Inspiration behind Redemption Road by Lisa Ballantyne

A JOURNEY FROM THE PAST TO THE PRESENT: 
Lisa Ballantyne on the inspiration behind her new road trip novel, Redemption Road.

Redemption Road high resI’ve always loved travelling, have lived overseas and am never more happy than when I am on the road. My first solo journey was when I was 16 – travelling from Austria by train across what was Czechoslovakia to the then Deutsche Democratic Republic. It was the year that the Berlin Wall came down and the trip also opened up a whole new world for me. I caught the travel bug then and it seems as if I have never been able to settle since. I have been all over now: Africa, the Middle East, North and South America, not to mention Asia where I lived for just over six years.

It was therefore natural for me to pitch the characters of my second novel on a journey. George, the soft touch of a family of Glaswegian gangsters, steals his little girl and together they embark on a road trip from John O’Groats to Lands End, literally and symbolically from tip to the tail of Britain, chased by a maniacal and righteous journalist. In writing the 1980s scenes, I wanted the relationship between father and daughter to gradually soften as the road trip progresses, from one of captor and captive, to one of genuine affection and love.

As with my first novel, The Guilty One, this book emphasizes nature and nurture – good and evil. George and his family of Glaswegian gangsters came to me instinctively. I was attracted to the idea of someone growing up amid great violence but refusing to be inured by it. George is an example of the tragic questing hero, struggling to escape his environment and ultimately himself. I think George is the soul of this novel, and his failure is heart-breaking.

Once again, children and childhood is emphasized. In my writing, I always return to relationships between parents and children because it is such fertile ground. Families in general are a wonderful resource for novelists, but children in particular are useful because they are so truthful. I was also interested in the child, Moll, teaching her newfound father something – as all children are important teachers of adults. It was then that I hit on the idea of George being illiterate because of the institutional violence that he had experienced at school. Moll’s patient teaching not only liberates George but also repairs some of the damage that was done in his past.

All novels involve a psychic journey for the characters and in this novel the road trip itself is a mechanism for change. Redemption Road does not employ realism to the same extent as The Guilty One. The novel has a fable-like quality with large symbols, heroes and villains. Suspension of disbelief is nurtured as we explore the truth about family and love and the potential for change.

I really enjoyed writing this novel, and allowing my characters to visit the many sights and changing landscapes of Scotland and the British Isles. It is my great hope that readers will also appreciate the internal journey the characters undertake as they strive for redemption in their different ways.

 


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4 Responses to Inspiration behind Redemption Road by Lisa Ballantyne

  1. Eileen Eggleshaw says:

    I have just finished reading Redemption Road and have thoroughly enjoyed it. The setting of Thurso was also interesting as my Dad was to be posted there to work at Dounreay. Unfortunately he was posted elsewhere and at time we left Scotland and came to live in England. Your book was one of those I really didn’t want to finish and I must say that I would love to read what became of George when he left Moll. Perhaps you could write another story about him, or just whisper it in my ear 🙂

    I am now going to read your previous novel and am looking forward to reading more of your writing.

    All best wishes Eileen

    • admin says:

      Hi Eileen
      Just to say thanks so much for taking the trouble to write to me about your thoughts. So grateful to you for reading and I am delighted that you enjoyed!! I will keep fingers crossed that you enjoy The Guilty One too. Nice you have a connection to Thurso. Take care and thank you again,
      Lisa

  2. Stephanie Largan says:

    I finished ‘Everything she forgot’ (the US title for Redemption Road) a week ago. I finished it in less than a day. I may have stayed up past 2am but I HAD to finish it. Some parts were so hard to read I had to have a break (Quality Street were still available post Xmas as I had hidden some from my kids) – the descriptions of George’s being so mistreated…. both at school and at home (I am a leftie but child of the 70s)… the prose was so spot on I winced as I read it…. (like watching Casualty with a cushion close at hand)… But it was an AMAZING read…
    My 12 year old son often asks me the synopsis of books I have liked. I was explaining this one to him tonight (had to explain ‘loan shark’) – he was INTRIGUED. Begged me to let him read it. Told him when he is older. It has stayed with me days later this book…..
    Looking forward to Lisa’s 3rd novel.

    Stephanie (also studied at St Andrews!)

    • admin says:

      Dear Stephanie
      Thanks so much for reading. I am so glad that you enjoyed it so much. And finished in less than a day! Really grateful to you for letting me know your thoughts. New book hopefully very soon. And that’s nice that you also studied at St Andrews. Very windy there right now, I think!
      Take care and many thanks, Lisa

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