Article published on July 12, 2016.
Wendy Walker retraces her steps to work out how she got here!
I have been on an incredible journey! I started writing seventeen years ago while I was at home raising my children and I never gave up the dream of making it my career one day. When my boys were all in school full time, I went back to work as a lawyer. But I told my sons that it was important to always have a dream, even while doing the responsible thing. So I kept writing, and working, and eventually my agent encouraged me to write a story I had been sitting on for almost five years. It involved memory science and the use of drugs to erase traumas. Once I got started, everything fell into place. Jenny. Tom. Charlotte. Sean. And, of course, Dr. Forrester. I wrote All Is Not Forgotten in about ten weeks!
When I sat down to write this novel, I thought very carefully about how I could avoid writing something too familiar in the insanely popular genre of psychological thrillers. So I focused on a real world controversial issue. After researching memory science, it was very clear to me that we will be faced with decisions about treating our traumas and being able to choose, not only to lessen their emotional impact, but to forget or alter their facts. Every one of us can imagine having to make this choice – either for ourselves or for a loved one, a child.
I also wanted to create a totally unique structure for the narrative. I designed it to move in different directions, backwards and forwards and sideways, but in a fluid, conversational way. It was my goal to grab the reader, make him or her stop everything else, put away computers and phones and televisions, and focus on the characters and the story and emotions they contain. I think we are moving, as a world culture, toward more complex and non-linear forms of entertainment. Because of the overwhelming number of devices and applications, we often have numerous inputs running all at once. We can follow them all if they are simple and moving in a straight line. But I think this takes away from the pleasure of certain types of entertainment, such as television drama, film and books. Most of us want to be so engrossed in a story that we live and breathe it and forget our own lives. Entertainment is about escaping and feeling things we don’t normally feel. All Is Not Forgotten attempts to create that feeling of total escape by telling the story in a way that is new, but that feels as seamless as an engrossing conversation with a friend.
I hope I got it right! And I am so glad that my children may get to see my dream come true (fingers crossed) so that they will believe what I told them about having dreams and never giving up.
All Is Not Forgotten is out on 14th July (HQ, £12.99)
SECOND OPINION: Blackwater by James Henry