Sinead Moriarty on her inspiration for ‘This Child of Mine’
People often ask where my ideas come from for my novels. To date, they have come from observing, reading, listening and from life in general. I have been writing for nine years and I’m always afraid that I’ll run out of ideas. Thankfully, life in all its forms still provides me with plenty of material. As the saying goes, ‘fact is stranger than fiction’ and I really believe this to be true.
You couldn’t make up the story about the mountaineer who hacked his arm off with a pen knife, or the woman with six children who gave birth to octuplets or the child who turns up fifteen years after being abducted from her own bed. Real stories are so often ‘unbelievable’. But that’s the beauty of the world – it provides us with endless amounts of material for books. As my editor says when anything goes wrong in my life, ‘It’s all raw material.’
I have found since I began writing, when people tell me a good story, they will either finish by saying – “Don’t you dare put that in your next book” or “You should definitely put that in your next book”. Clearly the latter is my preferred reaction!
The idea for my new book, This Child of Mine, actually came to me in the middle of the night. I had been mulling over the seed of an idea for a while. It was working away in the back of my mind but it was only on this particular night that the story came to me almost in its complete form.
I woke up with a start at about 3am and I had the whole first scene already written in my head. The subconscious is an incredibly powerful tool. I scribbled down the details on the notepad I leave beside my bed and fell back to sleep. When I woke up the next morning I felt a rush of excitement, I loved the premise for the new book and really felt it was something a bit different.
If I were to sum up the book up in one sentence it would be. “Would you kidnap a neglected child to save its life?” And so, This Child of Mine was born.
The book is about making mistakes, loss, heartbreak, love, judgement and forgiveness. The interesting thing about writing it was that my sympathies kept switching between the biological mother and the abductor mother.
I think the dilemma of nature versus nurture is one that will always be emotive. A friend of mine is a teacher in a very deprived school and she would often tell me stories about parents coming to collect their five year old children, out of their minds on drugs or drink. She said she’d watch these innocent little kids walking off in the ‘care’ of completely negligent parents. I think that was one of the many sparks that inspired this book.
I’m also very interested in the power of loss and how a woman, who desperately wanted a child and never had one, would cope with that grief and pain and heartache. Grief is such a powerful emotion, it can drive you to make rash decisions. Equally finding yourself with a child you didn’t want and can’t cope with can sometimes lead to neglect.
The themes I explore in the book are ones that people generally feel very strongly about. I tried my best to give both sides of a story and have left it up to the reader, to make up their mind as to who they have more sympathy for, who they think made the mistake, who they think is guilty.
Whenever I have a book that is about to be published I have a strong urge to buy myself a one way ticket to Australia. Even though this is my 8th book to be published, the nerves never subside. I think they actually get worse. As my husband keeps saying, ‘the book is written, there is nothing you can do now’. Although he has a point, I don’t find this very reassuring!
And so, I will as usual hold my breath and cross all my fingers and toes in the hope that people enjoy the book…
- Sinead Moriarty
Sinead’s latest book, This Child of Mine, is now available in-store and online.