The Long Road Home by J H Morgan
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Thriller
Emily Winter has spent more than half her life hiding from her past and the demons that still reside in it. She has tried to hide her pain with booze and mindless sex, never letting anyone close.
When her social worker and the closest thing to a friend she’s ever had calls Emily for help, Emily knows she can’t say no. Paige’s daughter Casey had been kidnapped and held for days in a foreign land. Paige knows the only person who could understand what Casey is going through would be Emily.
Going back to the town she hated, Emily is confronted with her past in more ways than one. Besides trying to help Casey work through her trauma, Emily discovers someone remembers more about her past than anyone else in town, and that someone is eager to pick up where they left off.’In order for Emily to survive, she will have to confront her own demons, the ones in her mind and the real ones waiting to finish the job they started years before.
"Nothing less than a masterclass in the sculpting of a raw, emotional and thoroughly compelling work of fiction." The Scotsman
"A book that takes you on an epic, emotional journey of brilliance." Yorkshire Post
“How do you know when you’re not a victim anymore, when you’re suddenly a survivor?”
Emily lay back on the grass and stared at the evening sky.
“Have you ever been pulled out to sea by a rip current?” She asked Casey.
Casey shook her head.
“One second you’re just swimming around having fun and the next second a wave dumps you under and a violent current grabs you and tosses you around until you don’t know which direction the surface is.
You kick and you thrash, but you only seem to get more and more disorientated and you can’t breathe and you’re terrified.
Then you finally break the surface and take in a lungful of air and you become a survivor, and everyone thinks you’ve done it, that everything’s going to be okay now. But you haven’t. You’re still in the sea, desperately trying to stay afloat, the shore never quite within reach. Sometimes the undertow pulls you back under, and even when the water’s calmer, you’re having to kick and swim non-stop just to
breathe. The water’s still all around you, threatening to swallow you back in and take you under. Survival is just about trying to breathe. It’s not living, it’s just being alive and there’s a difference.”
Married to her best friend, journalist J. H. Morgan has three children under the age of seven and considers parenting to be the greatest adventure of her life. She lives in the tiny African kingdom of Swaziland, where she works full-time and writes in the middle of the night. After reading every book she owned or could borrow, she began writing her own stories.
Morgan's extraordinary life experiences and those of the people closest to her inspire her writing and give her valuable insight into the painful world of addiction. She completely understands the need to start life anew and the consequences such a decision triggers.
Where were you born / grew up at? What inspired you to write this book? I was born and grew up in South Africa but have spent my adult life in the Kingdom of eSwatini, (Swaziland). Southern Africa has had the highest sexual assault rate in the world for many years and at the moment, in South Africa at least, things are getting truly out of hand. I have yet to meet a woman in South Africa who hasn’t been affected personally by sexual violence. One of the things I’ve realized is that people who haven’t lived through it can’t begin to comprehend the depth of emotional and psychological damage sexual assault has on a person. There is no perfect recovery, and no matter how strong the person is, no matter the support system, the counselling, the life they manage to build after an assault, the victim is forever changed on every fundamental level. Regardless of age, it’s an innocence that’s taken away and can never be recovered. I find so often in books and media that the after-effects are smoothed over so people don’t have to deal with the brutal reality of life after sexual assault. One of the main messages I needed to get across in The Long Road Home was that recovery is hard. Living life after assault is messy and dark and sometimes downright awful. I wanted people to understand what these women live through and how it affects every aspect of their life. But more than that, and so much more important than that, I needed to show that no matter what you go through, no matter how damages you think you are, and despite the fact that you can never be the same person you were before, you can recover. You can find happiness, you can find peace with the new version of yourself. Overcoming a trauma like that is by far the hardest thing you will ever do, but living life the best you can and finding happiness is the best revenge you can ever have.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book? Tell us about the main characters – what makes them tick? Are you characters built of real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination? Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story? Every single character in The Long Road Home is based on someone I know, or in some cases, more than one person. I like to think there might be a small part of me in most of them, (not all of them I hope!) but for the most part, the main characters are built around the strongest, most incredible people I know. The three main characters, Emily, Paige and Casey were all meant to be slightly different in habits and experiences than how they turned out, but I found as I went through the process of writing their stories, their personalities and traits took on a life of their own, but their fundamental personalities are exactly as I hoped they would be and they are all three women I am proud to know in real life. My favourite character is Paige. Although she’s an incredibly strong woman who’s spent her life helping others and looking out for them, she also flawed and breaks down when she can no longer be strong for others. She’s so unequivocally human, so very much the true definition of a good and decent woman, who manages to see through the walls people put up and see the good in those who no longer see it in themselves.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favourite genre? Reading is my escape from reality, my relaxation and my favourite pastime. I can’t say I prefer any single genre, I read them all, mysteries, thrillers, romantic comedies, horror, fantasy… There’s not too many books I would say no to. I have a favourite author for every mood.
Do you try to be original or to deliver to readers what they want? I try to be as real as possible. I want readers to be able to connect with my characters on a personal and emotional level. I know this story is a little harsh, as some have said, it’s pretty brutal, but its gritty and real. The people are real and their emotions reflect that. At least I hope they do.
Do you believe in writer’s block? Yes! Absolutely yes! For me, the more personal a story is, the worse the writer’s block. There’s a catharsis in writing about something so deeply entrenched in your own life and your own story, but sometimes it makes sitting down and putting pen to paper incredibly hard. It’s more about getting your own mind round to the idea of sharing your most intimate thoughts with the world, about how you want to share it and how much of it you want to put down with a fictional spin. Writing The Long Road Home has been by far one of the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.
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