Interview with Angelena Boden
It’s time now to meet another Urbane author. Angelena Boden’s debut novel, ‘The Cruelty of Lambs’ was published last year and is doing very well indeed. I have interviewed Angelena for this event.
Firstly, can you tell me a bit about ‘The Cruelty of Lambs’?
The Cruelty of Lambs is my debut novel which I wrote in my 60th year. It’s a psychological thriller which tracks the insidious emotional abuse by Una Carrington, a ruthless business woman, towards her gentle cellist husband who lost his teaching post due to allegations of sexual harassment in a girls’ school. Iain falls into a dark place and as his mind deteriorates it becomes a challenge to work out who is the abuser and who is the perpetrator. It is when his precious cello goes missing that his fellow string player and best friend get involved knowing that its recovery is Iain’s only hope of redemption.
The book has been described as one of the most challenging books some readers have ever read. Compelling, gripping and a deep insight into the minds of abusers and the impact on their victims.
What made you decide to write it?
I am a survivor of coercive control and emotional abuse which lasted for 20 years. At first you don’t realise what’s happening, a bit like Helen in the Archer’s story line, then it becomes your norm. I was going to write my story as a memoir but even after 15 years it is too painful as I have post-traumatic stress disorder. I wanted to show that such abuse is insidious and is not gender specific. I also wanted the police to treat it as seriously as they do domestic violence. This is violence of the mind. I am glad to see that the law changed in 2015/16 to incorporate this type of abuse.
Where did you get your ideas from for this book?
All personal experience.
Did you have to do any research and if so, what did it entail?
I have spent over 30 years training, advising and counselling people to deal with conflict and difficult behaviours so everything was at my fingertips. The book was written from the heart as much as anything else.
How long did it take you to write?
It’s interesting as the first draft just flowed so it took about 3 months to get it down. Then the hard work began. I let it ‘rest’ and came back to it a month later. All in all it took 5 drafts and about a year to complete to my satisfaction. You can always keep fiddling with bits but I think there comes a point when you have to run with it. I was pleased to find Urbane Publications as Matthew is a great supporter of people who want to write their story. He doesn’t want it adapted or changed solely to suit a market place.
Is domestic abuse something you wanted to make more people aware of?
I think violence towards women is something we are more aware of but abuse and violence towards men is something that is coming more into the news. Emotional abuse, manipulation, gas lighting (designed to make you think you are the one who’s crazy) and coercive control needs to be taken more seriously by the authorities. I would like to think The Cruelty of Lambs helps people to recognise it and take action. It’s a pity poor Iain hadn’t read it!
Can you relate to any of your characters?
I suppose I am a mix of Iain and Una. I ran a successful business and my ex-husband lost his through his bad attitude towards customers. He was what we call passive-aggressive. Blame flew from all sides but it was he who abused me. I must say this though:- it is often very difficult to define cause and effect. The dynamics become so muddled. I found that I had to take harsh measures to protect me and my children as I was losing my sanity towards the end. I no longer knew who I was and that is the aim:- to break your spirit.
What are you working on now?
I have just finished the final edit of my new book, The Future Can’t Wait. It’s a mother and daughter drama in a cocktail of addiction, obsession, against a background of extremism.
Have you got any pearls of wisdom for anyone wanting to pen their first novel?
Just do it! I am very disciplined as I’ve run my own consultancy so I am motivated by deadlines. I don’t plan any of my books as I allow my characters to take me on their journey and it’s such fun. Some people like to plan it out in detail but I think that can be a bit stifling. Set aside an hour a day if you can’t spare anymore and just write that first chapter. Don’t edit or stress over it. Write the second chapter and when you’ve finished, let it rest. This is not a glamorous career and it might not make you a penny so there needs to be a real impetus to write.
How long have you been a professional life coach and training consultant for and is it interesting?
Coming up to 35 years. I have some fantastic contracts. I did all the staff training for Cadbury World in Birmingham which is why Bournville gets a mention in Cruelty. I trained staff to meet and greet Olympic visitors in Atlanta and Sydney and the Welsh Ryder Cup. I worked in Belfast for 3 years on a peace contract post the Good Friday agreement but my claim to fame was the training of night club door staff in Birmingham in the 80’s. The press went crazy for the story and called it Angie’s Charm School. It even got in the Sunday Times colour supplement.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’ve started to paint landscapes even though I was a remedial at school and living in Malvern means I do a lot of hill walking. My passion is languages (I speak 4 plus English) and travelling. I’m interested in cultural astrology and astronomy and how they link with the cycles of history.
If you were only allowed three books what would they be?
Gosh. I’ve often wondered how I would ask the question on Desert Island discs but at least you are giving me a choice of 3! ‘
• What would Aristotle Say? Self control through the power of reasoning by Dr.Elliot Cohen.
• Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
• A Shropshire Lad, a poetry collection by Alfred Housman.
‘The Cruelty of Lambs’ is available to buy from:-
Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-cruelty-of-lambs/
Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/2mnSJNv
Angelena Boden’s website – http://www.angelenaboden.com/
Great interview. This sounds fascinating and compelling, if not perhaps an easy read – can’t wait! It’s in my (towering) TBR!
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You convey a lot of honesty in your interview, together with a strong capacity for self reflection – that bodes well for your writing. Sounds as if it would also be a good film!
Thanks Deirdre. I try to be honest and open and me.