Bev Thomas worked as a Clinical psychologist in the NHS for many years and has always been interested in why people do what they do. A large part of her work as a therapist was helping people to make sense of their lives – to tell their life stories, and make sense of how the past relates to something in the present. So - the switch from therapy to novels was not such a leap as it might seem!
Bev no longer works as a therapist, but instead works in mental health services supporting staff and teams in their work. She is passionate about raising the profile of psychological and mental health workers. A Good Enough Mother is about a psychotherapist – and opens the door to the secret world of therapist and patient. It’s also raises questions about the limitations and responsibilities of motherhood.
Bev is speaking at The Riff Raff on March 7th. Come meet her and hear more about her publishing journey. Tickets available here.
Describe the exact moment you decided to write your book?
I’d written a lot before this book, and I was interested in exploring grief and loss as a theme. I’d initially been reluctant to write about my professional world in fiction. I didn’t want to write about a patient / client – and it was only when I flipped the concept and made the therapist the protagonist that the story began to emerge. What if a brilliant therapist is struggling with the disappearance of her 17 year old son, and she then sees a new patient who looks just like him..? The book became a place to explore the boundaries between client and therapist and the devastating consequence when they get blurred or broken.
I took part of the book on an Arvon course – and had real encouragement from the tutor to finish it – so that really helped.
What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting to write it?
Dual time lines are hard! Two parallel story strands that shift back and forth through past and present were complicated at the editing phase. Stuff I’d ignored, came back to haunt me, like the fact that a character’s pregnancy was a bit too long…a gestation of 16 months. Thank goodness for brilliant copy editors!
What did you enjoy most about writing it?
I loved writing the therapy scenes. It’s obviously an area I knew well, but to then conjure something up from the imagination in terms of the cases was great. I wanted to create the intimacy, yet claustrophobic nature of the sessions between Ruth and Dan.
I have worked with brilliant clinicians over the years, so it was also quite interesting to write a character who has an achilles heel, and makes a mistake.
And the worst part?
Wanting to do the world justice, a feeling of wanting to get it right, given I am still involved in the field. I wanted to ensure that the therapy was well represented and that issues around mental health were depicted well and fairly.
What’s your go-to procrastination method?
It used to be reading other people’s books. But since I’ve joined twitter, it’s scrolling endless through that. Might need to come off it if I’m going to crack on with any new writing…!
Go-to writing snacks?
Coffee..crisps..biscuits..anything that’s in the fridge...
The book that changed you?
I’m not sure about changing me – but two I’ve read that have really stayed with me - Map of the World a novel by Jane Hamilton and Notes to Self – essays by Emilie Pine.
Your pump up song?
Dreams - The Cranberries
One piece of advice you’d give first time writers hoping to get a book published?
KEEP GOING!! And a book that doesn’t go anywhere isn’t a failure – but one that makes the next one better.
Why do you write?
I’ve asked myself this question many times over the years… The truth is, I don’t really know, other than it is something I love doing, and I feel compelled to do. I love finding a way of expressing an emotion or thought in words, which then hopefully has some connection with a reader.
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