Today I am privilaged to have Saskia Sarginson provide a guest post as part of the Blog Tour in promoting her book, The Other Me. Below, she talks about absent Fathers as a theme of the book. Please do check it out and be sure to pick up a copy of her book.
Like most novelists, I tend to use story to examine different themes in my books, the same ones cropping up again and again. I often write about loss, identity, trust, strangers, and love. Anyone who has read my novels will also notice another thing I’m interested in exploring is father-daughter relationships and absent fathers. In The Twins, the girls have no idea who their father is, guessing, wrongly, that he’s Jim Morrison of The Doors. In Without You, one of the daughters is adopted and never finds out who her real father is. Klaudia, the main protagonist in The Other Me, has a strict and distant father who doesn’t show her any love. Then she discovers his Nazi past. And this shock makes her actively distance herself from him, changing her identity to cut herself off from her background and become Eliza.
Eliza seems to have empowered herself by denying her father, and by inventing a mythical, ideal alternative background. However, when she’s forced to return home and face up to her old self, she finds the painful relationship with her father waiting for her. ‘Eliza’ was a lie, because she can’t ever really run away from who she is. Her problem is that she knows in some deep part of herself that there is something very wrong at the heart of her family. She’s never felt at ease with her father, never felt a connection with him, and this has undermined her sense of self.
I didn’t discover the identity of my own father until I was in my 40’s, and we never met, as he’d recently died. But having some facts about him helped me fill a void that had always existed at my core. Another thing that helped was exploring father-daughter relationships in my fiction, although I’m careful not to write in a directly autobiographical way. (That would inhibit my imagination, and be cruel to the real people in my life.) D.H Lawrence said it’s ‘truth to self’ that counts. So when writing about absent fathers, I try to use the ‘truth’ at the centre of my feelings, exploring ideas relating to this truth through the lives of my fictional characters. This lets me look at my own experience in different ways. It’s a therapeutic process. However, I’ve noticed that my subject matter is changing, and if you can tell the state of a writer’s psychological health by her novels, then perhaps, three novels later, I’m finally coming to terms with my lack of father. In my next novel, The Stranger, the protagonist’s relationship with her father is confined to a brief sub-plot!
ABOUT THE BOOK
Eliza Bennet has the life she’s always dreamed of. She’s who she wants to be, and she’s with the man she loves. But Eliza is living a lie. Her real name is Klaudia Myer. And Klaudia is on the run. She’s escaping her old life, and a terrible secret buried at the heart of her family.
This is the story of Eliza and Klaudia – one girl, two lives and a lie they cannot hide from.
ABOUT SASKIA SARGINSON
Saskia Sarginson was awarded a distinction in her MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway after a BA in English Literature from Cambridge University and a BA in Fashion Design & Communications. Before becoming a full-time author, Saskia’s writing experience included being a health and beauty editor on women’s magazines, a ghost writer for the BBC and Harper Collins and copy-writing and script editing. Saskia grew up in a forest in Suffolk and now lives in South London with her four children. For further information about Saskia visit www.saskiasarginson.co.uk or follow her on Twitter @SaskiaSarginson