Elaine Forrestal

Different Worlds

This is Rose de Freycinet, who is a real person, but she lived at the same time as Maeve, who is a fictional character in the novel, Parallel.

Writing a novel with two main characters, and set in two different worlds, was always going to be a challenge, but one I am relishing now.

When my daughter, via her research into our family tree, told me that her own daughter shared a birth date with one of our relatives my immediate reaction was ‘ho hum’. When she told me, however, that the two girls were born exactly two hundred years apart I thought, ‘Oh wow!’ She said to me, ‘There has to be a story there, Mum.’ I thought about it for less than a minute and said, ‘Yes, but I couldn’t write it.’ For one thing I thought it would be too close to home. I would have to distance myself from at least one of the main characters, and that is not how I write. I have to get inside my characters heads. When I do that they tend to take over my life. I didn’t think I could be objective enough. And I didn’t want to offend my daughter, or my grand daughter. I dismissed the idea from my mind and got on with finishing my historical fiction, Life Blood. But once that manuscript began to make its way through the publication process the idea of comparing life in our modern world with life in a small village in the south of England, where our ancestors came from 200 years go, surfaced again. It had obviously taken root in my subconscious and was not about to go anywhere in spite of me trying to push it away. For two or three years it had been waiting in the background, biding its time, nagging occasionally but never going away. Now here I am, totally immersed in the lives of these two characters and amazed by the similarities, as well as the differences, in the way they live their lives.

The French have an expression which, roughly translated, says ‘The more things change, the more they stay the same.’ I am finding so many ways in which this holds true in the two different worlds of Parallel.