Mothers and Daughters

baby nic bath

In the UK at least, tomorrow is Mother’s Day and so it seemed appropriate to blog about the unique bond that exists between mothers and daughters.

In Curve, the relationship between Cass and her mum is an integral part of the story.  As is often the case, Cass lives with her mum and stepdad, which brings its own tensions.  Cass is on the verge of going to university and it is clear that, whilst this is daunting for her, it is an idea that upsets her mum, even though she is determined that Cass will become a strong, independent woman.  However, when Cass suffers a horrible event (no spoilers here!), it is her mum who supports her and is there for her.  By the end, their relationship is definitely stronger and more honest.

The reshaping of relationships with parents is a critical part of becoming an adult so feels very appropriate to the New Adult category,  Yes, at that age we often move away from home and parents, and sometimes the distance is more than physical, but, in my experience, most people still end up with a close relationship with their parents.  Close but different, maybe.

This was certainly the case in my own life.  Like Cass, I grew up without really knowing my dad.  My mum was a real matriarch, with every decision in my life coloured by the idea of ‘What would Mum do?’.   The tension between us ebbed and flowed; sometimes we were like friends, sometimes we struggled to co-exist under the same roof.

When I went to university, I spent more and more time away from home, and Mum.  She couldn’t cope with the newly independent me.   I couldn’t cope with the limits she wanted to impose on my freedom.  Almost as soon as I graduated, I moved out of home permanently.  Even though I lived in the same town, I would sometimes go weeks without seeing her.  However, without fail, just like she had when I was at university, she rang me every Friday evening.  I could visualise her routine exactly: watch Eastenders, mute the TV, pick up the phone and dial Nic’s number.  My husband knew there was no point picking up the phone.  We didn’t need caller ID.  It was Mum.

As the next few years passed, Mum was my support when life didn’t go to plan: the end of relationships, health problems, career woes.  And I hope that she felt I supported her as well, especially when she lost her own mum.

Four years ago, we were probably at the best point in our relationship.  Neither of us expected the other to change.  Neither of us wanted the other to change.  She would be as excited about school holidays as I was, as it meant we would be able to spend time together, even if it was just popping to the garden centre or out for a pub lunch.

I can remember Mother’s Day, four years ago.  I bought her a digital photo frame and uploaded it with photos from her life, secretly borrowed over a series of visits and scanned.  I can remember switching it on and watching the joy on her face as the memories from her childhood, from my childhood, came to life.  A few weeks later I visited and, unusually, there was no TV on.  Mum was sat in the semi-dark, watching the rolling display of photos.  It was possibly the best material thing I ever gave her.

In June of that year, Mum became ill.

In July of that year, Mum passed away.

Losing Mum is, without doubt, the hardest thing I have had to deal with.  Being at her side as she drew her last breaths was strangely comforting.  Planning her funeral in the way I thought she would want it was difficult; we had never had reason to discuss it.  Packing up her house, her belongings, her life, was heartbreaking.  And then I had the prospect of a six week school holiday looming in front of me.  And no mum.

So I started writing.

I suppose it’s not much of a surprise, therefore, that the relationship between Cass and her mum is so important to Curve.  I’m sure that I was coming to terms with some of my grief through writing it.  I know that one of the later scenes between Cass and her mum made me cry so much when I wrote it that I can still barely read it.   Like this blog entry.

Four years but I still think ‘What would Mum do?’.

Four years and I still miss that Friday night phone call.

Four years…


Happy Mother’s Day, Mum.




Keeping it real: writing about sexual violence.

woman girl watercolor portrait sad face painting art tears pity female feminine eyes

*This article contains potential spoilers if you haven’t read Curve.

The storyline around the sexual violence experienced by Cass developed during the process of writing Curve.  I hadn’t started with anything other than the idea of someone posting pictures of a girl on social media; there had been a number of stories about similar events in the news and it had got me thinking about the impact on those involved.  This was going to be very much a sub-plot behind the romance. However, as I was writing and Cass developed as a character that I started to care about, the focus of the novel shifted and now, to me at least, how she deals with what happens to her is more important than her relationship with Flynn.

A key moment during the writing was when I researched the statistics about sexual violence in the UK.  These shocked me so much I felt I had to include them as an Author’s Note.  It horrified me that twenty per cent of women will be the victim of a sexual attack as an adult.  Even more worrying was the idea that almost thirty per cent of these crimes are committed by young men between the ages of 16 and 19.  I hope that Curve shows that a typical, average girl can be a victim, even though she has done nothing to put herself at risk.  Through Rob, I wanted to show that sometimes the perpetrators of these crimes can be young men who are popular and successful.  The issue isn’t just about the stereotypical seedy bloke pulling a scantily-clad, drunk girl into a dark alley.

Once the storyline developed, and I was increasingly emotionally involved with Cass, I knew I needed to portray the attack and its investigation with as much honesty and clarity as possible, but without sensationalising it in any way.  This research was the most harrowing part of writing Curve.  Everything that happens to Cass is factually accurate, based on the UK police and legal system.  I hope that the emotional experience is also accurate.  I read a number of blogs written by women who had experienced similar attacks, as well as some forums.  I am deliberately not using the word ‘victims’ here as many of them were writing online as a way of showing their strength in moving forwards after such attacks.  I read much that was upsetting, but much more that was inspiring.

Flynn’s love for Cass is a part of her learning to move forwards.  I hope that anyone who finds herself in a similar position to Cass also finds that she has someone as loving and loyal to support her afterwards.

*This article was previously posted on the Bookish Treasures blog


In a perfect world…



…we wouldn’t need International Women’s Day.

Until then, remember that we all have a role to play in improving equality and girls’ aspirations.