In conversation with... Caroline Bond

Hi Caroline! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the upcoming publication of The Second Child. Can you please briefly tell us what it is about?

A: It’s about parental expectations and what happens when those expectations aren’t fulfilled.

Did you have the plot entirely figured out when you started writing or did it develop before your eyes as the characters grew on the page and did something that you were not expecting?

A: I had my ending very early on, as well a clear sense of the key characters and core elements of the story.

I did draft a plan, but I didn't stick to it.  Anne in particular grew in importance and complexity as I wrote the book and that changed the plot and the tone quite radically. Also good editorial advice, from my agent, Judith Murray, and my editor at Corvus, Sara O’Keeffe, helped shape the book. It is a lot shorter than it started out. I do have the whole backstory of Sarah and Phil getting together if anyone wants a prequel!

I definitely vote YES for the prequel! The Second Child is a fictional work but you must have had to research the clinical details of Lauren’s condition. What resources did you use and how much did you enjoy this process?

A: RTS is a bit closer to home for me than that.

My eldest daughter has the condition. That was one of the motivators for writing. I needed a job I could do at home. Which is partly true.

More interesting for readers, perhaps, is that one of the most ‘necessary’ and helpful responses to having a severely disabled child is that you have to stop yourself thinking ‘what if’. You have to close down the alternatives in order to accept the reality of your situation and, thereby, continue to survive and thrive as a family.

In contrast… the joy of writing fiction is the ‘what if.’

The Second Child gave me the freedom to think about a different world, one full of alternatives action, emotions and outcomes in a way that real life obviously doesn’t.

[Wow that was a bit philosophical for a Wednesday morning!  It must be the cold getting to me.]

This is your debut novel. How did your book deal come about and how did you feel when you held the printed book in your hands for the first time?

A: I am survivor of the ‘slush’ pile.

I submitted my synopsis and five chapters to Greene and Heaton, and a number of other agents, and got the email you’re hoping for… from two agencies. Then full submission, then an exciting meeting with Judith, then re-writes, then submission to publishers. Again two expressed firm interest. Corvus offered me a two-book deal quickly. I met Sara, was impressed, and agreed the deal. Which sounds straightforward, but it has been interesting, challenging and exciting in equal measure.

I have learnt a lot about my own writing and the business in the past eighteen months.

Do you have any celebratory plans for publication day?

A: A party with family and friends soon after my pub date is planned. Because, why not!

Exactly! Why not! If this novel could be turned into a film, who would you cast in the roles of Sarah, Phil and Anne?

A: I think the bigger issue is who would they cast as Lauren? I would support it being a disabled actor.

Not sure as to my main protagonists. For TV, John Sims and Gina Mckee for Phil and Sarah, and Keeley Hawes for Anne.

Hollywood, Ryan Gosling after La La Land might be nice!

Without giving too much away, can you tell us about a scene in the book that you love or that was particularly difficult to write?

A: The scene I love is, oddly enough, the burger van scene, when Phil shows the lady flipping burgers the photo of Rosie as a baby and she thinks she is a newborn and congratulates him on his new daughter.

The tough scene was the one near the end between Anne and Sarah. There is so much at stake and such strong emotions are play. I wanted it to be powerful and credible, without being melodramatic. Readers will be the judge of whether I’ve pulled it off.

Is there anything that didn’t make it into the final version of the book?

A: Tonnes.

Ali had a bigger role in early drafts, there was an additional plot twist regarding Lauren’s parentage and there was heaps of Sarah and Phil’s backstory.

All out, but all still in ...in the sense of my grasp of my character’s motivations and relationships.

If you are already working on your next writing project, would you mind giving us a little anticipation of what we are to expect?

A: Book two is drafted and I have Sarah’s wise words of wisdom ringing in my ears, so I’m about to dive back into it. The key theme is the damage that the abandonment of a child can have on the adult they become.

Due to the popularity of social networking websites, interacting with readers – be it via Twitter, Facebook Instagram etc. – is becoming increasingly important. How do you cope with these new demands on authors and do you think that they somehow disrupt your writing schedule?

A: I’ll be honest, as a debut writer I’m delighted by any attention and fascinated to finally read some reviews. The perverse side of me is waiting for the bad ones. I honestly do want to know what doesn't work in my books. My Brownie instinct to ‘do better’ is strong and that improvement only comes with criticism.

What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?

A: Find people to pull your writing apart. Everbody needs advice. You cannot ever be a fresh reader of your own work.

Thank you for your time, Caroline!

The Second Child is going to be published on March 22nd. Don't miss out!

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