Published by Mantle/Pan Macmillan (4 October 2018)
Available in ebook, hardback and paperback
I was honoured to be asked to take part in the blog tour earlier in the year to celebrate the hardback release of Only Child and I’m delighted to be featuring Only Child on the blog again to celebrate the paperback launch today, with a Q&A with author Rhiannon Navin. My thanks to Ellis of Pan Mac for the invitation and to Rhiannon for kindly answering my questions.
Also, my congratulations as Only Child has been selected for the October Richard and Judy Bookclub
You can read what I thought about Only Child here here but here is a snippet of my review.
Only Child is a stunning and powerful debut that my review can’t possibly do justice to. A family, and community, torn to shreds at the hands of another. Family relationships are put under severe strain when trying to come to terms with losing a child in this way.
In my opinion, the author perfectly articulated Zach’s emotions and his distress and bewilderment at events. For all his simplistic way of describing things, he seemed wise beyond his years and actually put some of the adults to shame with their behaviour.
Only Child is an emotional and often heartbreaking read but because of Zach it is also an uplifting one too. I thought it was wonderful and it deserves to be a massive success for the author.
Welcome to the blog Rhiannon. Can you tell a little of your background and why you wrote Only Child
Thank you for having me. I was born and raised in Germany and now live just outside of New York City. I am a stay at home mum of three and Only Child is the first story I’ve ever written. It was a personal experience that inspired me to sit down and write Only Child. Shortly after my twins Frankie and Garrett started kindergarten three years ago, they experienced their first lockdown drill at school. That same afternoon, I found Garrett hiding from the “bad guy” underneath our dining room table. He was terrified. This came on the heels of the horrendous shooting at Sandy Hook that just left me reeling. That morning, when twenty-year-old Adam Lanza marched into Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed twenty children and six adults, I had dropped my oldest son Samuel off at school like I did every day. Samuel was in first grade then — the same age as many of the young victims — and until that horrifying day I believed his school was a safe place for him. Since then, every single time I walk up to my children’s school, a quick “what if?” crosses my mind: What if a shooter tries to get in through the front door? Why is the back gate open; what if an intruder got in through there?
I was desperate for an outlet for my fears and worries. I found it in writing Only Child.
How much research was it necessary to do. Did you contact any of the families affected by these tragedies
I spent many, many hours educating myself about grief, its progression and its manifestation, especially in children. I read accounts of children who lived through traumatic situations and experienced profound loss. It was heartbreaking research, but inspiring, too. Children are so resilient and brave and wise in the way they confront and process their reality.
The trauma caused to the entire family in Only Child was immeasurable. How did you cope with writing about such broken people. Were you able to switch off or were they constantly in your head
I wrote ONLY CHILD with my own family in mind. I pictured my children in Zach’s position and myself in Melissa’s. This really intensified the emotions I felt while writing this story manifold. I often emerged from a writing session feeling completely gutted and disoriented. I had to pull myself together and splash some cold water on my face before my kids came home on the school bus.
Which part of the writing process do you enjoy the most or find the most difficult?
I love plotting a story, getting to know my characters and learning about what makes them tick. The actual writing is such an emotional rollercoaster for me. In any given five-minute span I can go from “wow, these are the best words ever written” to “this is awful, I’m a complete fraud,” and back again. The most difficult part happens almost every day and it’s overcoming the anxiety I feel every day when I first sit down to write. It’s just the initial action of sitting down and diving in that’s so intimidating every time. But once I get going, I absolutely love it.
Do you plan in detail or just write and see where the story takes you
I’m a big fan of plotting and planning. I admit that I’m a control freak and just letting myself drift is not something I’m very good at. I like to get to know my characters first and have a good idea of where they’re headed before I begin. However, that doesn’t mean I always stick to my outline religiously. One of the biggest surprises while writing Only Child, and also since then, has been how I sometimes get lost while writing. Sometimes I sit down in the morning and think I know exactly what scene I need to write that day, only to emerge several hours later having written something completely unplanned.
What does the future hold for your writing. Are you planning/writing another book
I hope so! Now that I’m hooked on writing, I can’t imagine ever not doing it. I am currently working on another story. I don’t want to jinx it by talking about it too much, but like Only Child, it’s a story that deals with a family in peril, although an entirely different kind of peril.
| About the Author |
Rhiannon Navin grew up in Germany before a career in advertising took her to America. Now a full-time mother and writer, she lives in New York with her husband, three children and two cats.
Only Child is her first novel and with this story Rhiannon hopes to help bring about change and contribute to the important conversation about US gun control in a meaningful way.