AWW Feature: Y.A. Erskine and the secret behind The Betrayal

Welcome Y.A Erskine!

I am thrilled to be hosting Yvette Erskine, author of Australian crime fiction novels, The Brotherhood and The Betrayal , which both earned five star reviews from me, at Book’d Out today. Exploring the underbelly of modern policing, Yvette Erskine writes darkly compelling stories of corruption and injustice.

Yvette Erskine spent eleven years in the Tasmania Police Service. She was active in frontline policing, served as a detective in the CIB and as an investigator in a high-profile, two-year covert task force investigating an international abalone smuggling ring. In her spare time she was member of the elite Protective Security Section, was present the day the Queen narrowly avoided being taken out by a disgruntled republican wielding a rotten tomato in Launceston.

Yvette is also an historian by trade, having gained first-class honours in an early modern history degree; she recently completed the second year of her PhD in Tudor Reformation History. She also has a teaching degree and spent six months trying to enthuse teenagers about English and History before admitting that she had failed spectacularly and should have stuck to locking them up instead. Yvette currently lives in Melbourne and is happily married with two dogs.

The Betrayal (published by Bantam Australia) is Y.A. Erskine’s latest release and I was stunned to learn it originated from Yvette’s own personal experience as a rookie constable, read on to find out more…

 

The Secret behind The Betrayal

I joined the Tasmania Police Service in 1995 at the ripe old age of twenty one. It’s fair to say I was quite naïve – a country girl from the north west coast who’d grown up in a warm, fuzzy, middle class environment, never really having to deal with anything unpleasant. Joining the job soon changed all of that! I policed until 2006 and over the years, among the litany of unpleasant jobs, I saw my fair share of sexual assault cases.

I dealt directly with a host of victims – mostly female – and of every age you can think of from infants of three up unto grandmas of eighty five. With the youngest it was a matter of eliciting their stories by any means possible including using the custom made, anatomically correct dolls. We’d video interview them for hours trying to capture the full story of the abuse they had suffered. There were the teenagers who blamed themselves for getting into the wrong car with the wrong guy on a Saturday night. There were the intellectually disabled who’d been taken advantage of by a carer or ‘friend.’ There were families with up to eight now grown kids who’d all been assaulted by the one family member over many years and then there were the rare random attacks – such as the granny who’d been subjected to hours of horrific sexual torture at the hands of an unknown burglar.

The only way to deal with these cases without going stark raving bonkers was to be as professional as possible – to stay strong, to try to coax their stories from them, to commit them to paper in the most accurate manner possible, to take them for their medicals and try to preserve their dignity throughout the invasive procedures, to compile the best court brief possible and then to support them through the harrowing process of reliving it months or years down the track – often over and over again in front of legal professionals who tore them to shreds and publicly accused them of making it all up. Rarely was there a satisfying outcome.

So in 2001 when I was a detective constable, I never would have guessed that I myself would become a victim. I was on a two week training course at the police academy in Hobart and made the mistake of accepting an offer of a quiet night of drinks and videos at a colleague’s house. Incidentally, policing generally transcends the old ‘men and women can’t ever be friends’ rule. When you spend your working life in a car with someone for ten hours straight, all of that goes out the window and you’re all just mates.

So somewhat naively, and with mateship in mind, I went for drinks. He mixed them in the kitchen while I sat on the couch. The first drink was fine. The second was not. About twenty minutes into the movie I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I remember feeling woozy and then just blacking out. When I woke up hours later, I was naked in his bed and there was no mistaking the fact that we’d had sex – much to my surprise. I was horrified and embarrassed and I remember thinking that never should have happened. I actually apologised (can you believe it?) and left.

Now, as the type of person who doesn’t like to dwell on anything unpleasant, I promptly put it all to one side thinking I must have somehow gotten drunk and made a very stupid mistake. Two weeks later however, I read an article about drink spiking and it clicked. The article detailed experiences like mine to a tee. I approached my boss and told him what had happened and he was very supportive. However, after much discussion, I decided against making a formal complaint. I knew how the system worked and felt that my case wouldn’t stand a chance. Being a private person, I didn’t want to open my life up to lawyers to dissect – to give them a chance to call me a liar publicly. A copper accusing a fellow copper would have been splashed all over the front of the paper and after much to-ing and fro-ing, I decided it wasn’t worth it.

I had some counselling and still felt like a bit of a fool for having let it happen to me, but eventually, I decided not to be held hostage to it. I got on with life and thought I was doing fine until nine years later when I saw my attacker in Canberra and promptly had a massive panic attack! At the time, The Brotherhood had just been accepted for publication and I was thinking about what I’d write next. So I came home and wrote and wrote and wrote – exploring the idea of what might have happened had I pursued a complaint at the time.

Thus, The Betrayal was born.

You can find Yvette Erskine at

Facebook I Twitter

Thank you Yvette for taking the time to participate in the Australian Women Writers Feature at Book’d Out.

 

The Betrayal is Available to Purchase

@Random House I @Borders I @Booktopia

@Amazon {Kindle & Print}@BookDepository I Google Play

The Brotherhood is Available to Purchase

@Random House I @BoomerangBooks I @Booktopia

@Amazon {Kindle & Print}@BookDepository

 

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Judith
    May 22, 2012 @ 18:57:00

    I haven’t read the book, but the story behind it is fascinating, although it would have been so much better if it had never happened. (Strange how we women always blame ourselves, btw).

    I haven’t read the book (yet, it’s going on my wishlist) but I do hope that colleague got all he deserved (in the book, that is – although in real life I sincerely hope he’s not spiking anyone’s drink anymore).

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  2. 1girl2manybooks
    May 22, 2012 @ 19:38:13

    Such a fabulous post. The statistics on the conviction of sex-based offences are really depressing and I’m sure there are so many that aren’t even reported. I loved The Brotherhood for its realism and The Betrayal sounds even more real and gritty (although I am sorry Yvette had to experience this in order to find inspiration to write the story). Can’t wait to dive into this one.

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  3. Margaret Lynette Sharp
    May 22, 2012 @ 20:37:37

    Very brave of you to re-visit your traumatic experience. Insight is a very powerful tool in constructing a novel. I hope you achieve great success: you deserve it.

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  4. Lindsey
    May 23, 2012 @ 00:38:02

    I’m so sorry that the author had a real-life experience. It sounds like an interesting story, though and I hope she found a bit of healing in writing the book.

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  5. William
    May 23, 2012 @ 10:38:52

    I was considering reading one of her books but I never got around to it. Not enough time.

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  6. brendat59
    May 23, 2012 @ 11:36:38

    How terribly sad for you to have had this experience Yvette. The fact that your colleague got away with it, and possibly continued more of the same is shocking, no wonder you had a panic attack!
    I hope your writing of ‘The Betrayal’ somehow put the events well into the past, and your life is able to move on with all the happiness you deserve.

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  7. Trackback: Review: The Betrayal | Angela Savage
  8. Trackback: Bookish News & Publishing Tidbits 25 May 2012 | Read in a Single Sitting - Book reviews and new books
  9. Tanya Patrice
    May 28, 2012 @ 22:45:57

    What a horrific experience! It must have taken such strength to keep going on when such an incident happened to you – and to keep dealing with others who were also abused!

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  10. Trackback: Updates…New Releases…Links (or all the things we’ve missed in recent weeks) | Fair Dinkum Crime
  11. Trackback: Review: THE BETRAYAL by Y.A. Erskine | Fair Dinkum Crime
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