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Bringing Mary Shelley Out of the Shadows

14 June, 2010 | Comments Off

It’s official. Out of the Shadows comes out this Fall on September 7th. Hooray! If I was a Hollywood type, I would describe my new novel as “Possession meets The Constant Gardener.” For those of you who haven’t seen those movies (or read the books they’re based on), here’s the full blurb for Out of the Shadows

While unraveling the secrets of her DNA, one woman discovers a monster. The monster is the man she loves…

Thirty-four year old, Professor Clara Fitzgerald has been living in the shadows of her fiancé for too long. While her career seems stalled, his scientific research is on the cusp of a major breakthrough. Professor Anthony Greene is an ambitious geneticist, who is being courted by the top universities and powerful pharmaceutical companies. His fight against cancer in the laboratory doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for Clara anymore.

But when Clara stumbles on an old copy of Frankenstein and remembers her mother’s claim that they are related to the nineteenth-century author, Mary Shelley, everything changes.

With her beautiful but troublesome sister in tow and the help of Kay, a retired Shelley scholar, Clara begins a search for the author’s long lost journals and letters. This search reveals surprising facts about the passionate young woman who wrote Frankenstein, who was the child of two radical writers, and who eloped to Europe with a wild-eyed poet named Percy Shelley.

During her search, Clara also unearths shocking secrets about her fiancé. Like Shelley’s Victor Frankenstein, Anthony is on a secret quest to extend life – and this quest has driven him to cross ethical lines.

Told from alternating points of view between Clara and the young Mary Shelley who is preparing to write Frankenstein, Out of the Shadows is a tale of hubris and greed, passion and truth, loss and love. It is a story that spans two centuries and warns us about the age-old dangers of mixing ambition with the power of science.

So why did I decide to write a book about Mary Shelley? I’ve always loved Shelley’s Frankenstein. It’s a wonderful gothic novel, but it’s very thoughtful, daring, and extremely prescient too – even now, two hundred years after it was written. Frankenstein has had a huge cultural impact. It has inspired numerous novels, countless movies, and the name Frankenstein is known throughout the popular imagination. Newspapers talk of “Frankenfoods,” kids dress up as green-skinned monsters with bolts in their neck on Halloween, and Broadway audiences line up to see Mel Brooks’ musical Young Frankenstein.

In spite of this, many people don’t know that a nineteen year old woman called Mary Shelley wrote the original book. Fewer people still know anything about this woman who led a rich yet tragic life, who married the daring romantic poet called Percy Shelley, and who was the child of two radical writers, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. In Out of the Shadows I wanted to bring Mary Shelley out of the shadows of the monster she created!

I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

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