Inkwater Press sits down with author Simone Lee to discuss her 2011 novel An Accident Waiting to Happen.
Inkwater: Simone, thank you for writing this novel. Inkwater was thrilled to have the opportunity to publish this powerful work about a mother and her undying love for her complicated teenage daughter. When you first decided to write this book, what was it that you wanted to share with the world?
S.L.: I journaled for ten years writing down my thoughts, frustrations, fears, and the terrible pain I felt during these difficult adolescent/teen years of my daughter. As my daughter began to find balance in her life I felt some relieve from my anxieties, frustrations and guilt. I believed there were other mothers experiencing similar situations and I wanted to share my story with them.
Inkwater: Lara Brown, the mother and main character in An Accident Waiting to Happen, has to grapple with an array of emotions in this novel. What was the most difficult emotion that you had to confront while writing it?
S.L.: Fear of failure. I had not been the kind of mother my daughter needed. I had failed her terribly and the guilt was emotionally draining. I felt so disconnected from my daughter. Whenever we spoke there was tension, a lack of honesty. Neither one of us really said what was on our minds. I am afraid that is still true to this day.
Inkwater: We were particularly drawn to the breadth of the main character’s love for her daughter. How do you believe that love for a complicated child differs from the love for another?
S.L.: I believe we love more deeply on every level with a complicated child. I think this is also true in our relationships with other people, and with our dogs and horses. Those who are independent and complicated grab our attention and heart. This is also true with the child that has not been born normal and needs more attention and love than the child that is normal at birth.
Inkwater: Only one quote is shared on the front cover of your book: “’Stop trying to save me,’ shouted Sarah at 15.” Do you believe it is possible for a mother like Lara to “stop trying to save” her daughter?
S.L.: No, absolutely not. We love our difficult children and would use our last breath to save them. My daughter shouted this on many occasions when she had indeed almost gone over the edge and I was trying to hold her back from certain tragedy.
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Inkwater: In more ways than one, Sarah is a creative character. Inside the novel, the reader can see photographs Sarah had once drawn and read short stories that she had once written. What do you think her stories and photos contribute to the book as a whole?
S.L.: These stories and drawings were key to what was going on with my daughter and should have been taken seriously. I failed to recognize this even though I had been called by a school counsellor, when my daughter was twelve, who was very concerned about stories and drawings my daughter was turning in for assignments. At the time, I spoke with my daughter but she assured me that there were no problems. Could she have been “reaching out”? I will never know.
Inkwater: As much as this book is full of action, it is also filled with reflection and insight into the mind of a caring mother. What do you believe this book could provide other parents who are struggling with their troublesome child?
S.L.: Comfort. Parents need to know they are not alone, that they are not failures. The hormones of adolescents and teenagers are raging and at the same time they are not feeling comfortable with their bodies; they are under tremendous peer pressure. They are extremely fragile.
Inkwater: After everything that Lara has learned, would she react differently if she had to confront these issues all over again?
S.L.: Yes. Sarah would have started counselling and therapy sooner. At the age of twelve. She would have been transferred from public school and enrolled once again in private school, where she began the initial five years of her formal education.
S.L.: It is important to talk with others who are dealing with troubled adolescents/teens and to seek help, including counselling, as soon as you recognize a problem.