Monday, 6 October 2014

~Guest Post~ The Glass Heart Girl by Michelle Diana Lowe

My biography – Michelle Diana Lowe

My name is Michelle Diana Lowe. I started writing stories from the age of six and published my first book professionally in January 2014 at the age of 29.
I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature with Philosophy from Roehampton University and a recognised UK qualification in Information, Advice and Guidance. With this IAG qualification, I am able to give advice and guidance to clients in my job as a Children’s Centre Administrator. Often, I offer advice and support to women, particularly vulnerable women, who have experienced gender, sexual or domestic violence. I usually refer and signpost them to counselling, Family Support services and other relevant services and agencies. My first full length novel, The Glass Heart Girl, was inspired by the courageous women I come into contact with on a daily basis.
Originally, I published The Glass Heart Girl as an indie author in July 2014. But less than 2 months later, I was discovered by UK publisher, Britain’s Next Bestseller. This amazing publisher supports my mission to stop the violence against women and girls.
Not only is my mission to stop this violence. It is also a call to educate young people and adults more on this issue, increase services for victims and to end the stigma and humiliation, which is often pinned as a mark of shame, to survivors of gendered and sexual violence. 
You can visit my website here:

The Glass Heart Girl
Michelle Diana Lowe

What Is The Glass Heart Girl About?
The Glass Heart Girl tells the moving story of 20 year old university student, Alena Pavlis, a brave young survivor of gendered violence, who is on the emotional and challenging journey to recovery. Studying at the University of Leicester, Alena meets her soul mate, the gorgeous and honourable Phillip Gregson, whose love for her is so deep and true. Phillip, and best friend, Becca, become Alena’s support network, helping her to heal and move on. But since the horrific experiences she suffered as a teenager are still affecting her psychologically and preventing her from living a normal, healthy life, it is so hard for her to let go and embrace Phillip’s love. But ultimately, Alena must find a way to banish the past forever on this momentous journey towards recovery and welcome Phillip’s love, before it is too late…
Can she fight to save her future? Or will she be lost forever, eternally plagued by the ghosts of yesterday?  

Why Did You Write The Book?
My whole life, I have always had a strong desire to help others, to champion under-represented groups in society and to raise awareness of important subjects such as gendered violence and equal opportunities for women.
When doing background research for The Glass Heart Girl, it shocked me to learn that in the UK, 400,000 women were victims of sexual violence in 2013, 85,000 of these women being rape victims. Furthermore, the statistics show that 1 in 5 women (aged between 16 - 59) have been sexually assaulted at some point in their life from the age of 16. (Figures from Rape Crisis England and Wales). These are absolutely horrendous figures! Discovering this made me even more determined to get the message across that gender and sexual violence is not only immoral, but illegal too, and it needs to stop now! No woman should be threatened with violence and no woman should ever be faced with violence either. 
In my job, I see first-hand what violence can do to women. Being victims of such terrible acts can affect women physically, emotionally and psychologically, leaving them vulnerable, nervous and unable to trust again. In some cases they can have physical as well as mental scars, as a result of the violence carried out. It makes it ten times worse when the woman knows her attacker, or is in a relationship with that person. Whether or not a woman knows the perpetrator, the process of healing and recovery can be a difficult journey. A proportion of these women can also develop mental illnesses and psychological conditions, as a direct result of being attacked or abused. Nevertheless, with the right help and support and a good support network around them, many of these victims can successfully rebuild their lives.
So, raising awareness of these courageous women’s experiences, giving them a literary voice and empowering them is so important. Society needs to do more to protect women. But before we find the cure, we need to identify the problem. The Glass Heart Girl elucidates how and why sexual violence happens and how women can overcome their fears and traumas. But it also tells society what it needs to do to ensure women are better protected from these horrible acts of violence.

Character Analysis of Alena Pavlis

ALENA PAVLIS (The Protagonist)
Age: 20
Height: 5’ 8’’

Hair Colour: Brown

Eye Colour: Green

Place of Birth: London, England

Nationality: British

Ethnicity: Greek

Relationship Status: In a relationship with Phillip Gregson

Best Friend(s): Becca and Emma

Place of Study: The University of Leicester, United Kingdom

Subject(s) of study: Psychology

Favourite hangout: The Botanic Gardens, where she lives at the university.

Home Town: Her original hometown is Brent Cross, North London. But her family had to move to Sutton, Surrey, after being shunned and ostracised by the community, following the harrowing adolescent experiences that Alena had.

Important fact(s) about this character: She is a victim of gender-based violence, who is trying to recover and rebuild her life. But letting go of the past is not as easy as it sounds.

More about Alena's character:

Alena Pavlis is a beautiful but broken 20 year old woman, a somewhat introverted female, who is trying to heal from a traumatic childhood. She is a young woman, previously attacked by a high school teacher at the age of fifteen and left for dead on the sidewalk... She could have died that fateful night, if it wasn’t for a kind young man who saved her life. Now in her early twenties, Alena is trying to forget the terrible events of her past and move on. Though getting the ghosts out of her head and life forever, is proving very challenging, because she is haunted by what happened to her by Brent Cross Station half a decade ago. No matter how hard she tries, Alena is unable to move forward and let go of the pain. The psychological scars of the abuse she suffered are evident throughout the novel. But also, her desire and determination to banish her demons is so touching and inspiring. She won’t give up, even when it seems all hope is lost.

Whilst attending the University of Leicester, she meets the man she’s been waiting for her whole life, the dashing and undeniably delightful, Phillip Gregson. Nonetheless, Alena’s dark fears are consuming her – and these anxieties and apprehensions have led to her developing both genophobia and agoraphobia. Still, there is a fighter in this young woman, and she will keep working on getting better and having a regular life, where abuse no longer defines who she is.
The support network around Alena is the key to her recovery. Not only is her boyfriend able to support and bolster her, as the relationship faces its tests and trials. But also, Becca, her best friend, who she has a deep and strong connection with, is able to guide and succour her, slowly coaxing Alena out of her incapacitating and claustrophobic shell. Alena can confide in Becca more than she can Phillip, as she feels safe and comfortable with opening up to another female close to her heart.
If The Glass Heart Girl ever becomes a movie, the celebrity who should play Alena Pavlis is: 

Elizabeth Gillies

Why should you read my book
This book gives gender violence survivors a real voice, for the first time in a long time. By reading this novel, you are helping to bring these brave women’s experiences to the forefront, and helping to reduce the stigmatisation and marginalisation that gender violence victims can face in their communities, as well as in the wider society. Reading this book could help a survivor or help to support a survivor. This book could even help to break the cycle of violence and save a life.

Where My Book Is Available
I have signed a Publishing Agreement with Britain’s Next Bestseller. If 250 people pre-prefer my book by 28th November 2014, it wins a publishing contract. The Glass Heart Girl is such an important book that highlights the growing problem that is gender violence, and gives hope to survivors. Please get behind this book and help it win the book deal. This is not just a book; it is a statement to our society. Women have the right to be safe without the threat or fear of violence, and women deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Please help raise awareness of gender violence and pre-order The Glass Heart Girl today from BNBS:
What I'm working on now . . . .
I’m working on the follow up book to The Glass Heart Girl, which shows Alena’s life a year on. Will her life be perfect in a year’s time? Or will a familiar face from the past come back to win her heart? A kind face she secretly admired, but didn’t realise it before. A face that she could never forget… 

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