G.L. Helm is the author of the newly released novella, Sometimes In Dreams, a beautifully written, tragic story of love, loss, betrayal and devotion. We asked him for a little feedback about reader feedback, and here’s what he had to say.
Feedback: What Happens When You Don’t Agree With It?
Sometimes in Dreams has been problematical from the very beginning. I love the book. The story is very close to my heart, and I thought and still think, that the characters are all admirable and very real in their own ways. Daniel is a romantic idiot as most writers are, and because of his romantic nature gets caught up in a sort of Shakespearean affair. Kit is beautiful but doesn’t really know it. She has been abused over the years, both subtly and visibly, so she is astounded by Daniel’s attention. Then there is Amanda, who is the very epitome of true love.
Scripture from the Bible says that love “forgives all things, and endures all things,” which is what Amanda does. She is a Christian, but on a less philosophical and more personal level. She loves Daniel deeply and passionately, and has done so for thirty years. They have stood together through good times and bad, and she simply cannot see her life without Daniel even though he has hurt her deeply. She stays with him knowing that he is wounded, perhaps mortally, by Kit’s death. She knows he is on the edge of death by his own hand, and so she stays with him to keep him alive.
The feedback I have received from female readers is: “She is stupid! Why does she stay with this guy when he has ruined her life? I would have walked out and to hell with him. Let him die.”
I have real trouble believing that a woman who has loved a man for thirty years would simply walk out. There are examples all over the world of women staying with men who are rendered helpless due to accidents, or physical or mental illness. I believe Daniel falls into this last category. He is deeply mentally ill, swallowed up in depression. Amanda recognizes this and stays with him. Please understand that she is not some kind of masochist either. There are times when she thinks What the hell am I doing here? And many times when she wonders if she’s doing the right thing by staying. As with all human relationships, there are times when she hates Daniel, but in the end her nobility, and her love keeps her with him.
When I get critiques like what I received above, I wonder if these women are not selling themselves short. I think there is more graciousness and humanity in the female of the species than the “to Hell with him” school of thought shown by my reader feedback. Or perhaps I have just been wrong in thinking the female of the species to be more humane than the male. Daniel has never, until his transgression with Kit, hurt Amanda. He has fought beside her and for her. And continues to fight for her and reinforce her belief in herself though it has obviously hurt him and their children through the years. She has volunteered to go into situations where she was in danger without giving a thought to Daniel or their family.
I understand that there are times when a woman needs to simply walk away and not look back, but we hear of many women who stay in situations riddled with abuse, both physical and psychological. These are the women who need to walk away—to run away. Those are marriages of fear not love. Amanda and Daniel’s marriage was a marriage of love.
In the end the reader will be the judge. My only request is that once the book is finished, the reader stop and think; try to feel and understand both Amanda and Daniel.
Sometimes In Dreams
Daniel Pentland is a broken man; torn between the two women in his life. He is tormented by guilt over his love affair with a beautiful English girl he met while living in Italy, and the loyal devotion of his wife, Amanda.
Two years after the tragic death of his lover Kit, he is continually haunted by her memory. Across the sands of the Mojave Desert, her voice calls out to him, pulling at his heart and his memories.
Each night as Daniel wakes screaming and fighting against the phantom of Kit’s killer, his wife does her best to soothe his pain and help him overcome his grief.
Sometimes in Dreams is a story of redemption through a love that simply refuses to die.
G. Lloyd Helm is a ‘ne’er-do-well scribbler’—novelist, short story writer and poet—who has tramped around the world for the last forty years thanks to his long suffering military wife. He has lived in Germany, Spain, and Italy. His epitaph will read, “He married well.”