How could you write about THAT?

When I started writing my debut novel, I knew I wanted part of the story to include a stalker. Perhaps naïvely, I didn’t consider how this subject might stress some people.  But, if writers thought about upsetting people, they wouldn’t write anything.

We wouldn’t have horror stories, or thrillers, violent murder mysteries, or many, many stories that cover subjects, that for some people are fascinating, and others incredibly upsetting, because they have been involved in that situation, or know someone who has.

‘He is Not Worthy’ has two, potential subjects to which people could react negatively.

One is the teacher-student relationship. Some people are shocked, some disgusted and others don’t find it so offensive.

The second is fact I’m writing about a stalker, and stalkers are evil, aren’t they?

 Part of my choice to write about a stalker, was because they are always portrayed as almost inhuman, depraved individuals in TV series and films.  And there is no denying that there are those people out there, who are just either highly damaged, and or have become so mentally unstable that they do horrific things, and make other people’s lives a nightmare.

Tackling the second point first, my stalker is someone who is basically suffering from ‘attachment disorder’.  I wanted to show him as someone who had been devoid of real love and affection, from his mother and when, on a day he has been given life changing news, someone shows him kindness – he then fixates on her.

Many readers have mentioned in their reviews how, initially they felt sorry for him, but then changed their mind as his stalking escalates. Other’s found him creepy from the start.

One reader totally understood where I was coming from, and I’m very grateful for her review:

“As a foster carer I have learned a lot about “Attachment Disorder” and how our early life experiences underpin how we form our Attachments as we go through life. In the book you took great care to frame Ben’s early life and how it was devoid of any kind of real love and affection and this impacted him when he was in school – his inability to form relationships hindered him but when somebody showed him some kindness as Rhi did it was like a beacon of warmth and light for him……his actions are coming from what he believes to be a place of kindness and looking after Rhi whom he believes is his “future” it would never occur to him that his behaviours could possibly be viewed as obsessive and dangerous. Thank you for taking the time to write about Ben in the way you did and not sticking to the time honoured method of creating a traditional baddie to be hated. A beautiful story with lots of heart”.

I felt so pleased that someone actually understood Ben.

The second problem in my book: the teacher – student relationship, that I know did bother some readers.

I have several comments from readers

“I must admit to having some negative feelings at the beginning of the book about the relationship between Rhi and Josh, but I persevered with the book and I am very glad I did. The descriptions of the characters and their relationships were vivid and relatable and I was soon engrossed in the twists and turns of the story line”.

Another reader who understands the characters:

“Hardly a few pages into He Is Not Worthy I realized that this book might be about a teacher ~ student relationship. The Last such book I read was about a teacher and teen student with a thirty year age gap. I was disgusted by the book not the least because there was nothing likeable in the main characters.
However, Rhi Dobbs, the teacher in He Is Not Worthy is extremely likeable. This is absolutely NOT A BOOK ABOUT GROOMING. Rhi fights to cover up her attraction for 18 year old Josh but when he makes the first move she melts. Rhi does not live in a dream world and 8 years older she is aware that she is in the wrong and for a long time she keeps waiting for the other shoe to drop and her perfect relationship to end.
He is Not Worthy tackles two difficult relationships ~ a teacher and student in love on one side and a stalker at the other end. What I love about this author is she doesn’t set about make anyone a villain. She shows you how there are compelling reasons for the way people behave and why certain things happen”.

And someone who obviously had no trouble with the age difference:

“My Thoughts: I love a book about a taboo relationship so this sounded right up my street!

Although it didn’t quite hit the mark for me on that part, although the smut we did get was

Spicy I couldn’t help but feel there wasn’t enough of it”.

Plus, this difference-in-age relationship is what upset my stalker in the story – that the woman of his dreams is with a younger man.

My own husband is 12 years younger than me, and no, I didn’t meet him when I was a teacher. When I was a teacher, I would not have considered breaking the roll of ‘in loco parentis’.  It is not illegal to do out with an 18 year old, just not considered correct, and definitely when that pupil is in your charge. It is illegal when grooming is involved. But, as a young teacher, you are only around 23/24 and your senior pupils are 18 – which is quite close.

However, I do know of several people who have married past pupils, not long after they left school and the relationships have lasted.  And it certainly didn’t bother President Macron, whose wife was a teacher in his school and is 24 years his senior. They met when he was 16, and they married when he was 29.

A very serious point: for those of you who do have problems with unwanted attention, I recently came across a life-saving app, called Hollie Guard. It is appropriate for individuals of all ages, and businesses. Hollie Gazzard was murdered by her ex-partner, and following her death, her father set up this app. Read how it supports people here:

If you’d like the read ‘He is Not Worthy’ and make up your own mind about the issues, you can order it here: