Sunday 21 June 2020

The Man Behind Closed Doors by Maria Frankland BLOG TOUR @writermaria_f #TheManBehindClosedDoors @RandomTTours #GuestPost

What could be so bad that a six-year-old stops talking?

Domestic violence isn't only perpetrated by men. Ask Paul Jackson who is on remand, accused of stabbing his wife, Michelle.

As he reveals his reality behind their troubled marriage, it seems that only his six-year-old knows what really happened. But she's trapped in her own world of silence.

The Man Behind Close Doors by Maria Frankland was published in May this year. As part of the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour I am delighted to share a guest post from the author with you today.

Guest Post from Maria Frankland

I would like to say a huge thank you to Anne Cater, firstly for inviting me to be a guest on her brilliant blog, and also for putting together another exciting book blog tour for me. I have been following her blog for some months, and as a fairly new published novelist, it is a wonderful opportunity to be situated here, amongst authors who I have read and followed for years.

I am going to talk about something I have not discussed before: the inspiration behind my latest novel, ‘The Man Behind Closed Doors,’ a book that has been around eight years in the making because it was so difficult to write. 

This was not just down to the amount of research that had to be carried out in terms of police, court and prison procedure but because of the amount of personal experience it was necessary to draw on to bring the situations to life effectively.

In 2013, I escaped a toxic and unhappy marriage and had already begun writing ‘The Man Behind Closed Doors’ as a kind of ‘therapy’ to pour my difficult circumstances into.  However, I hid the examples of my marital ordeals by inventing characters to live them out and also by swapping the genders around, so the man was the character bearing the brunt of the situation instead of the woman. The personal experiences were then ‘hung’ onto the fictional story arc I created.

Married to someone who thought my writing was ‘a complete waste of time,’ meant that the early draft of this novel was written in secret.  An early rejection from a literary agent cited one of the reasons for not taking it forward was that the protagonist was ‘too feminine’ and therefore not realistic – no surprise really! 

One of the first things I did after leaving my marriage was to enrol onto the MA in Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University where I was able to hone my writing craft a little more and I continued working on ‘The Man Behind Closed Doors.’

Several more rejections led to me squirrelling it away until it was eventually shortlisted into the top ten for an international novel prize in 2016.  (Luke Bitmead/Legend Press.)  I then took part in ‘The Dragon’s Pen’ at Harrogate Crime Writer’s Festival in 2017 and two publishers asked to see it. 

That was as far as it went, but finally, I knew my novel had ‘legs.’  Spurred on by these ‘near misses,’ I worked and re-worked it, edited and edited some more, and it’s had what feels like a million other pairs of eyes on it to bring it to this ‘ book launch’ point.  In the meantime, I’ve published two other novels, even though ‘The Man Behind Closed Doors,’ is technically my first one.

It tells two stories concurrently, the ongoing incarceration of Paul, arrested then remanded, suspected of stabbing his wife Michelle.  Then through flashback writing, the story of their toxic relationship is revealed.  The reader is made aware that there are several other possibilities of who might have hated Michelle enough so take a knife to her, but it seems only their six-year-old daughter knows the truth.  And she, so traumatised by what she has lived through, has gone mute.

I believe this novel is relevant right now.  In this current era of ‘lockdown,’  there are many adults and children, trapped behind closed doors, enduring domestic abuse at the hands of a partner,  My novel deals with this abuse in all its forms, physical, mental, verbal, psychological, financial, sexual and coercive control.

Seven years on from my marriage break up, I married a wonderful man on Valentine’s Day, and we were lucky enough to have our wedding before the Coronovirus situation took hold. 

Throughout lockdown though, my thoughts have frequently turned to the vulnerable victims of domestic abuse out there, more imprisoned than they ever have been.  There has been substantial mention of their plight in the media, but I have noticed that the focus seems to be on women and children, with little mention of men, some of whom may also be suffering within an abusive relationship at this time.

I have felt so moved by thinking about it, that my husband and I decided to do a ‘garden marathon’ (half a marathon each) which took us all afternoon and evening, running around the perimeter of our modest garden! 

I wanted to raise money for a domestic abuse charity.  However, I found the charities nominated in partnership with JustGiving at this time, were mainly geared towards women, so we ran the marathon and raised the money for Women’s Aid.

But this also, made me think of just how my book might raise some further awareness out there – that men too, can be victims.  As well as being pulled into the twofold drama of the story, I hope that ‘The Man Behind Closed Doors’ will also offer readers some insight into what subtle signs of abuse to look out for, in both women and men.

Maria Frankland's life began at 40 when she escaped an unhappy marriage and began making a living from her own writing and becoming a teacher of creative writing.

The rich tapestry of life with all its turbulent times has enabled her to pour experience, angst and lessons learned into the writing of her novels and poetry.

She recognises that the darkest places can exist within family relationships and this is reflected in the domestic thrillers she writes.

She is a 'born 'n' bred' Yorkshirewoman, a mother of two and has recently found her own 'happy ever after' after marrying again.

Still in her forties, she is now going to dedicate the rest of her working life to writing books and inspiring other writers to also achieve their dreams too!

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