The main theme of this novel is single parenthood and the struggle Parker faces to balance his work life, his personal life and fit a love life around them. I explain in greater my emotional attachment to this story in this Interview I had with Paul Hamilton but I will summarise here. I spent many years with Parker, living his life with him, feeling his pain and feeling his joy. Every aspect of his story is very real for me and although I’ve never experienced single parenthood in my real life, Parker and I have suffered together and we’ve both come out stronger. [I’m aware that I may sound crazy but stay with me.]
My library card loans must have raised a few eyebrows when I took many books out on single parenthood and it’s there where my true understanding begun. Although In Between Dreams need a major edit and TLC to nurture the basis of a good story and fix the technical aspects, I am confident in my execution. I may not have lost a lover and been left with a child, but I am familiar with the pain that dominates Parker’s life and I can truly understand what he suffers through.
I’ve read many books and as far as I understand, it’s important to involve your child in your decision making but not to let them decide for you. In my novel, whether or not it may be ‘right’, Parker is heavily involved in allowing Joshua [his son] to make the decisions for him. He’s become so obsessed with his day job as a doctor, spending the remaining time with his son, that he often forgets to have what some may call a ‘normal’ life. When love comes along, he puts the ball into Joshua’s court to make a decision. Perhaps this may be wrong – giving the child too much power, but Parker doesn’t care. A life with a happy healthy child is better than putting his son through another possible break up or worse – divorce.
More importantly, how easy is it for a single parent to move on with their lives after a divorce (messy or relatively nice), and return to life as they knew it? In Parker’s case [excusing other sources making it difficult] he struggled to find his feet again. With Cleopatra to guide him, and his mother, he would have been lost.
Again, I’ve never been married, divorced or what Parker has been through but emotionally I’ve felt that intense feeling of rejection where his best efforts weren’t enough, and giving his heart has gotten him hurt in the bigger picture. The first woman he’d ever cared for helped him to clean himself up and start the pathway towards a life he could be proud of but when she disappeared with spiteful words and a new born, how could he just move on? Admittedly it took his years to become comfortable with his second home becoming the Hospital he worked at, and his home bringing him time with his son, he had finally found the strength.
Admittedly, it must a very difficult job: taking the responsibility of both parents, giving double the love to make up for the missing component, and filling your child with joy but it comes with a very rewarding price. Is it worth putting your life on hold to ensure your child can make the best of theirs, or would you as a single parent search for love again? Even more so, if love found you, would you take the risk of everything falling apart with more than just your broken heart to deal with?
Some say write what you know, but I prefer to pick subjects that genuinely interest me, characters with different backgrounds and experiences. After all, we learn through what we see and what we read. This story holds a very special place in my heart and it is with that in mind that I constructed the novel.
It’s only in our darkest moments that we truly learn who we can lean on, and in those moments of loss and weakness that we truly learn who are. We can’t say how we’d respond to a situation unless we’ve physically in those shoes, facing those challenges. Writing has allowed me to live different lives, from different backgrounds and come to a conclusion. How would I handle those situations? I can only give my interpretation through Parker’s eyes, his thoughts, his pain and his life.
Single parenthood can be easily judged from the outside. Without knowing anything, people can easily judge women for being promiscuous, unsafe and blame the men for giving up when they had responsibilities.
But life happens. People change, feelings change. And often these children are victim to life’s cruel choices. Sometimes the children see both parents and life resumes as normal, but for children, like Joshua, they’re left with unanswered questions. Eventually Joshua gets them as far as Parker can explain, but it’s a struggle for them both.
If any readers are single parents, through divorce, death or children outside of wedlock, I’d love to hear your stories, draw inspiration from them to help bring Parker’s story to life.
- The Challenges of Single Parenthood (eleanorvincent.com)
- Alarming Rise of Single Parenthood (dailybrowse.wordpress.com)
- The Challenges of Single Parenthood by Eleanor Vincent (momecentric.com)
- Should We Care If Marriage Disappears? (psychologytoday.com)
- JK Rowling: Single Motherhood Is The Thing I’m Most Proud Of (huffingtonpost.com)
- In Between Dreams – Prologue preview. (calliehunter.wordpress.com)
- A Response to JK Rowling: Singling Out the Single Parent (blogofthecourtier.com)
- How to: Achieve a work/life balance (reed.co.uk)