October 1 2015
Former investment banker and now writer, broadcaster and psychotherapist, Lucy Beresford, has released her third book, ‘Invisible Threads’; a thrilling exploration of women’s issues in India which was recently shortlisted for the Rubery International Book Awards. Ahead of her appearance at Asia House next week talking about the plight of women in India, our correspondent caught up with her…
By Tasha Mathur
In the novel, the central character Sara, thinks her husband has died in Afghanistan but later finds out he was actually killed in India. Her desire to find out what really happened, takes her to Delhi to uncover out the real story. Whilst working at a clinic there, Sara, a psychotherapist, starts to get caught up with her female patients’ stories and eventually, one of her patients gets kidnapped. What turned out as a quest to find out what happened to her husband has now led Sara down the path of the India’s sex trafficking industry where she learns of a darker side to Delhi that few get to see…
www.asianculturevulture.com (ACV): Where did the idea of ‘Invisible Threads’ come from?
Lucy Beresford (LB): In the book, Sara [the protagonist] falls in love with her driver in India, which is obviously a taboo subject. And that’s what happened to me…I fell in love with India. I first went there to work in 1994 and then did a clinical placement in 2003 and I can remember saying at the time, ‘My God I would love to write about this country and about how amazing the women are, how incredible the food is, and everything.’ I have subsequently worked with women in clinics and charities so that was the second thing. But my first driving force was my love of India.
ACV: And are there other ways you see yourself in the main character, Sara?
LB: No. I think Sara is much more ballsy than I am! I’m task oriented while she’s more pushy. When it came to finding out about her husband, I had to really think hard about the kind of things she would do because I didn’t know how I would be. I’m sure if it was my husband, I really would pull out all the stops but I had to work quite hard to think about all the obstacles she would face. She never gives up and that becomes quite a key message in the book…to never give up. Because towards the end, she does become quite deflated but she never gives up on her patients.
ACV: Are there other messages that you hope to convey to your readers through ‘Invisible Threads’?
LB: Well, the other thing to remember is to never judge anyone. Never imagine you know the full story because the chances are, if somebody looks like they’re not trying or are being a particular way, there’s usually another side to the story. And my novel is very much to get people to tell their stories. Listen to the stories that your friends and families are telling you.
ACV: With the issue of sex trafficking being such a taboo subject in India, did you face any resistance when it came to speaking to people about this topic?
LB: Yes, there was some resistance. I definitely had a situation where I was talking to some Indians and they really didn’t want to talk about it as a subject. And it was around about the same time that the documentary, ‘India’s Daughter, was trying to be broadcast on BBC and the Indian Government were being very hostile towards this.
A lot of the publicity for my book was happening around this time. So we were approaching places like the Times of India and they were a bit more nervous about it.
However, it’s going to be published in India through an Indian publisher in January. And I went to the Jaipur Literature Festival earlier this year and 99.9% of the people I spoke to said: ‘This is a story that needs to be told.’
India is changing and there are more people who want these stories to be told. In the end, we had two (Indian) publishers who wanted it at the same time. We were hitting the sweet spot at the right time.
ACV: How did you come up with title, ‘Invisible Threads’?
LB: ‘Invisible Threads’ was given to me by my friend, Laurel Remington, who I’ve actually dedicated the book to. I wanted to have a title that hinted at the psychological layers of all the characters but there’s also a section in the book which is all about fabric and material and Sara often feels like she’s unravelling. So there are lots of different echoes that I think made Laurel come up with that title and as soon as I saw it, I knew this is perfect. The dust jacket has lots of fabric on it with a bit of sari and it looked a bit sensual and mysterious, so I knew that was perfect as well.
ACV: From your experiences of working with the Rescue Foundation ( a charity dedicated to fighting sex trafficking) in Delhi, what is your view on the current issue of women trafficking in India?
LB: There’s definitely progress but it’s really slow with such a large country and so many people living below the poverty line. There are key financial imperatives behind a lot of people sending their daughters or sisters into this kind of industry. Sometimes, when the girls are rescued and the families are contacted again, they don’t want to know. They don’t want their daughter or sister back. Partly because they fear the woman will be tainted and because they need the income that she brought in. So until we sort that out, it’s going to be really, really difficult.
Main picture: Lucy Beresford with a friend at the Delhi flat, like the one her main character Sara moves to when she arrives in India
Lucy Beresford will be speaking about ‘Invisible Threads’ on Tuesday, (October 6) 6.45pm-8pm, at Asia House, 63 New Cavendish St, London W1G 7LP http://asiahouse.org/events/invisible-threads-women-india/
Beresford’s first book is the novel “Something I am not” (Duckworths), centred around women who don’t want to have children. Her second book, in the self-help/advice genre is “Happy Relationships: at home, work & play” and is drawn from her work as a practising psychotherapist. She also hosts a weekly two-hour sex and relationship phone in show on LBC radio and is an agony aunt for Healthy magazine.
To purchase ‘Invisible Threads’, please visit: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Invisible-Threads-Lucy-Beresford/dp/0704373858
To find out more about Lucy Beresford, go to: http://lucyberesford.co.uk/