Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Right Connection

Laura E James talks about the theme of her novel, Follow Me, Follow You

Thanks to a fantastic Julie Cohen 2013 RNA Conference workshop on theme, I realised my second Choc Lit novel, Follow Me, Follow You, is about reconnecting. Connection is a universal human need, which most likely took root in the days when hunting for food required teamwork ‒ where safety in numbers ensured mankind’s survival. A group can provide protection for the individual and share the workload.

I loved team sports when I was at school – I wasn’t naturally athletic, but I enjoyed the interaction and the process of working towards a common goal. To celebrate a win or commiserate over a loss with others is emotionally more satisfying and healing than whooping or crying alone. Being part of the team gave me a sense of belonging; a sense of being part of something greater than just me. And it gave me a sense of acceptance. This is what Victoria Noble, the heroine in Follow Me, Follow You, is missing. A divorced mother to four-year-old Seth, with whom she has a difficult relationship, and let down by the men in her life, she seeks sanctuary in her virtual world of computers. At work she doesn’t suffer the risk of emotional rejection, as the only connections she has to make are professional, but it’s here she unintentionally fulfils her basic human need of being part of the bigger picture.

However, what strikes me about Victoria is her obvious need to reconnect with the real world ‒ with real people. Her sanctuary, where she escapes the harsh realities of life, is a business she’s built centred on social media. EweSpeak is the number one social networking site, with all sorts of people interacting with one another. Victoria rarely engages with her flock, but she facilitates others to do so.

When we first meet Victoria, she’s beginning to understand the importance of the human connection and wants to fix the broken bond between her and Seth. The problem is she doesn’t know where to
Seth on Chesil Beach
start. ‘
The fact he provoked such intense feelings within her was proof she loved him. Wasn’t it? The question banged around her sore head. She wanted love to flow through her veins. She wanted it to flood her heart and be her life force, but it was hard with a child who communicated with words of hatred.

To secure and nurture the connection, interaction is required, which means both parties need to be open to the idea. To make matters worse, Seth connects with others with astonishing ease. And then there’s a romantic connection with her first love, Chris Frampton, Victoria has to address …

She has a long journey ahead, and she has no idea if she’s taking the correct path. She knows from past experience rejection can lead to negative emotions ‒ anxiety and poor self-esteem, to name two. It’s a tough call.

To my mind the importance is not in how we make those connections, but in the fact we have the courage to pursue them. The human race needs to belong to survive. I am lucky. I have found my place in the world. I have established connections that make me happy. I am secure. I am accepted for who I am, along with my disabilities, limitations and funny ways. I love and I am loved. And for that, I shall be eternally grateful and thankful.

Follow Me, Follow You is available on all major digital platforms and as a paperback.

Laura is married and has two children. She lives in Dorset, but spent her formative years in Watford, a brief train ride away from the bright lights of London. Here she indulged her love of live music, and, following a spectacular Stevie Nicks gig, decided to take up singing, a passion that scored her second place in a national competition.
Laura is a graduate of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme, a member of her local writing group, Off The Cuff, and an editor of the popular Romaniacs blog.
She was runner-up twice in the Choc Lit Short Story competitions. Her story Bitter Sweet appears in the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Anthology. Truth or
Dare?, Laura’s debut novel, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction Best Romantic eBook 2013 and the 2014 Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Award. Follow me, follow you is Laura’s first Choc Lit novel published in paperback.


Thank you for joining us today, Laura

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Laura E. James said...

Thank you for having me here today :-)

angela britnell said...

Interesting post, Laura. I often worry that's what's missing today with so many young people connecting more through social media than face to face.

Wendy's Writing said...

Making connections is so important - especially for a writer. Thanks for an interesting post, Laura.

Laura E. James said...

Thank you, Angela. Messaging does become a habit, and one of which I'm guilty, but it's fab when used in a positive fashion.
Nothing quite like a chat in person or on the phone, though :-)

Appreciate the comment, Wendy. Thank you. I like some quiet time, I always have, but I need my family and friends - I value them greatly and try desperately to not take them for granted. Not sure I always succeed ... :-)