Debbie Howells Discusses the Themes and Characters of The Bones of You Transcript
With Rosie’s character, I had an idea of writing what happened to her as her life flashed before her eyes, so that was where it started from. I guess Rosie was a similar age to my daughter at the time, and I very much tried to put myself in her head. You have to try as a writer to put yourself in the head of your characters I think, to be convincing.
I think the pacing of the story was largely dictated by Rosie’s story. It’s all about her. And although that’s said, how events unfolded in the community was told all through Kate’s voice, so Kate’s story had to fit in very much around Rosie’s. And as the writer, I wanted each chapter really to build to a point that left the reader wanting to read on, turn the next page.
My favourite character to write was Rosie because I think her story is one that a lot of people, a suprising number of people, might relate to. Without giving too much away. And it’s a desperately tragic story as well.
When I was writing The Bones of You, I started looking into dysfunctional relationships. And I talked to a lot of people, I read a lot of accounts online, and the thing about this kind of abuse is that it’s not instantly visible to the world, the scars are on the inside. Whatever impression somebody might give you, you never actually know what goes on behind closed doors. And as far as this kind of abuse is concerned, I really wanted to portray it accurately and sensitively, as it remains something that for the large part is very invisible.
If there’s a message in the book, I’m not sure I had a message in mind when I wrote it. I think I wanted perhaps people to think more about the types of abuse that are quite widespread and quite invisible. But perhaps it’s that people are not necessarily what they seem. How well do you really know your next door neighbour? Are they really the person that they come across as? You just don’t know. You can never be sure.
Can I say, Kate’s been slated by some reviewers for being very naive, and I know you’re not supposed to read reviews but I did read a review who said that actually she was very kind and that kindess was – I forget the wording now – a much underrated virtue, or something like that. And Kate actually is just a genuinely concerned kind person who wanted to support a family who were suffering. And I think there are people like that in the world. So to those reviewers who think she’s naive, I think she’s just quite a nice person really. And she just gives an overview of what goes on in the community while Rosie’s murder is being investigated. And it’s the nuances that you perhaps wouldn’t see if it was all about the police investigation. But you’re actually getting the detail, the effect on relationships. And I think this book is very much about relationships.