Dear Reader: a letter from Lia Middleton
When I first began working as a barrister, prosecuting daily, it struck me how the events that take place in the criminal courts are often stranger than fiction. People would behave in ways that readers would find unbelievable, and crimes would be committed that would leave consumers of fiction rolling their eyes at the outrageousness of the plot. And yet, it was all true, unfolding before my eyes, the evidence spilling out in response to my questions. So, the criminal courts have been a never-ending source of inspiration for my storytelling.
Your Word or Mine was borne out of two ideas colliding: what would happen if the victim of a violent sexual assault came face to face with the perpetrator years later, and he didn’t recognise her? And what if that victim was now a prosecutor? From those questions, Ava, and her younger self, Anabelle, were born.
There are a huge number of crime novels where the lead character is either a police officer or a defence lawyer. But it is rarer to find a prosecutor as the protagonist, and as I spent my first years practicing as a prosecutor, I knew that it would be the perfect role to place someone in a morally ambiguous scenario. What would a talented, perfectionist prosecutor do when faced with the opportunity to bring down the man who once assaulted her? How far would she go? What would she risk?
Through Anabelle, I also wanted to write a book that gave a distinct voice to so many young women who find themselves at the mercy of an older, more powerful man. Whether a stranger they cross in the street or someone they know well, as I prosecuted, I saw countless women and girls who were unable to counter the balance against a man who held all the cards. And our courts should always be the place where that balance can be struck – the place where the scales can fall in favour of the victim. But in so many cases, like in Anabelle’s, where it is one person’s word against another, juries cannot always be sure of someone’s guilt.
Whilst I have tried to give you a tense book, full of twists, that will keep you turning the pages, I hope that I have told the story of many survivors of violence in a way that honours what they went through.
Thank you for reading,