After the publication of Dark Hollow, one of Belinda Pereira’s relatives got in touch with me. He had read the book not knowing that one of the characters was based on Belinda, and had only discovered the connection when he saw an interview I gave about the novel and its origins. He wrote to tell me that he did not object to Belinda’s being remembered in that way, and he gave me a little background into what happened to her family following her death. Her parents did not know that their daughter had sometimes worked as a prostitute. By the time her mother managed to return to Sri Lanka, the news of Belinda’s death, and the circumstances surrounding it, had reached there. The family was disgraced. Her mother, he told me, never recovered from Belinda’s death. She contracted cancer and died without ever seeing a measure of justice achieved for her lost child.
The novelist John Gardner once wrote that there are two choices open to the writer who lives in a world in which there are pits filled with the skulls of children. The first is to gaze into one of those pits and write about what one sees. The other, the one that I have made, is to write about how one can endure a world where there are pits filled with the skulls of children; the skulls of children and the bodies of young women who die far from home at the hands of violent men.
And so I created Charlie Parker, and through him I try to understand that world, and present a version of it in which one might live, and in which justice is attainable not only in the next life but in this one too.