Randy Meyers’ father tried to kill her mother, but he didn’t succeed.
In Meyers’ novel “The Murderer’s Daughters,” which she will discuss Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Woodbridge Assisted Living in Peabody, it’s as if he had accomplished what he set out to do.
Meyers’ mother had told her daughters never to let their father into the apartment, but Meyers’ older sister did just that, and the violent results are depicted in the novel’s opening scene.
“It’s my sister telling me stories,” Meyers said. “My memory of it is almost nonexistent. The first chapter is her story, as told to me, so it’s a big ‘what if’ my father had killed my mother.”
It’s common for people with such histories of abuse in their families to work in various kinds of “helping professions,” Meyers said, and she was no exception.
For 10 years, she worked in a violence prevention program for batterers, who were sent by the courts for training, and one element of this experience prompted Meyers to write “The Murderer’s Daughters.”
“So many times, I said to guys, ‘Where were your children when this happened?’ They said, ‘They were sleeping,’” Meyers said.
Meyers set out to tell the story of abuse from the point of view of children who, even if they aren’t direct targets of violence, are scarred by their awareness of what’s happening.
“I want readers to only see and feel the kids’ point of view, even as they become adults, so we only know what they know,” she said. “Our fascination is only with the perpetrator. Only rarely do we study what’s left in the wake of violence.”
In her experience, batterers are men who choose not to control their violent impulses.
“It really is men who either choose not to stop themselves or think they can’t,” she said. “They were in denial of their ability to stop themselves.”
Meyers has published two other novels that touch on the impact of other forms of impulsive, rash behaviors on family life, including road rage and marital infidelity.
“I’m fascinated in the collateral damage of unintended consequences,” she said.
While her main purpose is to tell a good story, Meyers is happy to discuss the issues in her novels with audiences.
“I love going into communities and speaking about these issues,” she said.