bring resilient female characters to life. Many of my girls have non-traditional careers, but that’s because I know women who are currently doing those jobs and excelling at them. It’s important for me to show the strengths and the weaknesses that make them extraordinary, everyday women.
I also like to explore issues that confront them in their lives and their work. Often there’s an underlying personal theme. In Northern Heat it’s domestic violence. That aspect of the story grew out of conversation with a friend. She’s someone I admire enormously, but I had no idea the truth of her private life. It’s easy to think that domestic violence only affects uneducated lower skilled families. It doesn’t. My friend is a professional woman, university educated, with a beautiful son and daughter. Her husband is also a professional man with a busy career and a need to control everything in his life. That need to control consumed him. His rage was contained in public if things weren’t perfect, but not in private.
The relationship was destroying my friend. She no longer recognised the woman looking back at her in the mirror. The bruises and scars were as much emotional as physical, an eroding of her self-esteem, her beliefs, her right to an opinion. I was talking about Northern Heat to a couple of my male colleagues who are in the cut-throat world of Industrial Relations. They were both shocked at the statistics on domestic violence. The younger one accepted that a marriage where a woman had no power, no independence and lived only to keep her husband placated could be damaging. The older one didn’t see it quite that way. There’s a long way to go in educating the whole community that violence in a relationship can take many forms and is unacceptable.
When the violence is physical it’s easier to identify it. The more insidious type is the one that erodes a woman or child’s self-esteem until they are dependent on the perpetrator. It’s all about power.
Leslie Morgan Steiner’s TED talk is worth 16 minutes of your time.
Over the six months when I was writing Northern Heat I was talking at libraries and reading groups. Without exception when I mentioned that my current work-in-progress was about domestic violence, a woman would find me in a quiet time and share her story, show me her bruises, or describe her nightmare. Never have I had so many people volunteer their stories, including sons and daughters who’d struggled to come to terms with their own families.
It was harrowing at times and I found myself crying with them as they relived what they’d been through. And they were united in telling me that their stories needed to be told, that this invisible crime needed to stop.
Rose Batty has done so much to raise the profile of the problem in the year since her son’s death, but the change needs to come from the community, from us. We talk about zero tolerance for speeding on the road or for drink driving. Violence in a relationship is just as damaging to the fabric of our society.
I hope I’ve done justice to the stories that were shared with me. Kristy, Abby and Freya, my characters in the book who are dealing with domestic violence and the aftermath, all draw a little from the resilient, determined brave women who’ve stood up and said, ‘Enough.’
For anyone experiencing domestic or family violence, dial
Lifeline provides crisis support and is available 24 hours a day on
If the situation is life-threatening, please phone 000 immediately
Find Helene at www.heleneyoung.com
Follow on FB at: HeleneYoungAustralianAuthor
On Twitter: @heleneyoung
Or Instagram: heleneyoungauthor
Prize Pack Giveaway!
To celebrate the upcoming release of Helene’s sixth book on 27th May 2015, she’s giving away six prize packs. Four of them are duos of SAFE HARBOUR and NORTHERN HEAT and one major prize is a complete set of her six books. For international readers there is a duo of e-books to be won.
To enter leave a comment here or share the post and/or the trailer on social media site and she’ll double your chances!
Hope to see you through May at the following blogs.
5th May: http://bookdout.wordpress.com
7th May: http://auslit.net
10th May: http://deannasworld1.blogspot.com.au
12th May: http://www.jennjmcleod.com
14th May: http://ausromtoday.com
17th May: https://1girl2manybooks.wordpress.com
19th May: http://writenotereviews.com
28th May: http://australianruralromance.com
31st May: http://talkingbooksblog.net
2nd June: Wrap up and announce the winner on my blog-
Northern Heat – Release date 27th May, 2015