I started writing Precious Moon many years ago while I was travelling around South East Asia, having spent the previous few years alternating working in the UK with long trips backpacking around Europe, New Zealand, India and Asia. I was on my way to Japan, where I’d just accepted a job teaching English.
The primary theme of my story was displacement - that feeling of not quite feeling at home anywhere, and not really wanting to settle down in your place of origin either.
In Precious Moon, Katie and Alex both feel this, for different, fascinating and touching reasons. Katie won’t go back to Kenya, Alex stays away from England, and both decide to stay in Argentina, despite warnings from the British government that they should leave.
I initially chose to set the story in Argentina because it was a country I was fascinated with in a romanticised way, probably because of books I’d read and films I’d seen and music I’d listened to. As I researched more, I realised just how deep and profound the country’s history, and in particular recent history, was. Argentina was the perfect setting and backdrop for the story I wanted to write and themes I wanted to explore. The wars I wanted to incorporate in my story tied in perfectly with my aims, as well as the time frames linking it with the back flashes to Katie growing up in Kenya.
The story is set in 1982 and the Falklands War has just broken out. Living in a remote Andean village far from the hostilities down South, Katie and Alex can have no way of predicting how bitter the war will become, and how it will affect their lives, now that they are citizens of the enemy nation.
The Argentinean military Junta supposedly re-ignited the animosity with Britain over the sovereignty over the islands as a way of distracting its people from their disillusionment with their military rule, and to garner popularity. Argentina had been suffering under their rule of fear since 1976. Thousands of innocent civilians disappeared in the dead of night, never to be seen of or heard from again. The Junta denied the existence of any of The Disappeared, and any involvement with the missing people.
Precious Moon explores the traumatising affect of inexplicable disappearances on those left behind; children, parents, lovers all suffer this unanswerable loss.
But Argentina surrenders in the Falklands War, and its people are left bruised, bitter, humiliated, defeated, and anger towards the Junta leads it to step down, and a new nation free of fear can now rise up.
Katie and Alex’s friendships with some of the Argentinean villagers are tested and strained as they insist on remaining in the Andes, despite the fighting in the freezing South Atlantic Ocean. Precious Moon’s cast of strong characters are fiercely loyal to the country they believe in, and are prepared to fight for liberty from its oppressors.
As the story unravels with unexpected twists providing suspense and intrigue, the characters reveal their complexities, strengths and motivations, as ordinary people who survive and find a way forward in extraordinary circumstances.
Precious Moon is a light and easily readable read that deals with heavy and powerful issues of war, loss, disappearance, courage, escape and exile. It fluidly takes you backwards and forwards from Kenya in the 60s to England in the 70s to Argentina in the 80s in a manner evocative of the times and places.
It took me about seven years to complete writing, researching and publishing this story as I had an overwhelming necessity to get every detail right, out of respect to the countries and history I wrote about, and the people who would have lived through these eras.
Writing Precious Moon was a wonderful experience; challenging, enlightening and satisfying.
Now that I’ve published, I’m enjoying interacting with other readers and writers. Please feel free to connect with me on www.facebook.com/siobhanprattauthor or on twitter @siobhan_pratt