Well, it’s a bit of a complicated story. You see…. Moths isn’t my first book. I mean, it’s the first that will be published, because it’s by far the most polished. It is also, probably, the most emotionally delving and personal. But I’ll save that for later. My first book, Cry of the Peacock (which will be released in hardcover and e-book formats in April 2012) is also about arranged marriage. I’m not exactly sure why I’m so obsessed with the idea of arranged marriages. I think it’s partly because I find the concept of learning to love someone you might not have chosen for yourself truly fascinating. But there’s something more to it. Something deeper. I believe that a lot of unhappiness in marriage is caused by unfulfilled expectations and disillusionment. So…what would happen if you went into marriage with no expectations whatever? Cry of the Peacock and Of Moths & Butterflies have a great deal in common. They are, in essence two sides of the same coin. Though they explore some of the same themes, they are not the same book any more than David Copperfield and Great Expectations are the same.
I suppose, in addressing this theme (albeit from two very different angles) I meant to explore what it is we consider freedoms, and what we consider our obligations and why. There’s more to it, of course, which I’ll discuss in a later post. But, thinking of this one day, I was listening to Royksopp. A truly inspirational band for me. And I was listening to “49 Percent. There is a line that says, “Less than half? Why won’t you try to make this damage better?” The song is talking about happiness, and when we are less than half happy, then we need to do something about it. Happiness is only partly circumstance after all. It’s largely attitude. And it got me thinking.
Here is where I should probably add that Moths is somewhat autobiographical. Granted, my marriage wasn’t arranged, I did not have a large inheritance left me, nor was I born in time to see the passing of the Married Women’s Property Act. However… There are some experiences in my past which have made it really difficult for me to give 100% of myself, or to really be willing to place myself in a position of vulnerability required to love with the intensity I wish to do. These experiences, in a small part, I have in common with Imogen. And through her I took the opportunity of exploring what they mean and how they truly affect me. And beyond that, how they would affect someone in her position, her time and place, and in her set of circumstances.
But there is more than even that. I am, for whatever reason–by nature, or a fluke of it, or because I was put in the wrong place and time, or because I was put in the right place and time but with antiquated sensibilities–exceedingly old fashioned. While there is much about the Victorian era that enrages me (it is fuel, after all, for some great stories) I do admire what they were trying to do. I admire the intent behind the rules and structure, the morals and mores. And I see, today, how, without them, our society is fraying, not only at the edges, but in the very centre. I realise that the mistakes the Victorians made have prejudiced us toward them, and yet…when did it become ok to give up on the ideal? When did it become ok for every man to live for himself without any regard whatever for his neighbour or his children, or for those that come after him? We complain about our leaders today. Where are our leaders tomorrow? What will they be like? Who is training them, raising them, preparing them? I don’t have the answers. And it frightens me. And so, in my own, small way, I suppose I’m trying to encourage people to ask those same questions, and to answer them, if they can.