Cherry Crow Children: on fighting, and fighting back

To celebrate the launch of Cherry Crow Children way back when, the plan was to do something of a blog tour — but it fell by the wayside because Life.

However, the first of the posts are written, and the launch of the ebook seems as good a time as any to put them up. So over the next few weeks I'll be posting a few pieces which explore the topics the collection touches upon.



I adore a good fight scene, and if the writers have choreographed me one where a woman gets to demonstrate her prowess, I love that most of all. (Although there will always be a special place in my heart for fight scenes which poke fun at our collective dream of being innately badhorse, vis a vis the one in Bridget Jones Diary.)

I don’t tend to write characters with martial prowess, however — because what interests me more is what we do when we can’t fight.

There are plenty of obvious reasons — most of them to do with lack of equality and unequal privilege structures — why starting in with some fisticuffs is simply not an option. Even laying those aside, however, most societies have a nuanced set of rules designed to minimise the true incidence of physical force.

So when we see an injustice we want to right, what’s left to us? What can we use, and what can we do, to bring about change? That’s one of the questions I explore in the stories of Cherry Crow Children.

All my protagonists are in some way disempowered.

Cadan is a stranger in town, confronted by unfamiliar customs and a culture grown as circuitous and puzzling as its geography. The townsfolk’s passive resistance to his urgency disarms his familiar tactics, saps him of his usual drive, and leaves him confused and rudderless.

Eliane is hampered by a generous heart and her instinctive empathy: able to see everyone’s perspective, she is eternally driven (and expected) to put others’ needs ahead of her own.

Mara is cripplingly poor and has family to support; anything she dares will risk more lives than her own.

Claudia, raised by a community so close-knit every individual is all but family and privacy is considered suspicious, has received from her mother the most unique and dangerous gift of all: a secret.

They all fight with what they have to hand: words; manoeuvring; logic and social conditioning. They don’t always win – not because I think that physical effort is the only way to win, but because I wanted to reflect how exhausting it can be, to have to fight the whole weight of society bearing down against you. But people are a resourceful breed; inevitably, we will devise other weapons. And when nothing else remains, people themselves are also weapons. And so, in the end, each of my characters must use the one thing they can claim as their own: what their society has labelled as their “weakness” – their bodies; their principles; their silence; their stubbornness.

Sometimes, we have nothing with which to fight — and that’s when fighting back can be the most important thing to do. And sometimes, when we fight back, we discover that we, ourselves — our willingness, our daring, our tenacity — are the ultimate weapon.