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He Loved and Hated that Man

L.M.   Brown
L.M. Brown Author Interview

Hinterland follows Nicholas who must care for his daughter and wife amid dramatic events. What was the inspiration for the idea behind this novel?

Hinterland took eight years to write. It went through a lot of stages of development, but the story was always about the incident that occurred when Kate was a child and the consequences that had on her relationship with Nicholas. The inspiration came with Kathleen. I remember the first time she appeared on the page and she was such a strong character there was no ignoring her. It took many drafts to get her back into a corner, and to let Kate have a bigger part.
With Hinterland, it was little snippets that inspired me. The scene where Kathleen’s dresses are spaced apart in the wardrobe and Nicholas and Kate stand before them, feeling the reality of her absence has stayed throughout, and I believe when I wrote that one scene the story started to unfold.

Nicholas is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?

The question, can a person change, was a driving force behind this novel- Also there is the notion of the cycle of abuse and our ability and need to change it. From the start, Nicholas’ childhood was marred by his father’s drinking and violence. He loved and hated that man. Nicholas would have wanted acknowledgement from his father, but he was also afraid of becoming a man just like him. This duality is what drives Nicholas. This aggression that simmers under the surface and his gentle love for his daughter are two very separate parts of him, though both scare him.

The former because an act of violence years ago cost him the love his life. While his love for his daughter makes him feel small and helpless. There were a few times over the years where I questioned if I liked Nicholas. Ultimately, I believe the mistakes he makes are done for the right reasons but is very much up to the reader to agree or disagree.

One reviewer wrote that she felt an air of evil around Nicholas, another wrote that he was a caring and loving father, and neither interpretation surprises me since Nicholas’s actions are open to interpretation.

The novel explores many different kinds of family issues. What were some themes you wanted to focus on?

From the very first draft of Hinterland, I wanted to examine how childhood trauma can affect the adult. At first, Kate was a young woman trapped in a bad marriage, and to gain the strength to escape her controlling husband, she needed to understand what happened with her mother, but it didn’t take long before I realized I had to start with Kathleen and Nicholas and move on from there.

The novel also examines the harmful consequences of keeping secrets in a family, especially regarding mental illness and how quickly we can judge those who suffer from mental illness. Nicholas felt that Kate would be better off without her mother, but he was not the first person to suggest this. How can we make these assumptions? Are we correct? Would Kate have been better growing up with her moods and unpredictable behavior or shadowed by her absence? Can we assume what is best for the children in these circumstances? These themes as well as the question of whether or not a person can change pushed the story forward.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I recently finished “Our Wandering’ which is examines memory and how we choose to remember details.

It’s set in Ireland. Mona’s younger sister Stace ran away for the first time when she was thirteen, but it wasn’t the last time. The family were constantly afraid Stace might take off. When Stace runs away again at twenty-two, Mona searches for her, while questioning what happened when they were children. Through memory and searching, Mona begins to unravel the truth and paint a picture of her sister that is completely different to what she once believed.

My agent has the book. Hopefully, we’ll be hearing something soon, but there is no date set now.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Nicholas Giovanni’s life revolves around his five-year old daughter Kate. When he isn’t driving his taxi, he is taking care of her and her mother Kathleen, whose last involuntary admission to hospital was while pregnant. Tension start to rise with the return of Ina, Nicholas’ childhood best friend, to the house next door. Kathleen doesn’t trust her or Nicholas. Already unstable, Kathleen’s suspicions culminate in a day of violence, and Kathleen’s disappearance.Kate’s life is shattered by her mother’s desertion. No-one will tell her where Kathleen is. Although Ina is like a mother to her, Nicholas keeps her at arm’s length. He cannot bring himself to tell Kate or Ina the truth about Kathleen’s last day, until Kate runs away, and he realizes his silence has torn everyone apart. To find Kate and to keep Ina in his life, there are truths he must face, if it’s not too late.


Hinterland by LM Brown is about Nicholas Giovanni and his love for his daughter Kate. That love is apparent throughout the novel. Kate’s mother, Kathleen, is mentally unwell and the arrival of Ina, Nicholas’s childhood best friend, sends her over the edge. Violence ends with Kathleen admitted to the hospital. Nicholas can’t bring himself to tell Ina the truth about Kathleen’s last day, nor can he tell Kate the truth about where her mother is, and this secret ultimately causes Kate to run away. Kate running away forces Nicholas to confront these truths.

Hinterland is about dysfunctional families and mental illness. Understanding mental illness is important, yet we still live in a world where it has a stigma attached. This book explores that stigma. The opening has a very gloomy feeling, which for me captures the way Nicholas seems to feel. His entire life centers around driving his taxi and his daughter and not much else. With the return of Ina and Kathleen being admitted to the hospital, it ought to have been an opportunity for Nicholas to come out of the gloom. But he seems afraid to do that and is weighed down by the burden of what happened the day Kathleen was admitted to hospital. I struggled to find a connection to Nicholas. I could sympathize with Ina, with her frustrations at being back with the man she loves, yet only being fed breadcrumbs from him. She almost has a family life with the relationship she develops with Kate, yet Nicholas keeps her at arm’s length, his secrets building a barrier between him and all those he loves.

The pace of the book is slow, building up the tension to the end of the book when Nicholas must try to rescue his family. I found the first half of the book to be slow, but I understand that was necessary to build the story. I think there was the potential for more drama and conflict, although given his past, it seems apt that Nicholas strives to avoid this. He is a silent, brooding character, keeping many parts of himself locked up, even from those who love him. I would have preferred to see Nicholas open up a little more though, he was difficult to connect with. The book does a great job of trying to portray the difficulties involved in living with mental illness in the family.

Pages: 338 | ISBN: 1947917587

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