#GuestPost + #Giveaway by Catherine Evans #author of The Wrong’un @rararesources @fiction_junkies

I’m delighted to welcome Catherine Evans with a guest post and giveaway for my stop on the Blog Tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.

The Wrongun

Epigenetics and Generational Trauma

My first novel, The Wrong’un, is about a dysfunctional working-class family whose eldest son, Paddy, sets about destroying the lives of his siblings. He does this in various ways and for many conscious and unconscious reasons, all of which are outlined in the book, but one possible explanation for his behaviour is that he is a victim of generational trauma. The idea for this blog post comes from The Neglected Samurai: A Manual for Armchair Warriors Everywhere by Jurcell Virginia and Hideo Muramatsu, which will soon be published by Inkspot Publishing – see http://www.inkspotpublishing.com for more details.

We all know that trauma can be passed from one generation to another. “The sins of the father are to be laid upon the children.” Deeply entrenched historic sexism ensures no mention of mothers and daughters, but the principle applies to us all, as laid out so eloquently by Philip Larkin:

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.

They may not mean to, but they do.

They fill you with the faults they had

And add some extra, just for you.

~

But they were fucked up in their turn

By fools in old-style hats and coats,

Who half the time were soppy-stern

And half at one another’s throats.

~

Man hands on misery to man

It deepens like a coastal shelf.

Get out as early as you can,

And don’t have any kids yourself.

Paddy has had a tough life. He was given up for adoption at birth, and was brought up in ‘care’. By the time his mother reclaims him, the damage is done, and he joins a family where he is a distinct outsider. He doesn’t seem to need friends or validation from other people. He enjoys bullying and victimising his younger siblings. He becomes a source of serious tension between his mother and his stepfather.

Is his early childhood suffering the reason for his behaviour, or is he simply bad, a wrong’un? The cycle of trauma goes deeper than the usual nature/nurture debate. Trauma affects the genome. Severe trauma can alter your DNA, so that the next generation is affected by that trauma, whether they like it or not, whether they are aware of it or not. Even if children are taken from their biological parents at birth and are brought up in the most idyllic of environments; let’s say by Mary Poppins in Disneyland (shudder!), the damage is done even as they are conceived, and it manifests itself in multiple ways.

On the one hand, the idea is thoroughly depressing, as it dooms sentient beings to a kind of genetic bondage. Let’s say you’re Jewish, a member of a race which has been systematically persecuted throughout history, to the extent that millions of your kinsmen have been violently erased from the face of the earth. Or, perhaps you’re descended from a pauper born into a Victorian workhouse, or from slaves, from people forcibly taken from their homes and sold as a commodities. Imagine being born in captivity, not considered fully human, the legal property of a free man (or woman) who could buy or sell you at will. Deprived of nurturing care during infancy, of education while a child, of dignity and free will as an adult. Treated as an animal, punished for the slightest of transgressions, real or imagined, and worked so hard in such appalling conditions that the chances of making old bones were slender at best. How can this kind of trauma not be passed on to the next generation?

New insights into the genome lead to new understanding. It explains why some unfortunate souls suffer from crippling anxiety and depression, even in the absence of a discernible cause. Perhaps they are the unlucky inheritors of past trauma. 

We depend on our ancestors for far more than our physical characteristics and mental capabilities. Our happiness depends on their outlook and experiences too. Before we become depressed about the fact that we can’t change the past, we can seek to understand, and to seize on the opportunity to change the present and the future. Far from being stuck in genetic bondage, we can improve upon and even repair our genomic heritage (The Neglected Samurai explains how). In effect, it’s our duty to be as happy as possible, as we can then pass on this capacity for happiness to our children. Unless we take Philip Larkin’s advice, of course. 

Thanks so much for this fascinating post, Catherine

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wrong'unMeet the Newells, a big family of good lookers and hard grafters. From their sleepy working class backwater, the siblings break into Oxford academia, London’s high life, the glossy world of magazine publishing and the stratospheric riches of New York’s hedge funds.

Then there’s Paddy, the wrong’un in their midst, who prefers life’s underbelly.

As things fall apart around his sister Bea, is Paddy behind it all? And why does matriarch Edie turn a blind eye to her son’s malevolence? Will she stand by and watch while he wrecks the lives of her other children? Just how much is she willing to sacrifice to protect her son?

Purchase Links ~ Amazon UK | Amazon US

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The Wrong Un cevansCatherine Evans is the author of The Wrong’un, and Editor of fictionjunkies, which publishes book and short stories online by authors around the world. She’s a trustee of the Chipping Norton Literary Festival, and lives in Oxfordshire. She’s married with a daughter and three stepdaughters. 

Catherine Evans’s website is www.cathyevans.com. Her second novel, All Grown Up, will be released in the autumn.

Social Media LinksInstagram | Facebook | Twitter   

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Giveaway

Giveaway to Win 5 paperback copies of the book for a Book Club group (Open to UK Only) Please click the Rafflecopter link to enter

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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