Published in the Sunday Times
Consuelo Roland,Jacana Media
I am never quite sure, until I’ve written it, how far Paola will go. Nothing is certain.
There’s an image that encapsulates the black heart of the story to be told. With Wolf Trap, I visualised a young woman floating downriver on a pontoon, the transparent white nightgown stained crimson. It was an archetypal glimpse into timeless horror and damage.
I knew nothing about how she got there; only that the pontoon with its passenger was essential and inevitable.
In the scene I eventually write the unconscious girl is wearing boots. A silvery low-lying mist surrounds the boat. There is slipperiness about the visuals; they shift shape as the story elements develop. Yet the feeling in the pit of my stomach is the same and it gets me started.
But a single twisted image and outrage do not a novel make. In Wolf Trap Paola Dante discovers that keeping her adopted daughter Simone safe is not easily reconcilable with the habits of a law-abiding citizen. Real life adds veracity. I do research into the dark web, into missing children, into sex slave abductions, into criminal networks that peddle paedophilia and porn. In Wolf Trap secrets are currency. Simone’s online persona “Butterfly” talks to a stranger, “Diable”, in a hidden chat room.
While out jogging in wineland suburbia I come upon a signboard: “Huis in Bos”. My mind leaps to a derelict dwelling deep in a forest and I recall reading about the remnants of an ancient wolf trap found on a farm. I mull over the relationship between woodsman, hunter and villain.
Other impressions come flying out of the thick darkness. Protecting Simone from a paedophile network makes Paola question everything she knows about herself. Love is action. The moral quandaries she faces are subtler than I’d anticipated.
It’s one thing to walk wide-eyed into a maze of carnal temptation expecting to find your absconded husband. It’s another to fervently hope that the predatory wolf after your daughter has lost interest and moved on to other prey.
I am never quite sure, until I’ve written it, how far Paola will go.
Nothing is certain.
Novelistic life is unpredictable.
- Wolf Trap by Consuelo Roland
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