I’ve been so excited this week to finally share the cover for the upcoming audiobook release of my memoir Daffodils – the image is beautiful, simple, the colours bright, and the bunch of daffodils perfect. Here it is again.
I started writing the book at the end of 2019, after my private world fell apart, and just before the outside world shut down due to Covid. The process was terrifying, empowering, eye-opening, and ultimately life changing. I was forced to address aspects of my childhood I’d never fully explored, to dissect the complex relationship with my mother, to deal with the unexpected consequences of that, and of course to look fully at the day my mother jumped from the Humber Bridge. I made big decisions about my life now as a result.
I shared my journey writing the book both here on my website and on social media; how I used my recently acquired care records to flesh out the gaps in my memory, how I recorded my siblings’ thoughts and recollections, and those of my uncle, and incorporated those aspects too, how I coped with the aftermath of my mother’s bridge jump, and how the pandemic unfolded and became part of the narrative halfway through.
Two and a half years ago, here, I shared the photograph I took of some early daffodils the morning my mother jumped. That post had more views than any I’d written before. As a result, I got the most supportive messages from readers. When I did literary events and festivals that year, people gave me daffodil-inspired gifts and cards. When spring arrived, followers sent me pictures of first daffodils they had spotted. On my fiftieth birthday I got so many daffodil related presents that the house was awash with yellow. I’ll never forget these kindnesses.
Madeleine Black, who shared her brutal childhood rape and the years of recovery in her book Unbroken, often encouraged me to write my own story, particularly after she read Maria in the Moon, a novel I call the memoir I could never write. Madeleine is an author and public speaker who has encouraged so many women to speak out about their experiences. We did some #metoo panels together, became close friends, and I kept saying ‘Maybe one day’ when asked if I would forsake my fiction in search of a deeper story.
That day came nine months after my mother jumped off the Humber Bridge. I knew this violent act that tore the family apart was a starting point for the memoir I’d always wanted to write. It’s great that we are talking about suicide and mental health far more today, but we often forget the families of those who want to die; the fallout and pain that they too experience.
Writing my own story was a completely different experience to writing novels. I can hide behind the words in my fiction, but here, there was no such safety on the page. My siblings and uncle read it as I went, chapter by chapter, as did Madeleine Black. John Marrs – another dear author friend – read it as soon as I’d finished, when it was raw and unpolished, and gave helpful feedback. Later, other writerly friends Susie Lynes and Gill Paul read a more refined version. Now the book is finally released in audiobook on 1st April. I’m excited and yet nervous for people to listen to my story. I hope it will inspire other survivors to finally find their voices too. And I hope the peace it has given me to write it continues…
You can order the memoir here: