I’m delighted this evening to welcome back my friend and fellow Darkstroke author, Alison Knight, to talk about the themes of her latest novel, The Hidden. I can’t wait to read this new book!
Update: I’ve just finished reading it and it’s totally brilliant! Highly recommended 😊.
THURSDAY THEMES with Alison Knight – Living with PTSD
Thank you, Jo, for inviting me to post on your Thursday Themes blog. My latest book, The Hidden, is about two people who have had very different life experiences. They are thrown together by forces beyond their control. The story is set in Montana in 1973, towards the end of the US/Vietnam conflict and the main male character, Jeff, has just returned home, a wounded, traumatised veteran of the war. He finds Faye, a mysterious Englishwoman living in his cabin and refusing to leave.
At first these two characters appear to have nothing in common, other than their affection for Bear, a big black dog. But both are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, even though they don’t realise it. Their traumas were very different, but have the same devastating effects on their lives. In a time when PTSD was only just being recognised and help was rarely available, they can only rely on each other to survive.
How do I know about PTSD? I too am a sufferer. My trauma happened a long time ago, and was largely buried in the back of my mind until it began to bubble to the surface almost two decades later. You can read about the trauma that caused my illness in my novel, Mine. The act of writing Mine actually helped me a great deal to come to terms with what happened and helped reduce my symptoms.
Most people assume that PTSD sufferers have been members of the armed forces, like Jeff – and it’s very common amongst soldiers who served in conflicts around the world. My PTSD was due a childhood trauma. I’ve known other people who have it as a result of an accident, a serious illness, an attack or a loss that they haven’t been able to deal with. There are probably millions of people worldwide who live with nightmares, flashbacks, insomnia, paranoia and out of control emotions without receiving a diagnosis or treatment.
Today, help is readily available and I’m eternally grateful for the therapy and support I’ve received over the years. My PTSD hasn’t entirely gone away – it’s something I’ve learned to live with. But I am now better able to recognise triggers and take steps to control how I respond to them.
Unfortunately, Jeff and Faye live in a time and culture when people were expected to carry on as normal and hide their nightmares and flashbacks from others. Faye see her nightmares of a vicious attack as her punishment for her past crimes (as shown in my other novel, The Legacy). But she recognises the mental pain Jeff is suffering through his nightmares and especially when he has a flashback after a gun is discharged near him. His reaction reminds her of her father’s elderly uncle who suffered badly with what was called Shell Shock after fighting in the First World War.
Jeff and Faye may have been brought together in an unexpected way, but they form an unlikely alliance. They help each other to deal with their PTSD and take tentative steps together towards a better life.
Jo, thank you so much for letting me share this with your readers. Recognising PTSD and providing support to sufferers is something very close to my heart, and that’s why I wanted to write this story about Jeff and Faye.
BLURB FOR THE HIDDEN
Secrets, nightmares, and a big black dog…
Faye has found sanctuary in a simple cabin in the wilds of the Crazy Mountains in Montana with a dog called Bear. She’s a long way from her old life in England. But she knows that one day her peaceful life could be invaded by her enemies, and she keeps her guard up at all times.
Jeff returns home from Vietnam, a wounded, damaged hero, just weeks after his father’s sudden death. He finds hostile, secretive Faye living in his cabin and refusing to leave. The reading of his father’s will adds another layer of mystery to this woman’s presence.
The tension between them grows as Jeff tries to overcome his nightmares and expose Faye’s scars and secrets. The more he learns about her, the more enigmatic she seems.
When her enemies come calling, she needs Jeff to protect her. Can they learn to trust each other? And will Faye ever be safe?
BUY LINK FOR THE HIDDEN: https://mybook.to/thehidden
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY – ALISON KNIGHT
Alison Knight has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between.
In her mid-forties, Alison went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time. Her first book was published a year after she completed her master’s degree.
Alison currently has a trio of novels published by Darkstroke. The first, Mine, is a domestic drama set in 1960s London based on real events in her family. She is the only person who can tell this particular story. Exploring themes of class, ambition and sexual politics, Mine shows how ordinary people can make choices that lead them into extraordinary situations.
The Legacy, a drama set in London in 1969, was inspired by a scene in Mine, and explores how an unexpected legacy can be both a blessing and a curse. The Legacy looks at themes of greed and expectations, and the lengths people will go to when they are desperate.
The Hidden, available from September 2021, is a romantic suspense that picks up the story of one of the characters in The Legacy. Set in Montana in 1973, two wounded, damaged people are forced together, each guarding their secrets. Can they learn to trust each other? And will their nightmares ever end?
Alison teaches creative and life-writing, runs workshops and retreats with Imagine Creative Writing Workshops(www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk) as well as working as a freelance editor. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
She lives in Somerset, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS – ALISON KNIGHT
@Alison_Knight59 on Twitter