As writers, it is truly wonderful to see links between our own work and ‘the spirit of the age’ because it means we must be ‘on message’ about the kind of issues preoccupying readers and viewers. Well, I certainly believe this and so I was intrigued when to learn about Showtime’s new drama, ‘The Affair’.
Starring the ever-gorgeous Dominic West and Ruth Wilson, who I loved as Jane Eyre in 2006, this series is billed as ‘At once deeply observed and intriguingly elusive’, one that ‘explores the emotional effects of an extramarital relationship.’ But its difference lies in its dual point of view. As co-creator, Sarah Treem, says, ‘We remember ourselves as witnesses in our lives, and … other people as actors’, so the series aims to tackle the different realities we all manage to spin around ourselves. It also aims to tackle that thorny question of the secrets we keep even from ourselves.
And yes, these are the very themes I hope my novel ‘The Perfect Affair‘ confronts too: it is told from multi points of view, it deals with feelings that are hard to define, it travels the liminal space between right and wrong and it gives to its characters secret selves they struggle to understand and accept. So, that’s one tick in the box for me, yes?!
However, I’ve also been seeing trailers for the new cinema weepie, ‘The Best of Me’. This is described as an ‘epic love story’ which ‘captures the enduring power of our first true love, and the wrenching choices we face when confronted with elusive second chances.’ Very much like my novel, ‘The Moment’ then?
Set over the course of one day, my book follows two people who meet again after twenty-five years, they spend a few moments together, then part only to spend the day struggling to come to terms with their separate versions of what broke them up years before and to acknowledge the choices they’ve each made that have kept them apart since. They plan to meet again that evening but, for both, this is a risk, neither can know what may happen should they do so.
So, that’s another tick in the box for me, yes? I hope so, but what this exercise has also shown me is it’s not just serendipity that’s revealed these connections but that such themes are in fact universal: forbidden love, moral dilemmas, the huge ‘What If’ question that sits behind each and every one of us pervade our lives now, have always done so and will always do so and it is my privilege as a writer to get the chance to tap into the zeitgeist, breathe these conflicts into my characters and offer them with my love to my readers.