This month’s Author Takeover comes from Eve Ainsworth, whose first novel, Seven Days, has recently been nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Award 2016, while her second novel, Crush, will be published this week by Scholastic.
Eve’s novel Seven Days is a story about the ramifications of bullying from two points of view, and she returns with Crush – another literary sucker-punch in the guts. We all know that love is a powerful tool in the Potter world, be that tangled teenage emotions, first kisses, broken friendships, or family frays. In Crush, Ainsworth explores what happens when the darkness takes over. Love can hurt. But should it hurt this much? At first, Will seems like a keeper – handsome, loving, reliable. He’s the comforting rock Anna needs in her life since her mom passed away – until his other side shows through: moody, possessive, prone to violent fury that comes and goes in a flash. Will wants Anna to be his alone. Soon, he’s shutting her old world out. Without her friends and family, the walls are closing in. But Anna can’t see the danger – not really. Even Will can’t see the brutal shock that’s in store…
Learning from a Toxic Love
As a child I always liked dark and gritty stories. I was drawn to the villains. I liked to know what made them tick. When I first picked up the Harry Potter books, it was the grittier characters that I longed to pick apart and know more about. Initially the cruel parenting and systematic child abuse of the Dursleys shocked me, and then as the book moved on I was drawn to the other darker characters such as Voldemort, Snape, and Draco.
I longed to know what drove their actions. Look at Merope Gaunt, for example. What a character! Brought up in poverty, she was abused and damaged. She sought love in the worst possible way. She sought to find love through control and deception. How different might Voldemort’s life have been had she not tried to win his father’s love by bewitching and trapping him?
Maybe it’s because of my background; working in child protection, I was told some awful stories. I witnessed some terrible things. But nothing saddens me more than the failings of others. In Harry Potter we can see that love can drive people to make the wrong decisions, bad decisions, decisions that can change lives. It doesn’t matter if you are a wizard or a Muggle – if you are in a toxic relationship, you will cause harm to another.
Crush is about just this – toxic love. Crush is about Will and Anna – a boy and girl [who] fall in love and want to make it work. But because of his troubled background, Will does not know how to love. He mistakes love for control and quite quickly things turn nasty. And like Seven Days, I look at both sides of the story because I think it’s important to explore each character’s motivations and work out why they might act the way they do.
And it’s only by understanding these failings that we can learn, move forward, and stop making the same mistakes over and over.