Frequently Asked Questions - Looking BackWARNING: These are questions asked by readers of Looking Back. These answers contain spoilers! Make sure that you have read Looking Back before reading this page, so that the plot is not revealed to you prematurely :)
Kath's Time with the Pirates
I went back and forth in regards to just what happened to Kath when she was with the pirates. In some versions she was beaten but not raped. In other versions she was raped. I am very sensitive about rape, and all of my proceeds from my books go to support battered women. So I never want to include rape as a gratuitous plot device. This is the fifth medieval book I have published, and out of the four previous novels, the heroines were virgins when they married their true love. So Looking Back's plot was a divergence from that more gentle style and I gave it in depth thought.
In the end I included the rape because so many women face violence in their lives. Some statistics show that in the US alone around 20% of all women have experienced an attempted or successful rape assault. I wanted to provide those women a heroine who represented their hurdles. I wanted to let these women know that it is OK to take a long while to recover, and that they should find people who support and love them along that path. Unlike other novels which often make rape seem almost "fun", I wanted to present rape as the traumatic situation it is, one the heroine took a while with a supporting community to heal from.
Kath's rape then led to the second challenge - how would Roger handle the situation? This is a challenge that many women who have been assaulted face. How do they present themselves to future partners? How do they deal with intimacy again? I wanted to convey the message that a hero, a man worthy of love, will be supportive and understanding. He will realize that the woman was the victim and she deserves every ounce of love and affection. Her purity - in the sense of who she has chosen to give her heart to - is intact and is the most precious gift she has.
Kath and Roger not Recognizing Each Other
One reviewer found it inconceivable that Kath and Roger would not recognize each other after six years, even with quite different hairstyles and clothing. She stated she would recognize someone even twenty years later in that situation.
I try to make each of my characters unique, with their own skills and flaws. In this case, yes, the characters are poor with facial recognition. I will admit here that I personally am poor with faces. Yes, there are definitely people in my own life who, after I went away to college (so, only a few years), I didn't quite recognize any more even with their normal hairstyle. If they changed their hairstyle and clothing drastically, I wouldn't recognize them at all.
Nowadays, even people I've known and been friends with for years, if I encounter them in a new situation, I often don't recognize them. Or if I'm in a restaurant looking for someone I'm meeting there, I'll confuse strangers with them.
So that is what I chose to "burden" these characters with. It sounds like, to readers who have excellent recall, I didn't convey it well enough. If you are in that situation and have any suggestions on how to improve that, I'm happy to revise it.
I would love your feedback on the characters and storyline!
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