Author says book is about forgiveness
When talking about her first novel, Released, and its protagonist, Ruth Callis, author Margaret Macpherson makes one thing clear: when she creates fiction; the characters come from her imagination.
“The joy of fiction is using the writer’s imagination. This is my character’s life. Not my life. I created Ruth, and she tells her story,” she says. “I never felt like I was carrying around the weight of the world, telling Ruth’s story.”
“I get up ad make sandwiches for lunch; then I enter her world. I engage and disengage. I have to.”
Even though Macpherson goes beyond writing what she knows, she enjoys writing what she knows, she enjoys writing about where she’s been. Treks through Bermuda, Central America, Mexico, Europe, and Australia all left a mark on Released.
“The book is all over the map: the East Coast, the Noth, Sudbury, Australia. And I really enjoyed writing about Yellowknife. Finding settings was the easy part.”
The award-winning author says that love, betrayal, and redemption are fundamental to all human characters. But Released emphasizes the element of forgiveness.
“To come to full humanity is to forgive. Anger doesn’t get you anywhere. My book is more a lesson than a warning. It’s about the notion that one must forgive in order to find freedom,” explains Macpherson.
Provocatively original, Released offers a series of life lessons, learned the hard way by the narrator, Ruth, who revisits her past after reading a newspaper clipping about a man who saved a drowning boy. Is this Ian, her abusive ex-boyfriend? Reflections, questions, and memories are triggered, pressuring Ruth to make peace with her past.
Macpherson says Released questions the moral impact of religion and personal domination. “Why do people get themselves into situations of violence? I found that the answer, at least for this character, lay in the indoctrination of selflessness. She is set up by the church. She sheds her sense of self. In the pretense of being selfless, she tries to take the place of God and become Ian’s savior.”
Macpherson wants people to believe in Ruth’s struggle. “I want them to see themselves. And if I can make them think–what more could I ask?”
Chronicling the human condition is not entirely new for this Edmonton author who has previously published one book of short fiction as well as several books of non-fiction. With a degree in creative writing from the University of British Columbia, Macpherson says her fundamental goal of writing a novel never wavered, although it took over a decade.
“I spent 11 years working on and off, writing this book. In the interim, I wrote five other books, so I wasn’t working on it exclusively. But I had to find a way to tell the story of violence against women. I kept going back to the story,” she says.
“It wouldn’t leave me alone.”