Every book I’ve ever written has started with a question.
What would happen if…Why do people…Is it bad when…Where do people turn to when…Who deserves…When is it okay to…How can someone…
When I began writing Wildfire, it was a women’s fiction. It was solely a story about a woman who would go to any lengths to protect her daughter, including the girl’s father. It was a story about a woman so closed off and afraid that she became the thing that she was scared of.
Throughout Wildfire, Briggs is constantly at war with herself over what to do to keep her daughter safe from a person who is stalking them.
I don’t want to spoil the book for those who haven’t read it, but the entire story culminates around Briggs’s realization that in her effort to keep her child close, she’s pushed her away.
My own daughter is six at the time of writing this, and a lot of Briggs and Millie’s journey is rooted in my fears and struggles as a mother. Mom judgement is vast and deep, especially in the internet age.
We’re all trying our best, and we’re all getting it wrong (according to someone online who doesn’t know shit about our circumstances). The best bit of parenting advice I got when I had a child was:
There are so many things to learn when stepping into parenthood, and we’re tossed around in the river of advice while trying not to get sucked into the undercurrent of shame and judgment, all while keeping a tiny human alive.
It’s exhausting and terrifying.
After a long and traumatic pregnancy, I struggled for over a year with undiagnosed postpartum anxiety. Randomly and without notice, I would fall into vivid hallucinations of horrible things happening to my baby, and my body would respond as if it were real.
Slowly I began to withdraw from everyone around me, staying inside and trusting no one with her care. I was the only one who could protect her from these terrible things that, in reality, were both unlikely and borderline ridiculous. I knew I was being paranoid and that these vivid scenarios were sometimes not even physically possible, so I kept it to myself.
Once I finally broke and told my partner what was happening in my head, things moved quickly to getting help (the perks of a partner who is a mental wellness counsellor-he gets it).
This book was part of my healing process. Briggs is a mom who slowly spirals into unreasonable attempts to shield her daughter that eventually blow up in her face. Danger, stalkers, and having her worst fears realized were how I untangled my overprotective parenting.
Readers don’t like Briggs, and I find that interesting (see above mom-shaming statements) because there are times when I didn’t like her either, even though her fears/paranoia/flaws are based on my own.
But I didn’t set out to make Briggs likable. And like all my books, this one took on a life of its own and shifted from a women’s fiction to a romance to romantic suspense to a family saga.
But I started this book with a simple question that I was grappling with at the time.
What happens when in an effort to protect your children from suffering, you become the one that causes it?
Grab a copy of Wildfire