‘I’ve been betrayed by people a few times, and it hurts’ – In conversation with Lesley Pearse on her new novel, Betrayal
More about the book!
Lesley Pearse worked her way through a number of jobs, including nanny, bunny girl, dressmaker and full-time mother before, at the age of 49, she became a published writer.
With her new book, Betrayal, hitting shelves, Pearse chats about the book and the act of betrayal.
Was there a specific moment that sparked the idea for this book? Where did the idea come from?
I’ve been betrayed by people a few times, and it hurts. You rarely see it coming which makes it such a shock. But the book is not my story, whether it is the man in your life cheating on you, a a good friend passing on your innermost secrets, or a close relative stealing from you, it’s equally bad.
What is it that draws you to writing about domestic life, and the secrets it may harbour?
It’s what I know, I’ve experienced brutality, poverty, abandonment, and success, and of course joy and love. So I write from the heart
Your characters are so convincing that the reader might be inclined to think that you are writing from experience. How do you manage to write characters so convincingly?
I have experienced nasty stuff, but I don’t put any of those incidents in my books. It has made me wiser about people, intrigued by them too. I study them. But you don’t have to kill someone to get a very good idea how it will feel.
What is your secret to creating suspense in your books?
I don’t have a secret exactly, its more living the moment I’m writing about, thinking about each of the senses, what I can see, smell, taste. Can I put an edge onto it to make it scarier. I like having characters who aren’t what they seem. That can create suspense too.
Who is your favourite character in the book, and why?
I confess I like writing about nasty people, its fun. And giving them their comeuppance. I also enjoy flawed characters, after all most of us have a flaw. Many of the people in Betrayal are flawed, or damaged. So I enjoyed George, the smarmy, well bred estate agent, who does something unspeakable. But overall, my absolute favorite was Ollie. Such a kind, sensitive boy, the sort of son we all wish for ourselves. He took command at one point, unasked, and I loved him even more.
You tackle some hard subjects in the book. What was your thinking behind putting these characters in their specific situations?
If all the characters led a blameless life of comfort, that would be dull reading. I believe people like to be taken out of their own lives and into another. If that one is bad, then perhaps they feel glad their own life is safe and normal.
What are you hoping to convey with Betrayal?
That people can escape a bad and troubled life. You can run away and start again; I’ve done that several times in my life. But I think my mind compass always directs my readers to the importance of love and happiness, which I think is the Holy Grail. I find people who are living half-lives, disappointed that there’s isn’t what they hoped for, become bitter and critical of others. I say, ‘Be Brave’, reach out for what and who you want.
Betrayal is out now.
This article was originally published in The Penguin Post, a magazine about books for book lovers from Penguin Random House South Africa.
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