A Difficult Subject
by Barbara Elsborg
One of the things writers are often asked is – where do you get your ideas? The answer for me is everywhere as I suspect it is for most authors. The germ for Falling was the story a friend told me about her friend’s son who taught in a school in Scotland. He’d been accused—unjustly—of sexual assault. The pupil in question later withdrew her claim but too late to save the guy’s career. Mud does indeed stick and teaching lost a talented guy.
I took the story a stage further and sent my hero to prison. I have a few friends in the English judicial system and I researched to find out what would happen to him, the sort of sentence he’d get, the likelihood of him being convicted. The fact that Harper was so unfairly treated is, I hope, uncommon. And it’s very important to balance all this against the terrible crimes that are committed against children. Most of those charged with sexual assault deny it and continue to do so even after conviction. But juries don’t always get it right. Sometimes the good guys are delivered into a nightmare that continues long after they are released.
Not an easy topic. Not a light topic. So I balanced it with a guy I fell for the moment I chose his name – Malachi. The meaning of his name is significant!
Harper is no longer behind bars, but it doesn’t feel like it. Ten years serving time for a crime he didn’t commit have left him shut down, numb, and a frozen wreck over the simplest of choices.
He’s acutely aware of the dark-haired young man checking him out in the supermarket, but he’s too deep in panic mode to even meet the guy’s gaze. Afraid the slightest move will trigger a fall that will never stop.
Fresh off a long-term relationship with a controlling man, Malachi is stuck living with relatives who think he’s a waste of oxygen. The tall guy in the long, gray coat is the first bright spot he’s glimpsed in a long time…though the man’s unblinking stare at a bottle of shower gel is a touch alarming.
Hard experience tells both of them to turn away before lust turns to hopeless attraction, and inevitably to disaster. But once their sparks connect, the arc of electricity is too strong to deny. Even if the cost is too much to bear.
An Excerpt from Falling
Harper walked quickly back down the main road, rising anxiety making his chest ache. Past The Station pub where light and noise spilled onto the pavement, past a row of shops that were no longer familiar, past the car dealership that was, and he kept going alongside the cricket ground until he reached Ings Lane. He was almost running, but he didn’t seem able to slow down even though his breathing was ragged.
He turned off Ings Lane onto Oddstone Lane. Willow House was right at the end. He wasn’t supposed to be here yet, but the place he’d agreed to stay in for a month had been wrecked by a burst pipe. He transferred the bags to one hand and fumbled in his pocket for the key. It worked—thank fuck—and a flick of a switch turned on the hall light. See? Everything is fine. He closed the door behind him, his chest heaving, stared at the bolt before he wrenched it across, and then he started to shake.
Before the bags fell from his trembling hand, he put them on the floor, then slid down the wall to his haunches, covering his head with his arms, his fingers interlinked.
Safe, safe, safe.
But he wasn’t. His head wouldn’t let him be safe. His head threw him right back into hell. He stayed in that position for a long while, his breathing fast and erratic, waiting for something to happen, for someone to kick him or shout abuse or whisper obscenities or order him to his feet. The complete silence freaked him out. Mentally and physically exhausted, he had no thought of doing anything other than sleeping, because that would shut down his racing mind.
He rocked back and forth, struggling with the churning in his head, his mixed-up thoughts tumbling hard and heavy like boulders rolling down a hill. Taking deep breaths began to help. He had a mountain to climb and falling rocks to dodge, but the mountain would still be there in the morning, and maybe when he woke, it wouldn’t look quite so much like Everest.
Once he was sure his legs would support him, he pushed himself up. He left the supermarket purchases where they lay, picked up his duffel bag and made for the stairs. He didn’t even know if there was a bed to sleep in.
He pushed open the door to his old room and pressed the light switch. A double bed but no sheets, blankets or pillows. He pulled thin, flowery curtains across the window. What a novelty, though he felt no more secure. Cleaning his teeth and washing his face was a nightly ritual and he broke it. He didn’t even need to take a piss. Had he drunk anything today? A coffee, first thing. Nothing after.
He left the light on, kicked off his shoes and curled up on the bed in his coat. A moment later he got up and put the shoes neatly together on the floor. He’d hardly lain flat again before he reached down and tossed them across the room. He closed his eyes. Please let me sleep. Please don’t let me dream. Please give me my life back.
No one was listening. No one ever had.
He was still falling.
About Barbara Elsborg
Barbara Elsborg lives in West Yorkshire in the north of England. She always wanted to be a spy, but having confessed to everyone without them even resorting to torture, she decided it was not for her. Vulcanology scorched her feet. A morbid fear of sharks put paid to marine biology. So instead, she spent several years successfully selling cyanide. (Try saying that fast)
After dragging up two rotten, ungrateful children and frustrating her sexy, devoted, wonderful husband (who can now stop twisting her arm) she finally has time to conduct an affair with an electrifying plugged-in male, her laptop. Her books feature quirky heroines and bad boys, sometimes two bad boys for each quirky heroine, and more recently two bad boys all on their own. She hopes her stories are as much fun to read as they are to write.
You can find out more about Barbara and her books at www.barbaraelsborg.com, catch more of her scintillating wit at her blog on the same site, and if you want to tell her how much you love her books, please, email her!
Barbara has graciously offered up an eBook copy of Falling to one lucky winner!! The giveaway starts now and ends March 23, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. To enter, just click the link below!
Please be aware that the only way to enter the giveaway is to click the Rafflecopter link above. Any comments on this post will not count towards entering the giveaway, except to verify your Rafflecopter entry.
Don’t forget to check out JustJen’s review of Falling to see what she thought of it!