“Though it’s true the night has a thouasnd eyes tonight they might as well all have been blind. For tonight would live on, yet with the shifting sands of time offer no cure for a broken heart or mind.”
After reading about a mass horse mutilation in The Times: November 2005 by unknown assailants I dwelt on the offence and the likely offender. The incident had raised psychological and sexual issues as well as the current criminological research, which confirms the connection between cruelty to animals and children.
Zowie Darrow, known as “Zogger”, is the heroine. It had to be a woman due to the nature of the story and the emotional osmosis that only women feel and understand.
Her strength and weakness sprung from the same source. Zogger had the insight so that she “Saw deep in the eyes of the animals and the human soul look out upon me.” So when the verdict was delivered it was as disastrous for her as if The Moors Murderers had escaped their deserts. Worse, the act that primed her mind was when the acquitted defendants called her name and re-enacted the death of Molly to mock her in the Court Foyer. At that precise moment all their lives were intertwined and changed forever.
I did not want to write the story as a simple tale of conflict and resolution that left the reader with a satisfied mind. I wanted to explore difficult areas of morality. Many great books have at their core a lesson that life is often impure and rarely simple.
I developed that theme for at heart animal rights is concerned with the immorality of speciesism. That is inextricably linked with justice as we discriminate against those who are “different” according to our own prejudice and power.
Zogger understood all too well the ideas Singer postulated were unpalatable truths for most humans. It was the reason she adopted the principles previously espoused by Nelson Mandela. Mandela chose violence over silence; Zogger used his revolutionary zeal to persuade the band to follow in his footsteps.
It is a miscarriage of justice for an innocent man to be convicted of any offence, no matter how serious or seemingly trivial. Yet it is equally a miscarriage of justice for three guilty men to be acquitted.
She is stricken with a personal dilemma because the moment she receives the brief she loses her professional objectivity. Her compass is her prejudice.
When they are acquitted she has a moral dilemma. At the time her life in law has gone stale. She is close to another breakdown and is "Bored by burglars and buggers.”
The pejorative use of language to personify women as animals justifies bad behaviour. It is why the thugs re-enacted the death of Molly as a threat to Zogger. It communicated to her their hatred for her. Hence it caused the reciprocity of hate in her.
I needed a character with a strong sense of morality, driven with fervour for a cause she was willing to die for, if she had to make that choice.
Zogger is aware in every sense that she is playing with fire. There is a dichotomy, which needs a resolution, as the defendants are intent on using strategies to avoid justice, aided and abetted by a crooked lawyer. The prosecution have to cope with honest policeman who have grown cynical because criminals constantly escaping justice grinds them down.
Zogger has to use her talent to ensure justice is done.
When she fails it is one blow too many for her fragile mind. It serves as traumatic reminder of her own past. Her crisis is magnified.
Although the novel is within the crime genre I have no interest in the straightforward detective story. My aim was to avoid the formulaic and prosaic novel-by-numbers approach. My intention is to explore the concepts of good and evil so as to engage the reader on their own moral journey.
When Toni Morrison was asked what she wanted to from her work she answered…. “How to handle it so the reader is only aware of the rabbit that comes out of the hat and doesn’t see the false bottom.”
Strangely when Anne Sexton was asked the same question she replied… “Courage, of course. That’s the most important ingredient.”
My novel resonates with Our fate and fortune and future will be forged be the last moral crusade “questioning of identity” that the novel needs in the 21st century. It is of and for our times.
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