You never know where the idea for a novel will come from. Sometimes, it comes in a brilliant flash of inspiration; more often than not from long, deliberate meditation. Occasionally, however, a story will be borne out of personal experience. Writing a novel based on things that really happened can be tricky in that life doesn’t always provide a convenient denouement drawing all the strands of a plot together. Relationships usually fade without drama, without leaving that niggling feeling of What if? Real people seldom die, are killed, or commit suicide in a timely manner, plot devices that are overused in novels. And sadly, there are few happily-ever-afters in real life.
That said, something happened a few weeks ago that had me remembering a past life of sorts, a time when I was thirty and dating a number of women. One of them would become my first wife, another would become the quintessential woman scorned, and a third would become the wretched casualty of my capricious heart. Fifteen years later that poor woman would write to tell me that she would never ever forgive me. As I read that letter, I felt a fresh pang of guilt and murmured quietly: “Darling, I haven’t forgiven myself, either.”
And so a third novel based in Japan about relationships is begat. It will be my Act of Contrition.