Jamaica Plain author Beth Castrodale's new suspenseful road trip novel, I Mean You No Harm, is coming out in August.
I Mean You No Harm tells the story of a struggling artist, Layla Shawn, who has spent most of her 32 years estranged from her career-criminal father, Vic Doloro, and haunted by the mysterious death of her mother.
Her father dies, leaving Layla a tempting inheritance of ill-gotten money. Urging her to take the money is Vic’s other daughter, Bette, with whom Layla shares a troubled past. On a cross-country road trip, the two women mend fences, but Layla finds herself caught in the middle of an unsettled and lethal score between her father and a man who knows more than he should about her mother’s death.
Asked what inspired the novel, Castrodale said she was inspired to write the the book due to an article she read several years ago in The Guardian.
“It was written by a woman who discovered, as a child, that her father was a member of the mob," said Castrodale. "It turned her world upside down, and she had to reconcile his roles as a criminal and a parent. I decided to write from the point of view of just such a daughter: the main character of my novel, Layla Shawn.”
Castrodale said it was important for her to discuss the conflict between Layla and her sister Bette.
"Largely because she was raised by their father, Bette seems mostly untroubled by his criminal past, while Layla, who wasn’t raised by him, is repulsed by what he was alleged to have done," said Castodale. "When the two sisters hit the road together, they have to figure out their own relationship, apart from their father, and also try to come to terms with their different perspectives on him. He’s left them a troubling legacy, in more ways than one.”
Castrodale's made sure that that when she approached her eventual publisher Imbrifex Books, that she mentioned the road trip angle of the book. After all he founders of Imbrifex are behind RoadTrip America, which since 1996 has offered advice, maps, and inspiration for travelers eager to see more of North America.