When parents can’t agree

More Than Us Book Cover More Than Us
Dawn Barker
families, parents, autism
Canelo
21st May 2018
Kindle

When parents disagree on how to care for their child, is it justifiable to take extreme measures?

Emily and Paul have a glorious home, money in the bank and two beautiful children. Since leaving Scotland for Paul to play football for an Australian team they have been blessed. But sadness lies behind the picture-perfect family - sixteen-year-old Cameron has battled with health troubles his entire life. There's no name for what he has, but his disruptive behaviour, OCD and difficulty in social situations is a constant source of worry.

When Paul's career comes to a shuddering halt, he descends into a spiral of addiction, gambling away the family's future. By the time he seeks help, it's his new boss Damien who recommends and pays for a rehab facility.

While Paul is away, Emily has to make a tough decision about their son. She keeps it from Paul knowing he'll disapprove. And when a terrible accident reveals the truth, Paul takes his son and goes on the run, leaving Emily to care for fourteen-year-old Tilly, who unbeknown to her parents is fighting battles of her own.

Can the family join together for the sake of their loved ones, or will their troubles tear them apart?

When you first start reading this book, you are convinced that Cameron is autistic and has OCD. But as you read on, you realise that this is too simplistic – and anyway, the experts have said he isn’t on the spectrum.

Now the spectrum is very wide indeed as I know from my own family and so it is difficult to be so definitive. It is clear Cameron has some social difficulties and has some of the repetitive behaviours one might expect, but on the other hand, the meds don’t work and his behaviour remains challenging. His father is convinced that what he really needs is time away from his, in his view, overfussy mother, and no medicines.

So the parents disagree as to what is the best way to help their son, which is not unusual, and in this novel leads to extreme behaviour.

I thought the story rang true until we got to the last section about the cult. It  just seemed to be too easy to join, especially as most of the members were rich. This seems to have been a twist added in for the sake of not having a straightforward storyline.

If you want to know how realistic the behaviour of Cameron is, then look back at the blog published on this site, on 23rd June by the book’s author, who is a practicing child psychiatrist.

Share This:

New baby in the house?

Confessions of a First Time Mum
Poppy Dolan
parenting, raising children, humour, women's fiction
Canelo
(25 Jun. 2018)
Kindle

Stevie’s life has changed beyond recognition since having her first baby. Stevie loves being a mum, but between the isolation and being vomited on five times a day, she really wishes she had someone to talk to.

With husband Ted working hard to keep the family afloat, Stevie really doesn’t want to burden him with her feelings. Turning to the internet, Stevie starts the anonymous First-Time Mum blog and blasts the rose-tinted glasses of parenthood right off her readers.

In the real world, Stevie meets the formidable Nelle and gorgeous Will, along with their own little treasures, and starts to realise that being a ‘perfect mum’ isn’t everything. But when the secret blog goes viral, Stevie must make some tough choices about who she wants to be, and whether she’s ready for the world to know the truth…

Oh yes, I remember it well. 5 years of no sleep except in short naps (preparation for menopause and beyond if i did but know); exploding poo – or rabbit droppings all over a friend’s guest bedroom; the wee in the eye (little boys); the sick and more sick; the joy of measles when the youngest catches it at 13 months just before her injection and you’re in hospital after an op, and husband brings her in to see Mum!

And don’t get the kids started on being forgotten in a supermarket car park and then there was Orlando and Disney!

So I’ve been there and thus my memory helped me laugh at the tales of mishaps and joys that are in this book. So much truth and such great fun to read.  May not appeal to those without knowledge of bringing up a child.

Share This:

Who loves you?

You are Loved Book Cover You are Loved
Jo Platt
romance, contemporary, romantic comedy
Canelo
(14 Aug. 2017)
Kindle

Author Grace Waterhouse has hit rock bottom. Her ex-husband has just had a baby with his new partner and her latest novel is… well, the less said the better.

Desperate for distraction, Grace impulsively takes on a friend’s cleaning job, parachuting herself into a new social circle including an eccentric OAP, a heartbroken twenty-something and one James Brooke, an enigmatic lawyer with an unblinking stare.

Add to this mix an anxious literary agent, a hairdresser who doesn’t mince words and a newly repentant ex-husband, and Grace's career break proves to be more breathless than breather.

They say that all you need is love – but what if that's the one thing you haven't got?

The heart-warming, funny and unputdownable new novel from bestseller Jo Platt is perfect for fans of Mhairi McFarlane, Anna Bell and Joanna Bolouri.

A light-hearted, feel good read, ideal for beach-side reading, especially if the world is getting you down.

Not high fiction but you don’t always want to read serious stuff do you? And sometimes, you need to know that other people are just as messy, or have lost things under their bed, or have idiotic coincidences happen to them – just like you.

I do have a bit of a thing though, against writers writing about writers. I know that writers do have writers’ block from my own experience but still, would you willingly clean other people’s houses for a friend? For months? Just because you can’t write?

But don’t let me put you off – the fact that I wouldn’t do it is irrelevant.

Share This:

When there is more than you think: Dawn explains

More Than Us Book Cover More Than Us
Dawn Barker
Women’s Fiction, Family Drama
Canelo
21st May 2018
Kindle

When parents disagree on how to care for their child, is it justifiable to take extreme measures?

Emily and Paul have a glorious home, money in the bank and two beautiful children. Since leaving Scotland for Paul to play football for an Australian team they have been blessed. But sadness lies behind the picture-perfect family - sixteen-year-old Cameron has battled with health troubles his entire life. There's no name for what he has, but his disruptive behaviour, OCD and difficulty in social situations is a constant source of worry.

When Paul's career comes to a shuddering halt, he descends into a spiral of addiction, gambling away the family's future. By the time he seeks help, it's his new boss Damien who recommends and pays for a rehab facility.

While Paul is away, Emily has to make a tough decision about their son. She keeps it from Paul knowing he'll disapprove. And when a terrible accident reveals the truth, Paul takes his son and goes on the run, leaving Emily to care for fourteen-year-old Tilly, who unbeknown to her parents is fighting battles of her own.

Can the family join together for the sake of their loved ones, or will their troubles tear them apart?

 

Dawn Barker explains Autisim and the book

First of all, thank you for having me on your blog today. I’m very excited that More Than Us is out now!

Thank you also for asking me to explain a little bit about some of the mental health conditions that are central to the characters in More Than Us. For those who haven’t read it yet, More Than Us tells the story of a family who must make drastic decisions about the mental health treatment of their son, and then deal with the fall-out for their family, and particularly their children, when the parents have completely opposing views about his psychiatry treatment.

One of the main characters in More Than Us is a teenage boy named Cameron. Cameron has always been different to his sister, and different to the other children around him. He was harder to manage as a baby and toddler, with behavioural issues and struggles at school. His mother is sure there’s something wrong with him; his father thinks he’s just a child and shouldn’t have to be the same as everyone else.

I chose to write about this issue in the book as when I’m not writing, I work as a child psychiatrist here in Perth, Australia. I therefore see every day that diagnosing behavioural and emotional difficulties in children is not as straightforward as diagnosing a medical illness: there’s no blood test or scan that can tell us what’s ‘wrong’ and we depend on information and observation from many places to help formulate a diagnosis and tailor treatment, both psychological and sometimes, medication, if appropriate. Also, children are developing and changing all the time, and so are their symptoms.

In More Than Us, Cameron doesn’t fit neatly into any box. He has features of an Autistic Spectrum Disorder, and he also has features of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Over many years, other symptoms appear that seem to relate to ADHD, or anxiety, or depression. This again, is not uncommon in my day to day work.

In child psychiatry, symptoms often overlap. For example, an Autistic Spectrum Disorder involves symptoms of not only social difficulties, but also restricted and repetitive interests and behaviours. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder involves, amongst other symptoms, repetitive compulsive behaviours that may appear to parents, or teachers, as restricted behaviours. The two conditions, however, are very different, as is their treatment. To complicate things, children may have both conditions, and in fact many mental illnesses commonly co-occur with others.

I see children with social difficulties all the time in my practice, and Cameron in More Than Us struggles to relate to his peers at times. It had been suggested when he was younger that he may have an Autistic Spectrum Disorder, which, by definition, involves difficulty in social communication. However, he doesn’t quite fit in that box.

Other mental health disorders can create social difficulties too: someone with OCD may be so preoccupied with their worrying, obsessional thoughts and completing their compulsions that they can’t concentrate on social interactions; someone with ADHD may struggle to control their impulses or their attention on conversations; someone who is depressed will be so flat in their mood that they don’t have the energy or motivation to relate to others.

I wanted to explore in the book how all of our behaviours exist on a spectrum, from what we would class in our society as ‘normal’, social and confident children, to those people whom we see at work or school every day who don’t fit the norm. They may be ‘quirky’ or a little odd, or avoid social interactions, or just seem to not understand social communication. That’s not necessarily an illness or mental health condition and diagnosis depends on a really careful and thorough history and observation of a child and family over time. Not every child who has social difficulties has an autistic spectrum disorder, and diagnosing children is complex.

I hope that readers of More Than Us can put themselves in the place of Cameron’s mother and father, and consider what they would do in that situation, if Cameron was their child. After writing the book, it has become even clearer to me that there is no right or wrong answer, and no right or wrong way to raise your own child, but even if parents disagree about treatment, or any aspect of parenting, they mustn’t forget that the most important thing is to ensure that their child is happy and thriving, regardless of their own views.

Thanks again for having me on your blog today and I hope your readers enjoy More Than Us.

Links to Book:

Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

Author Bio:

Dawn Barker is a psychiatrist and author. She grew up in Scotland, then in 2001 she moved to Australia, completed her psychiatric training and began writing. Her first novel, ‘Fractured’, was selected for the 2010 Hachette/Queensland Writers Centre manuscript development programme, was one of Australia’s bestselling debut fiction titles for 2013, and was shortlisted for the 2014 WA Premier’s Book Awards. Her second novel is ‘Let Her Go’. Dawn lives in Perth with her husband and three young children.

Twitter: @drdawnbarker

Share This:

How often do you Lie? Jody discusses this.

I Never Lie Book Cover I Never Lie
Jody Sabral
psychological, mystery, thriller, literary fiction
Canelo
11th June 2018
Kindle

Is she the next victim? Or is she the culprit?

Alex South is a high-functioning alcoholic who is teetering on the brink of oblivion. Her career as a television journalist is hanging by a thread since a drunken on-air rant. When a series of murders occur within a couple of miles of her East London home she is given another chance to prove her skill and report the unfolding events. She thinks she can control the drinking, but soon she finds gaping holes in her memory, and wakes to find she’s done things she can’t recall. As the story she’s covering starts to creep into her own life, is Alex a danger only to herself – or to others?

This gripping psychological thriller is perfect for fans of Fiona Barton, B A Paris and Clare Mackintosh.

An Interview with Jody Sabral

Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?

I think the topic chose me in a way. I lived with an alcoholic for a year and felt the need to write about it in a realistic way. To capture the absolute denial of it and what the impact of that can be on everyone who comes into contact with it. I think it’s unique in the sense that I lived up close with it and therefore have a real passion for the issue. I’m not just using it as a plot ploy in a flippant manner. I hope it starts a positive conversation around alcoholism as I feel it’s something that is lacking in this country. I’ve always felt that literature and art can have a much longer lasting impact than that of news, the other business I’m in, so I guess I wanted to bring this to my novel, which I hope is also extremely entertaining. I still recall scenes from books I read ten or fifteen years ago and they make me think differently about the world we live in.

How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a notebook where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?

 Not really, for me it’s a very organic process. I think we all have themes in our lives that we feel strongly about for one reason or another and my writing is born from that. I’ve just completed a screenplay in which the main themes were born out of reading an article in the newspaper and a conversation with my niece. I felt strongly about the issues so I wanted to write about them.

3. How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?

It depends. I tend to pull off my experiences and those of friends. I’m not writing police procedurals. Yes, I have an investigation and an investigator but the emphasis is on the characters affected by it and the impact it has on them. So I tend to write about people’s emotions, which I think is about connections and the human condition. People fascinate me, so my writing is born out of conversations with others and observations about how people deal with a crisis.

How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?

As a journalist I’ve always found them very helpful and happy to cooperate. I have contacts who will read to see if it’s plausible and they will tell me if it’s not working.

5. How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?

I’m proud to say upwards of sixty-five rejections in my writing career. Obviously with this novel it was different as my agent handled those rejections. But with the two earlier books, the first CHANGING BORDERS I sent it out to almost thirty agents and got a heap of rejections. The second, THE MOVEMENT, which I won the CWA Debut Dagger for got me lots of interest from agents, yet many more rejections. I met my agent on the back end of those rejections. He had the foresight to ask me what I was working on next and a partnership was formed. He’s been with me since the conception of I NEVER LIE and it’s a very supportive and nurturing relationship. Finally I have someone behind me, believing in my work. What I will say to aspiring writers is just keep at it, at some point something will give.

Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?

I think you self-publish because you want to put it out there. To move on to a new project. To draw a line under it. But self-publishing has its pitfalls. Selling a book is a full time job.

Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?

I found self-publishing to be a very tough sell even though I had an audience of millions at the time that I wrote CHANGING BORDERS because I was a foreign correspondent on TV regularly. I write. I’m not a marketing person so I found that part of it tricky. It depends on your skills. If you’re good at sales and marketing I suppose you’d be in with a better chance than me. I don’t think there’s one perfect route. It’s a personal journey, but the important point is that you keep writing because at the end of the day it’s the words that will eventually pay off and resonate with someone. I like the support I have with an agent and publisher behind me because writing is a solitary job.

Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?

Not yet. This is my first novel to be released via a publisher, so let’s see!

What is the funniest thing that happened to you on a book tour?

I haven’t done a book tour yet, so not sure I can answer this. But some interesting people have a copy of my first book. Sir Patrick Stewart has one via someone I met on a plane, and the musician Moby. I inscribed on Moby’s copy, ‘if you like it Tweet it!’ Obviously he didn’t, but you have to be your own ambassador for your work in a competitive environment. Maybe one day he’ll tweet about I NEVER LIE, who knows!

What do you read when you are ill in bed?

I don’t get ill very often. I write a lot in bed though.

 What is your favourite genre?

Crime obviously. I like Sci-fi too because it makes you think about the bigger questions in life as in ‘why are we here?’

If you recommend a living author – who would it be? A dead author?

That’s tough because there are so many amazing authors dead and alive. J G Ballard is my all time fav. Living, there’s just so many. It’s like asking me what my favourite song is, it changes all the time. I really love Gillian Flynn, S J Watson, Nicki French, John Le Carre’s earlier works…. I mean the list just goes on.

Which author had the most influence on your writing? Your writing style? Your writing genre?

Dan Brown possibly? I’m not a literary writer. It’s pacy and not overly descriptive. I don’t read as much as I used to, which may shock some people, but that’s because I find that other writer’s voices get into my own and presently I’m trying to hone my own, which I think I did with I NEVER LIE. I found my voice with this book and that’s a very satisfying feeling.

In your opinion who is the funniest author now writing?

I think the best comedy writers of the moment for me are Sharon Horgan and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, oh and Charlie Brooker, but they write for TV, which I’m also attempting to do after attending an evening class in screenwriting. I tend to watch more comedy on TV than read it in books.

Have you ever tried to imitate another author’s style? And if so, why?

When I was retraining from journalist to novelist during my MA at City University I used to copy sentences from Raymond Chandler’s books word for word into a notebook then change the adjectives for my own, I did this so I could try to capture the show aspect of writing rather than tell. As a broadcast journalist I’ve had to work on my description a lot because news writing is stripped back and we don’t use a lot of adjectives. I think Chandler’s writing is all about the atmosphere, which he creates through even just describing the materials in a room. He is my guru of descriptive writing.

What have you done with the things you wrote when in school?

Sadly, they’ve been lost over the years as I left home at sixteen and moved endlessly to a million different flats and many countries. So if you find a diary in a charity shop somewhere one day that has me name in it, please return it to me!

About the Author

Jody Sabral is based in London, where she works as a Foreign Desk editor and video producer at the BBC. She is a graduate of the MA in Crime Fiction at City University, London. Jody worked as a journalist in Turkey for ten years, covering the region for various international broadcasters. She self-published her first book Changing Borders in 2012 and won the CWA Debut Dagger in 2014 for her second novel The Movement . In addition to working for the BBC, Jody also writes for the Huffington Post , AlMonitor and BRICS Post .

Twitter: @jsabral

I Never Lie will be followed by Dont Blame Me in early 2019, which will explore the dark side of instant celebrity culture and the deadly  consequences of overnight success.

Canelo books can be found on Amazon, Kobo, Apple and Google Books – some books will be limited to UK publication places only:

Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

Share This: