Continuing my series on inspiration and influences for my novels, in this post I am taking a look at the ideas behind my romantic drama Love vs Honour.
This book stands apart from the rest of my novels, as teenage romantic fiction is not a genre I generally dabble in. However, themes of religious oppression, deception and revenge are definitely mainstays in a lot of my other writing, and they are very much to the fore here. I have always been drawn to unusual love stories, and I wanted Love vs Honour to succeed on that level, as well as, given the potentially contentious subject matter, on the level of a thought provoking drama that would attract readers outside the teenage romance crowd.
Here are two key influences on Love vs Honour:
Romeo and Juliet (William Shakespeare) – The most obvious influence on the novel, purely because disapproving families have always been a staple as a blocking force in romantic fiction. Also, I think as protagonists Johnny and Sabina share some of Romeo and Juliet’s characteristics, although certainly they evolve in very different directions.
House of Sand and Fog (Andre Dubus III) – Pre-revolutionary Iran under the Shah hangs like a shadow over the character of Massoud in this novel, as it does over Sabina’s father Ahmed in Love vs Honour. I have always been fascinated by the appalling damage caused by the Iranian revolution to those whose beliefs were insufficiently radical for the new regime, and their subsequent exile in western nations.
I have to confess, I struggled to think of other writing or stories that were an influence on the novel, although I am hardly the first to try and tackle interfaith romance. Tonally, some of Peter Weir’s films (particularly Picnic at Hanging Rock, Dead Poets Society and Witness) were touchstones in their explorations of emergent teenage sexuality, loneliness, overbearing parents and clashing cultures.
The truth is the main inspiration came as the result of a long train of thought whilst stuck in traffic on a long and boring bus journey. The setting came to me later, once I moved to Devon and I was inspired by locations in that part of the world.
You can download or buy print copies of Love vs Honour from Amazon here.