One of the highlights of running our MomAdvice Book Club has been our author interviews. It is truly a dream come true to share these interviews with you and to get to ask writers my questions about their process, their pieces, and their own recommendations for great books.
With that in mind, I am starting a new series called, “Sundays With Writers.” It will not be a weekly feature, but as I read books that I think you will love, I will share an interview with you about them and about their books. It gives me the chance to continue sharing about incredible books and the beautiful minds and thoughts behind their creation. It also gives me a chance to swim a bit more in their words and hopefully share about an author you may not know about. So grab your coffee and let’s chat about beautiful books together!
We will begin our series with an incredible book that I hope you will run out and pick up! It is called, “Hush Little Baby,” written by Suzanne Redfearn. It is a well-paced psychological thriller that I could not put down. The recommendation came from my friend Kristen, at Dine & Dish, and as I closed on the final pages, I knew that I needed to interview her.
Hush Little Baby is the story of a woman named Jillian Kane who has the life that she always dreamed of. She is a successful businesswoman, she has two beautiful kids, she wants for nothing financially, and her husband is a well-respected cop who every woman wish she had. Jillian is living with a secret though. For nine years, her husband has abused her and he is calculating enough to abuse her in ways that no one would ever suspect that she is a victim.
When things escalate too far, Jillian decides to run away from him with her two kids. Unfortunately, she has no money, no plan, and no one that she can turn to. It is in this most pivotal moment of her life that she develops unlikely friendships and learns to finally save herself and her kids. Her husband though, is a cop and is determined to do everything in his power to get his children back…and kill her.
I could not put this book down because I was so worried about Jillian and her kids. For two days, every moment I had, I was reading this to make sure that they could get to safety. When I say that I had my heart all wrapped up in this one, it would not be an understatement.
Today I am talking with Suzanne about her amazing book and a little bit about her process in writing this!
The abuse that Jillian suffers is so painful to read through and yet illustrates how important it is for her to break free. Did you struggle with this as you were writing these scenes?
In order to accurately depict what Jillian was going through, I needed to do extensive research on domestic violence and reading the first person accounts and testimonials of victims was very difficult. And then internalizing what I’d read so I could use it in the story was exhausting. Writing is a lot like acting, in order to do it well, you need to get inside your character’s head, put yourself in their life, and experience what they are going through. Jillian is a lot like me in some ways, so it wasn’t difficult to feel her plight. The nice thing about being an author is that, unlike my characters, when it gets to be too much, I can step away and return to my real life, the one that is loving and warm and not full of violence and fear.
One thing that really struck me in your book was that Jillian often thinks of herself in pivotal moments and not her children. This part really pulled at my heartstrings, but I wonder if it was meant to do that. Was this meant to showcase the guilt that we all have as mothers in putting our own needs first?
Great question and one I haven’t been asked. This was a result of the research I did as well as my experience of being a mom myself. Oftentimes this is the dilemma an abused woman faces, save herself or stay to protect her kids. Fear plays havoc on the psyche and self preservation is an instinct that is hard to override. But you’re right about the resulting guilt that occurs after a woman has those treacherous thoughts. Even if she doesn’t act on them, it can be devastating. Some readers have told me they didn’t like Jillian because they didn’t think she was a good mother. I would defend that she is a real mother, one who is not perfect, who sometimes made mistakes and had selfish thoughts (haven’t we all?), who had been beat down to believe she wasn’t a good mother, but who ultimately risked everything to save her kids.
There is a pretty scary scene for me, as a mom, when Jillian finds her son torturing a frog at a birthday party. Was this meant to show us how the abuse had weaved its way into Drew’s life?
Thank you for picking up on that. I think it was a pivotal moment foretelling of the perilous path Drew was on to follow in his dad’s footsteps. Abuse begets abuse, and I believe it is because of that moment that Jillian realizes something needs to change, if not to save herself, to save her kids. I contrasted the frog scene with the gift scene of the Hollyhock seeds to show that Drew is at a crossroads and that there is still hope to save him.
I had a secret hope that you would bring Jillian back to the Flying Goat and reunite her with the people that helped keep her safe. Did you consider bringing her back or weaving those characters in at the end?
So many readers have mentioned this, and I too fell in love with Goat and Paul and the entire crew from Elmer City, but the story told itself and ended where it was supposed to. I will leave it to the readers’ imaginations to figure out when and where their paths cross again.
I find it so unbelievable that this is your first novel- the writing is so beautiful and the scenes were woven together so well. It reminded me a lot of some of my favorite books from Heather Gudenkauf or Diane Chamberlain. Since you are an architect by profession, what brought you to this moment in your life to pursue writing and was this a difficult career transition for you?
I am what someone termed an accidental author. I did not go to school for writing and never considered becoming an author, but one day I sat down with an idea for a story and started to write and it poured out of me (that was seven years ago and it was not Hush Little Baby), and I discovered that I love to tell stories. My grandfather was a storyteller, and I believe I inherited the gift from him. I was hooked, and since architecture had tanked with the recession, I had time on my hands, so I set out to learn the craft and kept writing. Hush Little Baby is the fifth novel I wrote but the first one to get published. I still love architecture, and, if inspired, I will switch hats again and build something. It’s not one or the other for me, it’s wherever I’m at in any given moment of time. For now, the stories continue to flow, so I continue to peck at the keys, but who knows where this crazy path will lead or what I will do next.
If you could tell anyone to read one book (other than your own) what would that book be?
What do you have in store for us with your next project?
I am very excited about the next project. It is another story about a mother protecting her children but in a very different context and with a very different protagonist. I can’t disclose more than that, other than to say, it’s another rollercoaster ride of emotion.
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