I’m delighted to be welcoming Ava Marsh back to Linda’s Book Bag today to celebrate the publication of her latest novel Exposure as I find Ava’s writing utterly thrilling. Exposure was released in e-book and paperback on 16th June 2016 by Transworld Publishing and is available for purchase from Amazon, Waterstones, W H Smith and all good bookshops.
Today, in a special guest blog, Ava is telling us all about damaged and flawed characters
Kitty Sweet isn’t like anyone you’ve ever met before.
She’s an infamous porn star, imprisoned for double murder. As damaged as she is charismatic, as dangerous as she is charming.
But once no different from you or I.
Kitty’s past is full of heartbreak and desperation, of adulation and glamour. Of ruin. She’s descended to an underworld most people can only imagine, and lived to tell the tale . . .
This is her story.
Damaged, Flawed and Dangerous
A Guest Post from Ava Marsh
Years ago I went to see Louis Malle’s film Damage, and was struck by a memorable scene where Juliette Binoche warns her lover Jeremy Irons: ‘Remember, damaged people are dangerous – they know they can survive.’ That line stuck with me. Nothing interests me more than that damage, or the ways it can make my characters dangerous.
No wonder then that my first novel, Untouchable, and my second, recently released Exposure, both have a damaged heroine at their heart. Not that it’s anything new – most novels feature characters who are flawed in some way or another. Life is hard, both off the page and on it, and novelists are in the business of reflecting and amplifying the real world. Moreover, trouble is the DNA of fiction. Tension arises from conflict, and no one comes out of conflict unscathed, so the first job a novelist faces in creating a character is to work out what has gone wrong in their lives and how it has affected them.
Fortunately readers love flawed characters. After all, who wants to read about someone who has it all, who has never put a foot wrong in their lives? Perfect is boring. Perfect is dull and annoying. One reason we devour stories is to see ourselves reflected. We like heroes and heroines who mirror ourselves and our own shortcomings. We want to empathise with a character, her dilemma and her blunders.
But every character, like every real person, is different, and their flaws and damage unique to themselves. Grace, my escort protagonist in Untouchable is damaged by her past – both from the early death of her mother and upbringing by a narcissistic father, but also from the results of her own mistakes. Because Grace made a very big mistake, and she knows it, and much of Untouchable shows the results of a lifestyle she’s using as a kind of self-punishment.
In Exposure, however, Leanne is flawed in ways we only gradually come to understand, and damaged not so much by her childhood as by the porn industry she’s sucked into. Whereas Grace is all too well aware of her shortcomings, and her culpability for what she’s done, Leanne has trouble embracing her true nature. Where Grace is cynical, Leanne is romantic, sometimes sliding into fantasy to avoid facing the truth.
Grace and Leanne embody two different ways of dealing with internal stress, and two very different ways of reacting to the situations they find themselves in. But both are damaged, and have survived – and that’s what makes them dangerous.
About Ava Marsh
Ava Marsh grew up in Margate, Kent. A former broadsheet journalist, she now works freelance in the charity sector and writes novels.
Ava lives in Battersea, London. Her hobbies include running, kayaking and photography.