The story behind the story
150,000 babies were put up for adoption in Australia from 1951 – 1975. Most babies were from single, unwed girls and women. With numbers this staggering, it’s easy to surmise that many, many families throughout Australia today, whether that be through the adopted children themselves or the women ‘forced’ or ‘coerced’ to have their babies taken from them, would be impacted in some way by these practices.
In a present-day context, it’s difficult to believe that pregnancy for ‘single’ or ‘unwed’ women could be considered morally abhorrent and something that could bring great shame upon the mother and her family. Although, if I look a little deeper, even in my own experience of having my first child at 19 years old, and with how I was treated by some, it’s taking a long time for the values and culture to change completely.
As a mother myself, I can’t even imagine but can empathise to a degree with what it must have felt like for these women who had no other option than to have their babies taken from them. But I do know, as someone who is one of those Australians impacted by this hurtful practice, that the pain, shame, and anguish for the mother, as well as the adopted child, never ceases.
I don’t want to now state that this period in history was ‘inspiration’ for my current book, The Secrets Mothers Keep, because it feels to me like a trivialisation of these horrible actions against mothers and children. Instead, I want to frame it from the viewpoint of what the intention of literature is and has been for centuries – a re-imagining of what is and showing ‘what could be’.
Using this very real and painful history, I wanted to create a different story, an alternative scenario for at least one family, even if that family had to be fictional. It is from this that I hope readers of The Secrets Mothers Keep perceive ‘forced adoption’ and the roles of mothers throughout the past six decades in a different way and carry that change of perception with them.
So that’s what The Secrets Mothers Keep is – a re-imagining of history in a ‘different’ way, not necessarily a better way. What I wrote is not idealistic or trite. I explore within the premise of The Secrets Mothers Keep, the lengths mothers go to when they don’t have any other choice. As well as the heartbreaking aftermath for the victims when tough decisions are made out of necessity, fear or an inability to predict the consequences. Consequences for victims, which in many cases, can span generations.
No, The Secrets Mothers Keep isn’t all about motherhood and babies—that is from where story has sprung. The novel explores complex relationships all humans have, and the trials we face during the complicated act of living. This story is about love and loss, shame, grief, regret and hope. It’s about the ease with which the past can drag us down the long branch of time, never allowing us to be truly here, now. It questions morality and the different cultural landscapes generations have had to negotiate.
But at the end of the day, these are my thoughts. I can only tell from where this story arose and my intentions for it. Once you, the reader, find it in your hands and experience the The Secrets Mothers Keep for yourself, your interpretation will be completely unique for you in all the ways it needs to, and can, be.
The Secrets Mothers Keep is available from Amazon only, worldwide.
This novel is available in paperback and e-book.
Paperback* release has been fast-tracked and you are able to order your copy now.
E-book is available for pre-order and due for release on 31 January 2019.
*Australian readers, you will need to order your paperback copy from the Amazon.com store. All other countries are as per usual.
One Family. Three generations. A common goal to unite them. A lifetime of secrets to divide them. But could uncovering the truth be the only way that this family can finally heal? Three generations of women find their way back home to Tasmania. They embark on a project together to renovate the family manor and convert it into a bed and breakfast. After a tumultuous life of pain and betrayal, Mary swore she’d never let anyone hurt her or her family again. But in order to keep her word, she has to guard a secret she swore to keep fifty years earlier. But with the family now under the one roof, and the past tampered with, the foundations of this secret are shaken. Mary always believed that hiding the truth was protecting the family, but when all is exposed, she finds that by keeping her secret, she was the one hurting them all.