The Judas Scar came out on May 1st and since then I have answered lots of questions on it, written blog posts and a few articles, and seen many (lovely) reviews. Lots has been said on the dark themes that run through it – the bullying, the repercussions of childhood trauma on adulthood, the effects of betrayal, of desire, the reasoning that every experience we have as individuals will impact us in some way or another, the responsibilities and feelings entwined in our relationships and the fine emotional tightrope we walk every time we give our heart to another. But a few days ago I read a wonderfully considered and thoughtful review by Kate on Thin Ice. She reviewed the book as part of the Britmums Book Club. Her comments are incredibly generous and she seemed to ‘get’ the book in a way that touched me. One of the points she made is something I haven’t discussed much, but was one of the inspiration points I had when developing the story all those months ago.
It’s the idea that nowadays social media allows us the ability to retrace people from our pasts that a decade ago we would have had difficulty finding. Therefore, by the powers of Google search, LinkedIn, Twitter (etc, etc) and, of course, Facebook we are all able to punch in the names of those people we drifted away from and find out what they’re up to, who they married, where they live, how many children they have… What’s more, due to the nature of the internet and social media, it is perfectly possible to do this in secret. Your ex-boyfriend from 1992 need never know you check out his Instagram feed every day, that you think his wife looks a bit dull, that his children aren’t that pretty, that he lives in the city but you know he always wanted to live by the sea and so on. Anonymity and advanced search capabilities mean stalking is a piece of cake. In The Judas Scar two boys who lost contact at fourteen under difficult circumstances are thrown together, apparently by chance. The past comes crashing down on top of the characters in the book when Will, one of the now grown up boys, uses Facebook to make contact with the boy from school who bullied them. This sets off a chain of events that doesn’t end well. When it comes to contacting blasts from the past there is always the flip side, of course, the stuff, perhaps, of romance novels, where social media allows star-crossed lovers their second chance, or long-lost friends link up and restart their relationship where it left off. And we all know the joy social media brings when it allows you to have a jolly good snoop around the photo albums of old friends and acquaintances, and even – one of my favourite things – sharing photographs from our youth that would otherwise remain in memory boxes beneath a thousand beds. But is this a good idea? Is the past best left well-alone? Is the risk worthwhile? Is it worth reopening scars, revisiting the intoxicating memories of your first love, facing those demons that were best left sleeping, tainting the present with the past? It’s an area that fascinates me. We know the sensible thing to do is leave well alone but, oh, it’s just so tempting, that Facebook search box staring you in the face…
So while The Judas Scar is indeed a story of betrayal, guilt, desire and revenge, it is also, perhaps, a cautionary tale about social media and the opportunity it gives us to rake up a past that would be better off left exactly where it is, in the past.
(photos: Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_grufnar’>grufnar / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_dirkercken’>dirkercken / 123RF Stock Photo</a>)