You’ll remember Wendy Janes, proofreader extraordinaire, visited us not long ago and shared a masterful post on the differences between UK and US English (check here if you missed it). You might remember I mentioned that Wendy was working on her next book and she had promised to come and bring us news and more details about it. Well, she’s kept her promise and not only that, but she’s brought us a special feature about one of her characters, Sue, that I know she feels very close too (for reasons she has kindly decided to share with us. Wendy is a very brave woman and I’m proud she chose my blog to explain the circumstances of her character. I only know the condition from a professional point of view, but it’s still now quite misunderstood).
And here it is:
What Tim Knows, and other stories by Wendy Janes
A gallery-owner’s quest for beauty; a dancer in danger; a new mother struggling to cope with her baby; a sculptor’s search for inspiration; a teenager longing to live in the perfect family; a young boy lost and confused by the rules of life that everyone else seems to understand.
Six stand-alone short stories, spanning five decades. Each capturing a significant moment in the life of a different character.
Separate lives linked in subtle ways.
Special feature about one of the characters in the book, who, as Wendy explains, are characters from her beloved novel What Jennifer Knows.
In What Tim Knows, and other stories, six supporting characters from my novel What Jennifer Knows share their tales. Jennifer appears as a minor character in each, aging gracefully from student to grandmother.
Through the life experiences of Rollo, Cynthia, Sue, Gerald, Blythe and Tim, I explore a variety of themes, including, creativity, relationships, motherhood, marriage, adolescence and childhood.
While I feel very close to all my characters and the situations they find themselves in, there is one aspect of Sue’s story that is the most autobiographical piece that I have ever written.
We initially meet Sue just moments after she has given birth to her first child, and as the story develops we follow her through the first six weeks of her baby’s life. Unlike Sue, I had a loving husband. However, her experience of post-natal depression (PND) is my own.
An objective description of PND runs as follows: PND affects more than one in ten women, and is usually experienced within a year of giving birth. Symptoms can include, feeling tearful, sad, tired, irritable, apathetic and guilty. Mothers may also have problems concentrating and bonding with their child. It can have a big impact on families, but with the right support, symptoms can be reduced and most mothers make a full recovery.
My subjective description of my own PND runs more like this: I genuinely felt shell-shocked after the birth of my first son. I lived in a perpetual state of crippling anxiety, my mind churning day and night with potential calamities. Brief snatches of sleep were filled with nightmare images. Persistent feelings of deep sadness, bone-weary, mind-numbing exhaustion, loneliness, and overwhelming guilt continued for many months. How dare I feel so bad? I had a perfectly healthy child, we had no housing or money worries, my family all loved me and cared for me, but I couldn’t cope. I loved my child, but I was scared of him too.
For me, an infinitely patient husband and self-help gradually brought me back to normal. During my recovery I set up a local support group, which meant that when I had PND again with my second son, things weren’t as bad. I had a network of support, and many of those women are still my closest friends.
It’s vitally important that a mother with PND tells someone how she’s feeling – a partner, a friend, a health professional. Asking for help, admitting there’s a problem, can be the first steps to recovery.
I felt compelled to write Sue’s story to reach out and say that even if a mother and her baby get off to a rocky start like Sue and I did, it won’t always be that way. Soon, negative memories will be outweighed by positive ones.
Wendy Janes spends her time writing novels and short stories, running her freelance proofreading business and volunteering for The National Autistic Society’s Education Rights Service. Her first solo novel, What Jennifer Knows, was published in 2015, and she has recently released a collection of short stories entitled What Tim Knows, and other stories. You can connect with Wendy online and discover more about her writing via Twitter, her Facebook author page, and Amazon author pages (UK/US).
Links to What Tim Knows, and other stories on Amazon:
Thanks so much to Wendy Janes for introducing us to her new book, and especially for sharing with us the reasons why her character Sue is so close to her heart. Thanks to all of your for reading and don’t forget to like, share, comment, CLICK and follow Wendy everywhere! And we hope to have her back with us soon!