When I consider those who construct fictional worlds seemingly from thin air, I’m in awe. For the stories we read move us, touching us in deep places that perhaps nonfiction cannot reach – or at least in a strikingly different way. Claire Dunn shares how her five-book series explores some of the truths of the heart – including forgiveness.
And throughout all Eternity
I forgive you, you forgive me.
As our dear Redeemer said:
“This the Wine, and this the Bread.”
Fiona Lloyd wrote movingly last week about learning to forgive herself and knowing she is beloved by God with all her human flaws. This is something that has also preoccupied me as a writer as I explore the lives of fictional characters and reflect upon my own.
The need to forgive touches the very heart of us and is not merely a form of words, but an act of love and understanding. There are many calls on us to forgive: the ill-judged words that unwittingly wound, the book lent and not returned, the thank you letter unwritten – small things in themselves that leave no lasting sting, but still require a ‘sorry’ or a hug. But how can someone forgive a grievous offence, a life-changing event, or a slight intended to destroy?
This is something explored in The Secret of the Journal series, where young Emma D’Eresby has cocooned herself in her world of work as a historian. She is fleeing from her past and finds refuge in the lives of other people. History cannot hurt you, she says; it is dead and gone. However, detached from the world, she has failed to face the truth about her own past as if by leaving it unvoiced it would somehow be forgotten, and in being forgotten lack the potency to hurt. But, like a festering wound that needs to be scoured, Emma had to examine her relationships with her own history before she can finally heal.
Emma knows she is redeemed, she understands why, but she does not feel it deep inside, and she has come to rely on her own resources. She has built a fictional world around herself in which she can hide from God and from herself. Or so she thinks. Only when she is shaken from the safety of her bubble by a string of events does she begin to face the truth. Looking the demons of her past in the eye is the first step towards healing inside out, and she forgives those who have hurt her most. Yet, while Emma is able to forgive others, she reserves judgment for herself, for how can she be forgiven when she cannot look at God in case she sees condemnation there? She has missed the point.
I wrote The Secret of the Journal series as romantic mystery-suspense laced with history, but at its very heart lies a tale of acceptance, understanding, and forgiveness.
The act of forgiving is a gift. Forgiveness lies within for how can you absolve another if you have not first forgiven yourself? Love is not our own, but a state of grace bestowed on us by a loving God. Forgiveness is a two-way deal.
Writing as CF Dunn, Claire Dunn is a Christian novelist writing historical and contemporary suspense fiction for the general market. Her debut novel Mortal Fire – published by Lion Fiction – won the gold medal for adult romance in the Book Of The Year Awards, 2012, and was nominated for Best Novel by CRT in the same year.
Alongside her first loves of family, history and writing, CF Dunn is passionate about the education and welfare of children with dyslexia, autism and communication difficulties, and runs a special needs school, which she founded in Kent with her husband.
Book five of The Secret of the Journal series – Fearful Symmetry – was recently released in the UK and USA, bringing the series to a heart-stopping conclusion. She is currently writing the first book in a Medieval suspense trilogy and drinking too much coffee.