Summer is coming to an end. 15-year-old Millie has arranged a secret meeting with Alan, the 19-year-old boy she adores. The four years that separate them translate into dramatically different concepts of love. For her, it’s spending time together and maybe even holding hands. For him, it’s something else entirely. But the teenaged girl doesn’t understand and the older boy doesn’t realize until it’s way too late—and the unforgivable happens.
This is the story of A Very Cold Summer, Raymond Ho’s new novel and predicted bestseller. With a charming wife and a beautiful daughter, it appears that the famed writer has it all, but things are rarely as they appear. Behind closed doors, his marriage to Viola is a cold and loveless void so Raymond takes solace in lavishing all of his attention in fatherly affection on 16-year-old Cynthia.
Just when it seems Raymond is at the height of his career, Melanie enters his life. Despite never having heard of him before A Very Cold Summer, she’s now his biggest fan and she’s gone back to devour all of Raymond’s previous novels. But Melanie is not just a fan; she’s also a very beautiful, very seductive woman. One that could bring Raymond the intimacy, the excitement and the inspiration he so desperately needs and the promotion tour for the new novel gives him a perfect excuse for a lovers’ weekend with Melanie without raising his wife’s suspicion.
But the lovers’ weekend turns into Raymond, confused and terror-stricken, tied to a bed in a remote house after a night-long ride in the trunk of a car. And Melanie isn’t at all the lover Raymon thought he was meeting. In fact, she’s become his scourge, torturing him every time he regains consciousness. But why? She says Raymond’s novel is true and accuses him of profiting from the atrocities he inflicted on her through book sales. Despite Melanie’s torment, he swears it isn’t true and that the book is nothing more than the product of his imagination.
Who lies? What is the truth? Soon it’s The Very Last Day when all appearances will shatter for Raymond and everyone around him.
I was sexually assaulted by my best friend’s stepfather when I was a teenager. The man was a mentor and a friend (or so I thought). He was also a respectable novelist while I, on the other end, was just a boy from the projects, raised by my single mother. After the facts, I have failed to find an understanding soul, so I have lived with this secret for most of my adult life. Unable to speak openly about what had happened, I’ve tried to write about it, but each attempt was too painful to go through as it made me feel both shame and disgust, mostly with myself. So, instead of recounting this event in fiction form, I decided to take a few steps back and focus on the themes and characters rather than on sordid (or so I felt) events.
This is how the first draft of ‘The Very Last Day’ came to be. But that version was too raw, too violent, too angry. Giving it perspective wasn’t enough, I also had to give it time. Ten years’ time and almost that many rewrites, to be precise. In the original draft, the characters were more two-dimensional: the kidnapper was crazy, the writer tortured for about 60 out of 90 pages, and the wife non-existent. These 10 years allowed me to find a certain peace with myself and with the “material,” so I could stop judging the characters and feed them with aspects of my own personality: the kidnapper is now a victim as well, the writer is also a struggling creator, and the wife is a wounded and betrayed woman.
And then finally came the moment to make the film and by that, I mean sharing it first with my cast and crew. As it happens, many confided that they found in the script reasons to make it their own. Some expanded and explained to me exactly what it meant to them, some others didn’t––I am all too aware of how hard it is to share some feelings and experiences, so I didn’t press for more. One thing is for sure, it was a personal affair for all involved and I am forever grateful to them for the collective act of creation that ‘The Very Last Day’ has now become, for after all these years I finally found understanding souls.