Writing for me began out of the blue. I was a nurse and had just finished working a night shift. I came home, and instead of going to bed, I picked up a pen and a notepad and started a story. The day flew by, and I almost forgot to pick up the children from school. What on earth had I been doing? Sitting there all day writing, and for what? I was a nurse. Not a writer. The only thing I’d ever written were these pages of a story on my kitchen table.
I never spoke about this to anyone. The idea of it would have sounded daft. But when the house was empty and I was home alone, I would pick up a pen and carry on. From the beginning I knew it was hard work. I was left as exhausted as from working as a nurse. The only difference being, when my shift ended at the hospital, I would go home. With writing, I carried on and forgot there was clock.
Telling that story made time slip away. I would raise my head and be surprised to see night had fallen or daylight arriving. These days, it is not uncommon for me to forget the season we are in. If the story I am writing is set in the autumn, it takes seeing daffodils in the garden to remind me it is spring. Did I mention that writing can drive you crazy?
It is a solitary exercise. It is just you and the voice inside your head. Hearing words that you need to put down, which you then change, rearrange, delete, or write again. The internal voice never stops. It can talk for hours. It certainly won’t let you sleep. That’s for sure.
The stories I write are not gentle. I tell about horrible behaviours which requires me to imagine horrible things. When putting down what a character is feeling, I practice something not dissimilar to what I was taught as a student nurse. ‘Put yourself in your patient’s shoes,’ the tutor would say. ‘It will make you a good nurse.’
When a story comes in my head, I feel a slight trepidation. For I know as soon as I start it, time won’t belong to me. For the duration it takes to tell, I will have no willpower to stop writing. It becomes like an addiction that I have to do every day. The pull of the characters become stronger. They become real people to me. I find myself loving them or hating them for who they are or for what they do. Occasionally, I end up crying for them. Because, even though this is only inside my head, I see them as real. I can’t unimagine them until their story is told.
Am I a writer? I think because it began so abruptly, I find it hard sometimes to call myself one. It has only been four years since my first book was published. Hardly anytime at all. So I usually say, I’m a nurse or an ex nurse – and I write as well. I know I would find it difficult to stop. I had a small taste of it last year when I lost vision in one eye and looked out a blurry window from the other. I couldn’t see the words on the screen. The optician didn’t want to make a guess. She sent me to the hospital. On the way there, I had one thought. How will I write if I can’t see? Two operations restored my vision. But that thought stays with me.
I think inspiration must have come from my years of nursing, and from growing up in a large Irish family. With eleven brothers and sisters there was a lot of characters in my life. Having parents old enough to be my grandparents was a gift. They had real life stories to tell. About a different kind of childhood. What it was like to walk barefoot to school, and grow up in an orphanage in the 1920s. My childhood was full of rich stories, of borrowed memories and real ones too.
I think when I started writing I fell down a rabbit hole. Where an alternative reality awaited. Where I would meet characters that don’t live in the real world. And for a while time stops still.
The Silent Mother is my forth book and the characters in my head are now quiet. Their story has been told. So I can now rest and look around and see what I’ve missed while I’ve been away.
Right now, I’m looking out at my garden, seeing birthday decorations from my daughter’s party getting rained on. The real event happened when the weather was fine. But like a switch in my brain, I change what is real and see the garden now as belonging to someone else. The birthday decorations are for someone I haven’t met.
Perhaps the birthday party didn’t happen? But why would that be? Did no one arrive?
And this is how it begins…
I climb out of the rabbit hole and fall straight back in. Where no doubt I will be gone for a while.
(c) Liz Lawler
About The Silent Mother:
‘I’m so very sorry. But your son is dead.’
As I hear the words every mother dreads my pulse races and I go cold. But even as my world turns upside down I know the things I’m being told just don’t add up. I have to find out what really happened the night my beautiful boy died…
The police tell me it was a tragedy no one could have prevented. But then they reveal the terrible things Tom was keeping from me. The person they describe is nothing like the decent, honest man I raised. Newly qualified as a doctor, Tom had such a bright future ahead of him.
A mother knows her own child. And I’m determined to prove my son’s innocence.
It’s the last thing I will ever be able to do for him. So I have come to the city where he lived and moved into his empty flat under a different name.
When I discover his diary, it becomes clear his death wasn’t an accident.
And as I get to know Tom’s friends and neighbours I realise they’re all keeping secrets.
But as I get closer to the truth, I realise my life is in danger too…
Unbelievably addictive and totally gripping with a twist you won’t see coming, The Silent Mother is a book you won’t be able to put down. Fans of The Perfect Couple, B A Paris and JP Delaney will be absolutely hooked from the very first page.
Order your copy online here.