A Couple of Baby Owls.

Last time in my series of posts where I look at how major life events have shaped my writing, I wrote about a satisfying way I got revenge after being cruelly and suddenly dumped by the man I thought was the love of my life. This time I’m writing about something else I did to help me survive and thrive in the aftermath – I attended a course called Rebuilding When Your Relationship Ends. (I used such a course recently in my novel The Dare Club, only I renamed it the Lift Up course).

One of the best things about the course was that I was in a room full of people who knew exactly what I was going through because they were going through it too! Friendships were quickly formed, and wild nights out arranged. We boogied together, rode on the back of fast motorbikes (well, I did!), but mostly, we talked, we listened and we cried.

The course covered many things, but one of the sessions that has really stuck in my mind was the session on the different relationship styles. They were illustrated with drawings of stick people, and I’ve attempted to reproduce them here from the book that accompanied the course. Please excuse the quality of my drawings!



Master/Slave Relationship – speaks for itself!




Martyr Relationship – 1 person always making sacrifices for the other in a controlling, emotionally blackmailing way.


Pedestal Relationship – Loving someone for who you think they are rather than who they are. Hard to live up to?



Dependency Relationship – holding each other up. But what if one wants to move? The other will fall over.



Smothering Relationship – Is this what we think is the ideal? That special in love feeling? Feels great for a while.



Back-to-back Relationship – still joined, but leading virtually separate lives.



Healthy Relationship – 2 people happy within themselves, choosing to be together out of love.

My relationship that broke up was somewhere between a Pedestal Relationship with a touch of a Master/Slave relationship thrown in! In my novel The Dare Club, which is about what happens when 4 very different people meet at a Lift Up Course Colette has a similar experience, while Nick has recently come out of a dependency relationship. He has a photo of himself and his ex-wife leaning together looking like a “pair of baby owls” – sweet, but a bit helpless!


What shape is your relationship?

Margaret XX


The book Rebuilding When Your Relationship ends is by Dr Bruce Fisher and Dr Robert Alberti, and is available on Amazon.


The Best Revenge

One afternoon in early summer in the year 2000, my life changed forever. I’d been to the shops to buy bread so my partner could take sandwiches to work the next day. When I returned home his car was in the drive, but the house was silent. This was very unusual – noise followed Andy around like a cloud of flies. He wasn’t the kind of person who could handle being on his own very well, and normally when I came in he’d be laughing with a friend on the phone, or at the very least playing loud music. I went into the sitting room, and there he was, just sitting. The TV wasn’t even on. Immediately, I was worried. The previous December my dad had died, and the previous July Andy’s best friend had been killed in a cycling accident. All my instincts told me that something else big had happened.

‘What’s wrong?’ I asked and sat beside him, taking his hand. Andy couldn’t meet my eyes. I thought it was because he was trying not to cry. But no, it was because he was bowed down by guilt. ‘I’ve met someone else,’ he said.

Twenty minutes later I left the house, taking only the dog and a small bag with me. It took me 4 years to rebuild my life.

What has all this got to do with Getting Published and Getting laughs, you may ask? Well, a great deal actually. Because the experience of this has given me a huge amount of material for my writing! In my novel The Goddess Workshop, my character Kate is very bitter following a similar break-up. Kate resorts to acts of revenge to try to assuage her feelings. So did I, but in a more subtle and much more satisfying way than Kate. I imagine most of us have heard of tales of wronged women stuffing prawns in curtain rails or cutting up their ex’s trousers. Andy clearly thought I would do such things, as he posted one of his friends in the house when I went to collect the rest of my things. He didn’t trust me to be there on my own.

But instead of seafood and scissors, I moved to a new city and got a new job. Then I saved my money and went on an adventure holiday to Cuba. Andy and I had been learning Spanish with a view to travelling somewhere exotic, and I knew Cuba would be top on his list of destinations. The whole time I was there, I was imagining how jealous he’d be if he found out. When I got back, I used the country as one of the settings in a book. The book was a reader for people learning to speak English and I called it Murder Maker.

Murder Maker

Murder Maker begins with the main character Carla being dumped by the love of her life. Here’s how it starts:

I used to think that murderers were born murderers, but now I know differently. Now I know they can be made.

            In my case, it was shock that did it. Four brutal words that changed my life forever. And who spoke those words?


            Congratulations, you created a murderer.

Can you guess what the 4 words were? Yes – I’ve met someone else. Carla goes on to become a serial killer, and the whole story is narrated by Carla to her ex. I changed names, but there are no prizes for guessing who her ex is based on. And satisfyingly, by the end of the book, we know time is running out for him…

After Murder Maker was a published, it was on sale in a specialist bookshop in Cambridge, near to where I used to live with Andy. And the best revenge of all? Well, a mutual friend told me that Andy had walked by the bookshop and seen it in the window. He’d been compelled to go in and buy it!

Murder Maker has since sold thousands of copies around the world and still continues to earn me money. Best of all, my experience of dealing with heartbreak and of rebuilding my life has continued to provide me with meaty material for writing. In my latest novel – The Dare Club – my characters meet at a course for the newly divorced and separated. I did such a course myself when I moved to a new city.

But more about that another day…