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The Redemption Of Writing:
Is Writing A Healer?
A Guest Post By Emma Kavanagh

As part of the publisher (thanks to Philippa Cotton, Press Officer for Cornerstone Publishing) organised blog tour, announcing the release of Hidden, the latest psychological thriller by Emma Kavanagh, the author stopped by with this great guest post …

Image Of The Blog Tour Schedule For Hidden By Emma Kavanagh

Hi! I’m Emma Kavanagh

Image Of Author Emma Kavanagh

I was born and raised in Swansea, South Wales and first announced that I wanted to be a writer at the grand old age of 5. I believe that I was dazzled by the riches that would fall to writers after being awarded a gold star and a lollipop for a 6 line short story. Ah! the ignorance of youth.

I did however, take a somewhat circuitous route to authordom. Having decided that if I was going to write then perhaps I needed something to write about, I studied psychology in Cardiff University and then, continued on into my PhD. The next logical step, having achieved my much longed for doctorate, was to carry on into psychological research.

I started my own consultancy business, specialising in providing training to police officers and military personnel on the psychology of critical incidents. My main area of focus was the use of firearms and I spent many fulfilling years travelling across the UK and Europe providing training and consultancy to police forces and NATO. It was, by anyone’s standards, an unusual life.

But still, it wasn’t writing. So, now that I had something to say, I faced the demon of the blank screen and started to write my first book. It was not good. It was, however, undeniably a book shaped creation and it gave me the courage to try again. This next book was better, although still, the holy grail of the publisher’s deal remained just out of reach. I took some time off, had my first son, and then, when he was three months old began to write the book that would become Falling, my debut psychological thriller, followed by this, my second book Hidden.

You can follow me on Twitter

I think the thing I love most about writing is that there is nothing that is beyond the scope of what I do. Anything that catches my interest – a crime, a personality trait, a large-scale catastrophe – can evolve and grow into a story. I also love how writing can be used to expose us to a world in which we would never normally find ourselves, and can give us the opportunity to imagine how we would react to it, how we would cope.

Photograph Of Author Emma Kavanagh - Official Publisher Version

The Redemption of Writing: Is Writing A Healer?

I love words!

Well, duh!

I believe in their power to soothe, to comfort, to heal. I believe in their ability to inspire, to capture the unthinkable, to help us cope with the unimaginable.

As a psychologist, words have been my tool. They have allowed me to take the experiences of police officers, military personnel, and translate them, turning response that are visceral, often cruel, into a logical process, our cognitions at work. Words can help us give structure to traumatic events. When we experience a shooting, a car crash, an armed robbery, our brain will often store these occasions in a piecemeal format. We may recall images, flashes of colour, smells, sounds that apparently come from nowhere. But we are humans. Humans need stories like they need air. So to experience that, to have this event in our memory that makes little to no sense, can be excruciating. We can experience flashbacks, recurring dreams, and can find our daily lives tainted by these little sensory snippets that refuse to retreat. Words can help. Allowing and encouraging people to tell the story of their experiences can, in some instances, help them remove themselves from the centre of it, enabling them to gain some distance, some perspective. Sometimes, it is the physical force of writing that does it – forcing people to form a coherent narrative from their darkest, most traumatic experiences can sometimes bring relief and even understanding.

But!

There are some exceptions.

I believe in meeting people where they are. Not everyone uses words to heal. For some, being forced to talk or write about their hardest times is tantamount to forcing them to relive it. It does not bring closure. It does not bring relief. Not everyone heals in the same way, and that’s okay. It’s the way it should be. So, for such people, other means must be found.

The other point I have to make is that, yes, writing can be a great healer. That’s what diaries are for. Writing that is meant for public consumption is something else entirely. Do you want your deepest fears, your most painful memories ripped apart in a 1 star Amazon review? No? Me either.

Writing for me is redemptive. The act of forming words, even if they are words that make up a story I am telling, soothes me and makes me feel whole. But when I write a novel, that is what I am doing. I am not trying to battle my demons or trying to seek public sympathy with my troubles. I am telling a story. The rest of it, I’ll save for my diary

Photograph Of Author Emma Kavanagh - Official Publisher Version

Thanks For Having Me … Emma Kavanagh

Thanks for stopping by Emma, it has been a pleasure to have you visit 🙂

Here is just a little background information about Hidden, the rest you need to discover for yourself!

HIDDEN

Have You Ever Felt Watched?

HE’S WATCHING

A gunman is stalking the wards of a local hospital. He’s unidentified and dangerous, and he has to be located. Urgently.

Police Firearms Officer Aden McCarthy is tasked with tracking him down. Still troubled by the shooting of a schoolboy, Aden is determined to make amends by finding the gunman – before it’s too late.

SHE’S WAITING

To psychologist Imogen, hospital should be a place of healing and safety – both for her, and for her young niece who’s recently been admitted. She’s heard about the gunman, but he has little to do with her. Or has he?

As time ticks down, no one knows who the gunman’s next target will be. But he’s there. Hiding in plain sight. Far closer than anyone thinks…

Check out those all important opening lines

Be inspired by these teaser lines

Read this short extract from the first chapter

Read my personal thoughts about Hidden

Written by
Yvonne

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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4 comments
  • I enjoyed this excellent guest post!

    I’ve kept journals of one sort or another for close to 45 years, but as therapeutic as they’ve often been, I’ve told my children they may want to destroy them without reading them after my death. I’m not sure they could appreciate them out of context.

    Good luck with the release of this book. I imagine it will go on my wish list once it’s available in the US (I only saw a pre-order for the audio at Amazon). It sounds wonderful!

    Thanks for hosting this stop on the tour, Yvonne.

    • Hi Kelly,

      This was certainly a unique guest post, featuring an aspect of writing I haven’t thought about for many years. I used to keep a daily diary when I was a teenager, although it was never something I thought of continuing with in later life. I admire those like yourself, who have the motivation and yes, courage, to write down their innermost thoughts, with the risk that others might open and read the journals after your passing.

      Having said that, so many books are based on events catalogued in this way, that our knowledge of past history and customs may be lost forever if the keeping of a diary became a thing of the past.

      I’m afraid that readers in the US will have to wait another whole month until May 26th, to be able to read ‘Hidden’ in print copy, although it is now available on Kindle and audio. Also, if you have a Netgalley account, ‘Hidden’ is available for request.

      I have to come clean and admit that I still have Emma’s debut novel ‘Falling’, in my TBR pile to read, although I have published a couple of promotional posts. It was only the deadline imposed by the blog tour which made me get my backside into gear and crack on with reading ‘Hidden’!

      Thanks for stopping by. I always look forward to your interesting comments and thoughts 🙂

  • Hello Emma and Yvonne. Wonderful post! I agree, writing can be a healer for some. I like how the author says she separates her writing novels from her personal writings. It is true, it must be heart breaking to write your personal struggles then to have someone rip them apart in a review. Yet, so many authors pen memoirs and put it all out there. Thick skin is needed.
    Enjoy your week Yvonne!

    • Hi Naida,

      I must admit that I don’t understand authors who lay their soul bare for all to read and that is probably the main reason why I don’t read memoirs. That and the fact that once one person has revealed a hidden or perhaps terrible event or secret from their lives, others feel the need to jump on the bandwagon, until it almost becomes a competition about who has suffered the most! I think those kind of thoughts and remembrances, whilst it may be redemptive or cathartic to commit them to paper, should be kept private.

      Fiction writing is something completely different and separate, although if an author manages to find a way to include facts or events personal to them, in such a way as to be seamless for the reader and the author remains the ony one aware of the personal connection, then that I don’t object to!

      Thanks for your visit, you always have something interesting to add to a conversation 🙂

Written by Yvonne

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