Backstory to a Book by Victor Kline {Guest Post + INT Giveaway The House at Anzac Parade}

Today I welcome Victor Kline, who has written his memoir about very difficult subject matter which most people would simply want to block out of their minds. He gives us the backstory for writing his book. Victor is also offering up two copies of his book (1 paperback, 1 e-book), open international. 

About The House at Anzac Parade by Victor KlineAs a child Victor Kline was sexually, physically and emotionally abused by his mother. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, he went on to lead a diverse, exciting and often dangerous life. From medical guinea pig to Federal prosecutor to outback barrister. From provincial France to the highlands of New Guinea to dodging bullets in the Sri Lankan Civil War, The House at Anzac Parade is his story, and the story of his healing.

Backstory to a Book by Victor Kline

A lot of things have to come together before a book becomes a book. The journey for my memoir The House at Anzac Parade is no exception. Up till now I had only ever written fiction: novels, plays, short stories. I had never attempted non-fiction, let alone non-fiction about me.

A couple of years back I was talking with my agent and the publisher of my first novel about the possibility of doing a new novel. Some samples had been written and discussions were underway.
At about the same time I had just finished a new play called The Legionnaire which was set in Casablanca in 1956 during the Algerian War. The central character, Jean-Claude, was a forty- something battled hardened captain in the French Foreign Legion. He had carried a secret with him all his life. That secret was the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother as a child. He had been running from that horror ever since. The play chronicles his healing with the help of the love of his life Katherine Sullivan.

In Chapter 1 of The House at Anzac Parade this is how I describe what happened when cast and crew got together with me for the first reading of the play:

Jean-Claude and I have a lot in common. We were both sexually, physically and emotionally abused by our mothers. We both tried to suppress that memory by running away and plunging into a life of danger. In the end, after a long struggle with ourselves and the world in general, we both found a way to heal.

Jean-Claude healed because he abandoned the 'courage' of battle in favour of the courage to face the truth about himself. But more importantly he found the ultimate courage, to allow Katharine to love him and to teach him how to love.

Victor Kline onstage
{Photo courtesy}
The essentials of my own life have not been so different. I even found my own Katharine. So in truth Jean-Claude's story is my story. I hoped to conceal that fact by setting The Legionnaire in a different time and a different place with a central character superficially different from myself.

However when it came to the first reading of the play, the actors and crew immediately saw through all that. They wanted to know what had 'really' happened, what had really happened to me. For them, and for the others who have been loving enough to want to know, I am stepping out from behind Jean-Claude.

So I decided to consider the possibility of a memoir. It was a hard thing to contemplate. All the fiction I had written had been quite removed from myself. In other words I was never an autobiographical kind of fiction writer. Even when I did base something on my own life, in The Legionnaire, I did everything I could to conceal the fact. But if I did this memoir there would definitely be nowhere to hid.

However after much thought I eventually went back to my agent and publisher and said I would like to defer the new novel project in favour of the story of my own life. I explained that people who are abused tend to deal with that abuse in one of two ways: either they try to hide away, or they do the opposite and run headlong at life in an attempt to prove they are not afraid. Neither is a solution, but at least with the latter you can end up with a hell of a good story.

I explained that my own crazy, dangerous life would make your average fictional story look tame. I said I wanted to tell my story, firstly because I am a story teller, and thought I could entertain my readers with my own life far better than with anything fictional we had been tossing around. But most of all, I told them, I wanted to show those who had suffered abuse, that healing is a real possibility. I didn't want to lecture them or ask them to copy me. I knew every individual has their own journey. I just knew how important it is, when you are on the journey towards healing, to hear from others who have got there.

Both agent and publisher were a little reluctant to change course but agreed to keep an open mind. So I wrote an outline and a few chapters. They read it. They loved it. But they said it was too dangerous. They weren't prepared to risk on such a book. They said it would make too many people angry, and that the world wasn't ready to acknowledge that a woman might commit sexual abuse on her own son.

I was of course disappointed but I have been a writer for many years, and have worked inside the publishing industry. I had even run a small publishing company of my own which published mainly fiction back in the late 80s and early 90s. So I decided to resurrect Frances Allen Publishers, and, with the help of my darling Katharine, we did it ourselves.

I was terrified, of course. What if my agent and publisher had been right? What if the world wasn't ready for this? Nonetheless there was no turning back now. So I sent the page proofs out to some pretty influential people and held my breath.

Dr Michael Gliksman who is the Ethics Chair at the Australian Medical Association said it was 'a confronting, beautifully written book of searing honesty'. Hollywood Comedian Jackie Loeb described it as 'a book so enthralling, it has a pulse of its own. Amazing and utterly inspiring.' The Reverend Dr Ross Clifford AM, who is Dean of Morling Theological College said: 'This book will restore your soul. A remarkable, moving read.' Dr Kathy Kezelman, President of the peak body ASCA (Adults Surviving Childhood Abuse), described it as 'a rich journey which is as courageous as it is inspiring'. And finally actress Jane E Seymour was kind enough to put it this way: 'Bravery, courage and strength have many guises. Here is one.'

Today is actually official publication day, and so the publicity has not even begun. However thanks to the endorsement of people like those above, to dedicated bloggers like Aloi, and to the wonders of modern social media, we are already in Amazon's Top 50 Family Relationship Books. I'm still holding my breath, but the journey continues!

Victor Kline
15 October 2013

About Victor Kline

Victor Kline started his working life as Sydney's youngest barrister. He worked as a Federal prosecutor in Sydney before going on to become a defence barrister in the Northern Territory in its wild west days. Victor has also worked as a playwright, theatre director and actor off Broadway and in various parts of Australia. As well as New York and Central Australia, he has lived and worked in London, Paris, the South of France and New Guinea. He has returned home to Sydney to become Editor of the Federal Court Reports and Federal Law Reports, and lives with his wife Katharine and a little grey cat called Spud.

Check out his website or the book's Facebook page.

Giveaway Time!

Victor Kline is giving away 2 copies of The House at Anzac Parade
1 Kindle edition e-book & 1 paperback
Open International!

What others have to say:

“A confronting, beautifully written book of searing honesty, it is at the same time a highly readable, uplifting story of how one can overcome adversity and thrive. This book documents an inherent truth: the best revenge is to live life well.” - Dr Michael Gliksman (Chair, Professional Issues Committee, Australian Medical Association, NSW, author of Skink and Jewboy)

“A life so packed with living. There is not a dormant moment in Victor Kline's life. Obstacles, cruelty, triumphs, unfathomable pain, A book so enthralling, it has a pulse of its own. Amazing and utterly inspiring." - Jackie Loeb (Comedian, Writer and Entertainer, Los Angeles. Nominated for Best Comedy 2011 Hollywood Fringe Festival).

“This book will restore your soul. It’s a cathartic epic tale of an extraordinary personal pilgrimage, a journey through law, politics, writing, acting and faith. It shows that sexual abuse doesn’t need to win. In our age that searches for healing, redemptive and empowering stories, don’t miss this one. A remarkable, moving read.” - Reverend Dr Ross Clifford AM (President NSW Council of Churches, Principal Morling Theological College, author of Beyond Prediction, The Cross Is Not Enough, Riding the Rollercoaster)

"Victor Kline has delivered an eloquent honest and highly personal story, the constant thread of which is his ongoing struggle to make meaning of the compounded traumas of his childhood. Yet Victor’s story is ultimately one of hope and recovery, a rich journey, which despite the ultimate of betrayals is as courageous as it is inspiring.” - Dr Cathy Kezelman (President, ASCA - Adults Surviving Child Abuse, author of Innocence Revisited: A Tale in Parts)

1 comment

  1. Give me ten years, then perhaps I'll be able to write about my own life!


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