Alison is out of the ordinary. Growing up in Burnley – how many of us can make such a claim? She then went to live in Crete, moving on to the Middle East and later the Far East.
Determined to have a job she repeatedly got fired for insubordination. Adamant she would never get married, she‘s spent the last fifteen years living with Mark. Earnest she would not have children, she had two. And convinced she would never realise her childhood dream and become a writer; she has written three books – so far.
How so contrary?
Alison doesn’t know, but confesses her grandfather used to ask her that same question. He also used to say she was telling stories. Telling stories is something she does very well. Her first book Our Father Who Art Out There…Somewhere is entertaining and deeply engaging. To Alison’s genuine surprise readers reception has been both enthusiastic and emotional. ‘It has been a revelation,‘ she admits: ‘People have come up to me and told me I’ve helped them deal with their own, similar situations. I never realized my writing could be good for other people too,‘ she explains.
On the arrival of her children, Alison became consumed by the need to find her birth-father. Her mother had re-married when she was very young, she was adopted by her stepfather and although she always knew she had a different dad, she felt it wasn’t something you could talk about as a family. But her own children fostered the need to know where she had come from and while searching for her father, the scene in her mind was set for their happy, loving reunion, complete with her proud introduction of her partner to her birth father and her father triumphant with his grandchildren in his arms…… Instead she got a letter – he did not wish to have contact with her.
Alison was not prepared for such a brutal blow. ‘I was reeling; how could anyone reject their own child and go on living as if s/he had never existed? – How could he reject ME!?’ she exclaims. The hurt and disbelief went deep but along the road she discovered writing brought her relief. ‘I found writing fiction allowed me to examine my emotions from a safe distance. I needed to mourn, and writing down meant being able to let go somehow,’ she muses.
At first Alison was only able to write about her emotions, but slowly, like peeling an onion (tears and all) she was able to go closer and closer to the core of her distress. As she finally was ready to face her pain head on, a character was born: Lily. Lily was someone who, like Alison, secretly believed her father would never voluntary have given her up. Unlike Alison however, Lily at 19 with her mother dead and no children or husband to protect or care for, was given free rein to unrestrained emotion and selfish indulgence.
Alison’s friend, who was allowed to read her passionate and sometimes outrageous scribblings (in one scene Lily kidnaps her father‘s other daughter and as she refuses to believe that her dad lied to her, Lily shows her the wedding album) was impressed. ‘She researched ‘chick noir’ and found a publisher, Caffeine Nights,’ says Alison. ‘I only sent it to them because it said on their web-site they’d give feedback on rejected manuscripts. I nearly fell off my chair when they said yes.’
And she continues to smile, because her fathers refusal to acknowledge her as his daughter sent her on a journey where she discovered that writing is not only useful for escaping the day to day stresses, but also for gaining a clear vision and control over her own emotional life. But, most importantly, he has inadvertently given her the opportunity to help others and for that she is truly grateful.
Since 2005 parents can no longer have a child anonymously, but there are still families today, living with ‘the secret’ of having one or more adopted children. The concealment may go on longer when there is one natural parent and half-siblings involved and more often than not the reason given is to protect the feelings of the adopted child. Alison is adamant that telling the truth early saves pain later.
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