I am delighted to announce that Dark Avenging Angel is now out in paperback!
Thanks to the lovely people at Crossroad Press, I can, for the first time, hold this short novel in my hand and flip the actual pages. Result!
Dark Avenging Angel has had a bit of a history actually. In terms of publication, it started off at Samhain Press, and then migrated to Crossroad Press a few years ago, but always as an e-book so, when David Dodd suggested a print version I leaped at it. Almost literally as it happened as, while I was reading the email, my chair decided to perform one of its periodic rapid-descents-with-no-warning. Half in and had out of it I let out a whoop of equal parts delight and shock. I'll let you work out which reaction related to which event.
The story behind Dark Avenging Angel is complicated. In common with (I guess) most people of my age, I have had my fair share of ups and downs and emotional rollercoasters. But growing up in the Sixties and early Seventies, going into therapy of any kind was pretty much unheard of unless you were incredibly rich with lots of time on your hands. Any trauma that came along was supposed to make you stronger. You were supposed to simply 'get on with it' and 'pull yourself together'. And maybe the 'stiff upper lip' British tradition played a part as well. It simply wasn't British to complain about your lot and, of course, there was a stigma about anything relating to mental health. This was still the era of the 'loony bin' as mental health institutions of any kind were commonly referred to colloquially.
The term 'psychological abuse' was one I had never even heard of until I watched an episode of 'Oprah' back in 1988 and suddenly realized for the first time (yes, honestly) that what I had suffered all through my childhood actually had a name.
Dear reader, I was 34 years old when I watched that programme.
The baggage was heavy. What happens to you in childhood never goes away. Sometimes the damage is so deep it affects everything you do and, in my case, a crippling lack of self-confidence always held me back.
Now I had a name for what I had been through - at the hands of my father - I sought ways of resolving it. I realized I had never come to terms with it but even then (remember this was 1988), it still wasn't within my financial means to seek professional help which I would have had to finance entirely myself and which I would have had to find some way of squaring with an employer who would have seen it as a sign I maybe wasn't up to the job. Mental health issues were still not on the agenda even if Oprah was talking about them.
I had to find my own way. And that's when Dark Avenging Angel was born. Back then, it was nothing like the story you read today. That early version is long consigned to the garbage but the sheer act of drafting a story, giving my problems over to a character I created, and letting her deal with them in a way I would dearly have loved to, caused a major transformation in me. I found I was able to put things into context far more. I couldn't erase the past but I could at least go some way to consigning it to the past and move on with my life. I also found I was able to stop blaming myself and put the responsibility firmly in the hands of the adult who had abused the child. I wasn't the worthless, useless, stupid kid he told me I was.
Years later, I returned to this story. More emotional baggage had added itself to my unholy collection by that time so I simply expanded the story. Jane and her dark avenging angel had a lot more work to do. The story I ended up with would never have seen the light of day without significant changes, of course. Dark Avenging Angel is a work of fiction. Only the emotions are real.
Not all of us feel comfortable talking to others about our emotions and our psychological problems. For some of us, me included, I feel that the underlying problems that dogged me for much of my life emanate from so far in the past that I have found my own alternatives and they work for me.
If you feel you can relate to this, why not create your own dark avenging angel? Give all that baggage over to a character you create. Let them deal with it - along with a little demonic help of course. Or maybe your entity will be more godlike? Alien? Another animal species? I call it 'writing it out'. It's not a cure, but it is a coping mechanism and one that, for me, started with Dark Avenging Angel
Of course, life moves on and with it come more emotional upheavals and difficult mental challenges. When the next biggie came along - cancer - I knew what to do. And In Darkness, Shadows Breathe saw Nessa taking on the challenge. But that, as they say, is another story...
Bullied by her abusive father, Jane always felt different. Then the lonely child found a friend in a mysterious dark lady who offers her protection—a lady she calls her “angel”. But that protection carries a terrible price, one to be paid with the souls of those Jane chooses to suffer a hideous and eternal fate.
When Jane refuses to name another victim, the angel reveals her most terrifying side. Payment must be made in full—one way or the other.
“Cavendish breaks the mould and unleashes a hellacious, creepy tale with spirits, the tormented and an overall thread of redemption.”- Horrornews.net
"Dark Avenging Angel wasn't quite the novel I expected - it's something deeper, more well-rounded, and more emotionally relevant because of it." - Beauty in Ruins