Suzanne Seddon: 'It's about domestic abuse in its rawest form, I wanted to cover it exactly like it is'
PUBLISHED: 15:23 10 July 2019
Islington author Suzanne Seddon's first book, A Fool's Circle, combines themes of domestic violence with a thriller narrative.
Suzanne Seddon's debut novel is not a light-hearted read. "There's murder, there's drugs, there's rape," explains the Islington-based writer. "It's about domestic violence in its rawest form, because I wanted to cover it exactly like it is."
Originally written as a play, A Fool's Circle charts the story of Kate Sanders, who meets and swiftly falls in love with Alan whilst at university. After the couple are married, things soon unravel as Alan loses his job and turns to the bottle, becoming increasingly spiteful and abusive to his wife, in turn pushing Kate to the brink of suicide.
Through her friendship with Jill Reynolds and love for her daughter, Kate clings on in the face of immense adversity. Her luck seems to change when she inherits a fortune from her aunt and meets a new man. But then she finds herself in the frame for murder.
"It's not like a self-help book - it's a psychological thriller - I've sort of combined the two," adds Seddon, who drew upon her personal experience of domestic troubles throughout the story.
"I grew up around domestic violence and had mental abuse inflicted on me for years, so it was very hard to write. It took me two years to do so.
"My mum went in to hospital in 2014 and died in 2016. I had finished making a trailer for A Fool's Circle, and had written a feature-film script. But it was her dream to write a book, and when she died - through my grief - I decided to turn it in to a book."
Seddon lavishes praise on her friend Ken Scott - the Sunday Times Top Ten Bestselling Author - for helping to recalibrate the story from a script in to a novel.
"He gave me so many pointers," she says, "he'd call me up and say 'where's that chapter? Have you done that yet?'
"When I finished it, he said 'you pestered the life out of me, but I'm so proud of you!' He was as good as gold. He said next time I see you, just buy me a pint."
Seddon is hoping to raise the issue of domestic abuse and empower those who are going through it to speak out. She's seeking to boost the confidence of those suffering at the hands of a controlling partner and send them a message - you are not alone.
"I grew up in the 70s, and it was always around me. Years ago, that's what it was like. If you listened to the way that some men spoke to women, they'd say things like "ah, look at that fat cow!" - it's just the era that I was brought up in.
"I was called fat, ugly, I was no good at this, I was no good at that. If I was going on a night out, it was 'you look disgusting, who do you think you are?' Mental abuse can be worse than physical. Even though you knew it was wrong, it was a taboo subject."
Seddon is talking about such horrific experiences, and yet when we meet in an Angel café on Friday afternoon, she is chatty and couldn't be more friendly. The 51-year-old's pride and joy is clearly her daughter, Poppy-Willow (14), who arrives to say hello half-way through our chat.
For all that Seddon has been through, she's held down some fantastic jobs in her career. Aside from being a published author, Seddon has worked as a qualified swimming teacher, an air-hostess and, in the 90s, she owned a local pub called The British Lion.
"It's not there any more, but it was great! We used to have three bands on (per night) and a 2am licence. I was only 24; I think I was the youngest landlady in Islington."
Through combining elements of a self-help book with a thriller narrative, Seddon is looking to break through to people who might not realise they're actually experiencing abuse themselves.
"I think people need to understand that there are a lot of women - and men - who are going through domestic abuse and don't realise," she explains.
"A woman might walk in to a pub and her husband will say 'oh here she comes, the old wench', and he'll laugh with his mates - that is a form of mental abuse. You think if they're doing that in front of their mates, what are they saying behind closed doors?
"I'm trying to raise awareness and tackle it in a different way."
For all the difficult moments that Seddon discusses, her face lights up once more when there's a chance to speak about Harry Potter fan Poppy-Willow, who she lives with on Englefield Road.
"Poppy is old enough to understand - she's 14 going on 18 and is very intelligent. She said 'mum, I'm so proud of you, and nanny would have been also, and that really got to me. That's the reason I did it: I wanted to dedicate it to the both of them."
A Fool's Circle by Suzanne Seddon is available on Amazon now.