Welcome to my turn on the blog tour for Before Her Eyes by Jack Jordan. Sincere thanks also to Kirsty Doole of Corvus Books for the opportunity to be part of the tour. I have already read and reviewed both of the novels Jack Jordan wrote this year so I’m sharing an amazing guestpost with you all today that is very touching but first and foremost let’s start with the book itself:
She can’t see the killer But the killer can see her…
Naomi Hannah has been blind since birth. Struggling with living in a small, claustrophobic town, Naomi contemplates ending her life. But then she stumbles across the body of a young woman who has been brutally murdered. She senses someone else there at the scene – watching her. Naomi may not be able to see the killer’s face, but she is still the only person who can identify him.
As the police begin hunting the person responsible and more victims are discovered, Naomi is forced to answer the question on which her fate hangs: why did the killer let her live?
In a town this small, the murderer must be close, perhaps even before her very eyes…
Click the links below for my book reviews on all of his books so far :
Before Her Eyes is available in paperback and ebook (audio coming soon) from Waterstones, WHSmith Travel, Waitrose, and all good bookshops and online outlets, including all major e-retailers
Agoraphobia kept me prisoner, but ultimately set me free
Most authors will tell you that they have wanted to be writers ever since they can remember, and have always imagined they would have their own stories on the shelves one day. My start, however, was a little different.
I loved reading and writing as a child. English was one of my favourite subjects in school. I beamed whenever I had the opportunity to exercise creative writing in class and I’ve always loved reading, even if a little out of my age range (I was once told a book was too mature to bring to school… I can’t even remember what it was. All I knew was: it was a book and I was going to read it). But I never remember thinking that my love of reading and writing meant that I could have a book on the shelf too. I never thought that someone like me, a working class kid, could achieve something so monumental. I had put limitations upon myself from the very beginning: I wouldn’t even allow the idea of writing a book, let alone getting it published, to enter my mind, which stayed that way until one day, many years later, my dream finally clicked… but not without struggles along the way.
Cut to me, aged seventeen. After moving four hours away from home in a wild, rebellious rush, I returned home utterly broken from a traumatic experience. I came home to feel safe, with no idea that the very same home I craved would become my prison for over a year.
Anxiety is a powerful, intelligent thing. I’ve had it my entire life. Separation anxiety plagued every goodbye. Sunday nights were hell in my house, as my anxiety exploded from having to face another week of school. But even a lifetime of anxiety could not have prepared me for the debilitating power of agoraphobia and PTSD.
Overnight, I became a recluse. I existed entirely behind closed doors. I gave windows a wide berth to avoid being seen, flinching whenever someone walked by. I shut myself away if there were visitors in the house, and lost all sense of night and day, sleeping in the day and living at night, which made me feel like I was the only person awake in the entire world, a unique breed of loneliness that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. My anxiety was triggered by everything and anything, however irrational they seemed. And then it got so bad that I couldn’t even leave my bedroom.
I remember when this happened: I had walked down the stairs at the exact same moment the postman delivered our mail, and the shock of it brought on a horrendous panic attack. I collapsed on the stairs and stayed there, hyperventilating with my eyes on the glass in the door, too terrified to move. I stayed there for an hour. Just like that, I was confined to my bedroom, too scared to even look out of my own window.
One morning, after another sleepless night, I lay in bed filled with unspent energy. Hiding away day and night takes very little physical exertion, and deprives a person of mental stimulation. The energy builds and builds and builds like traffic, and with nowhere to go, it ends up fuelling the anxiety, the very thing that was keeping me hidden in the first place – a never-ending cycle that I felt helpless to stop. So as the sun rose, I wrote a short story to pass the time. It was only a thousand words or so, written in the notes app on my Blackberry. I didn’t think anything of it, it was just something I did for fun, just another idea that had presented itself inside my mind that I had no idea what to do with or felt I had the right to act on. It was just to help me fall asleep.
Except… when I woke up, I wrote another chapter. And another. And another. I had no idea that I was writing a book, only that I was creating characters who could exist outside of my prison. I was getting the stimulation I craved and a way out of my hell, even if my escape was only imaginary.
For six months, I lived vicariously through my characters, escaping the confines of my home using my mind, my characters, the power of words, until one day I looked down and realised I had written a novel of one hundred thousand words. Without realising, I had fulfilled the dream I had never allowed myself to fathom. The second I wrote ‘The End’, I knew I was a writer, and that deep down, I had known all along.
Writing ‘The End’ was only the beginning, but it unlocked a truth from within me, a realisation that might never have occurred, had it not been for my anxiety: I’m a writer. I always have been. All of those ideas that had plagued my mind for years not only had a way of being released, but they had a purpose.
You’re not reading the words of a university graduate. I never even went to college. I dropped out of school at fourteen because of depression and anxiety (growing up attracted to the same sex is VERY fun, by the way). You’re reading the words of an author whose lifeline was the written word. As my peers moved around the country to study, I taught myself grammar, spelling, punctuation, how to format a novel, how to structure a story, how the whole publishing thing worked, all from the confines of my bedroom. I spent day and night making my dream a reality, and slowly put myself back together again through years of therapy and exposure. Five years later, I went on to publish my debut novel Anything for Her, followed by my second, My Girl, the year after. The two titles sold over one hundred thousand copies.
So now, at twenty-five, as I prepare myself for the release of my traditional debut, Before Her Eyes, I look back with complete admiration for who I was at seventeen, and for all the strength it took to face and trust the world again, not only as a person, but as a writer, with my past and pain strewn over the pages of my books and dozens of rejections to my name.
Eight years have passed, but I will never forget how I started, and will always feel the same pride, the same overwhelming confirmation that being a writer is who I am, every time I write ‘The End’.
*** Don’t forget to check out the other blog tour stops ***