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Books have an uncanny way of becoming more than just a story. The right story, at the right time, you don’t just read it, you live it. It becomes a part of you, its words echo inside you at pivotal moments, it changes how you view the world, or view yourself.  Words are important, if you hear them enough you start to repeat them. As a writer, what we say in them matters.

When I was in the middle of writing Bestial I suffered the worst events of my life. Many of us find it hard to open up about our mental health, we have a biologically driven desire to hide weakness, but what that does is perpetuate a culture of shame, repression, and ultimately desperation. Let me be open, and honest: I was depressed, I was suicidal.

I honestly believe that writing saved my life.

Through Yvaine I was able to express my darkest thoughts. She personified all my worst depressive traits: the self-loathing, the isolation (mostly of her/my own making), the despair, loneliness, hopelessness, and the utterly selfish and wrong notion that to remove ourselves from this mortal coil would be the best solution. I let her feel for me while I was in a state of unfeeling shock, and I let her take me on her journey of self-discovery while I was still unable to trust myself.  She showed me her strength, and I learned through her how to make my own.

My hope is that by writing a flawed, depressed character who suffers through heartbreak and loss that if anyone who reads it happens to relate to Yvaine and her struggle, my struggle, that they will also learn their own strength by following her journey.

Don’t be ashamed if you suffer, it’s what makes you stronger. Talk about it, be open and honest, because to hide it is to say that it’s not appropriate for discussion, that it’s wrong somehow to tell other people if you hurt because mental pain is harder to see than physical pain, and therefore less. It is not less. You are not less for going through it.

I’m still recovering from everything I went through, I may never fully recover, but when I wrote the ending of Yvaine’s story I also wrote the ending of my own story, and maybe that of others:

I am not so weak as that, reminded the beast inside the girl, who would not let her forget herself again.


When I was first considering this novel, I was thinking about the concept of how a human and a beast could develop an emotional relationship.  I was tired of the dynamic found throughout fantasy literature, television and films where a helpless female protagonist becomes drawn into the world of the monstrous male other, which ultimately dominates her entirely.

Fantasy as a genre needs to have more examples of heroines retaining their strength in relationships with inhuman male characters.  These are stories which are often taken by teenage readers as depicting their romantic ideals.  This is one of the reasons why I switched the genders of the traditional trope, and made my human character male and my beast female, turning that dynamic on its head.

The other reason was that while considering the dynamic between human and inhuman relationships I drew inspiration from my experiences in falconry.  Instead of a human becoming dominated by the monstrous other, in falconry they form a partnership of mutual respect. As the female bird of prey is larger than the male, a falconer admires, even loves, their female birds for their power, their violence, aggression (directed appropriately) and hunting prowess.  She is a force to be reckoned with and respected because the falconer knows exactly what those feet are capable of.

Bestial expresses these concepts, and it was important to me that my female character embodied the sort of violent power of a female bird of prey, and would not be dominated by a relationship with a male character.  This is ultimately her story, describing her journey of self-discovery.