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Today we travel to Melbourne to chat with Rebecca Bowyer. She and I discuss how Alice in Wonderland, being a parenting blogger, the feeling of certainty, and Netflix sci-fi shows come together as part of Rebecca’s past and current life.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m an Australian writer of speculative fiction with a parenting focus – think Margaret Atwood meets Liane Moriarty. I started out my writing career in 2013 as a parenting blogger and have moved into book blogging and fiction writing.
I live in Melbourne with my husband and two gorgeous sons, aged 7 and 9.
If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?
Alice in Wonderland! I really enjoy the delightful nonsense which also seems somehow insightful and prophetic. As an adult I’ve loved Jasper Fforde’s books which make me feel like I’ve plunged back into a similar sort of world.
Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?
When I took time out from the professional workforce to be a stay-at-home mum I was disheartened by how invisible I’d become. It felt like the role of parenting wasn’t really valued by society. It was just a “break” until I could return and start earning money again.
I wanted to see what our society would look like if we suddenly decided that parenting was a truly valuable role. In a capitalist society, that would mean that it was a highly paid, valued profession requiring a college degree.
Of course, the darker side was that, in Maternal Instinct, you don’t get to raise your own child. At 6 months of age they’re handed over to the professional parents, the Maters and the Paters.
My novel focuses on the story of 19-year-old Monica, who never wanted a baby but, now that she has one, doesn’t want to give him up.
If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which one would it be and why, what would you do?
I’d turn into Monica. She’s 19 years old, she’s fearless and she knows exactly what she wants. I would enjoy moving in her skin and reliving the feeling of certainty. That feeling evaporates all too quickly with the knocks and bruises of adult life.
You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking?
“Baby Mine,” as sung by Bette Midler in Beaches. It always makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, in a good way.
At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?
I think younger me would tell me to slow down, there’s plenty of time! As I get older time seems to speed up, especially since I had kids, so it’s easy to start thinking that time must be running out. However, Margaret Atwood has just released a novel at the age of 82 – I’m not even half that age, so I still have many decades left to write more books (I hope!).
What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?
I Am Mother, on Netflix. I didn’t actually choose it – I watched it because my husband turned it on (we share a mutual love of Netflix sci-fi). It was a really interesting movie and a great example of the rise in science fiction which focuses on women and reproduction.
What are you currently reading?
The Fragments, by Toni Jordan. It’s an historical fiction novel about a book, thought to be lost to fire apart from a few fragments, and the clues which may lead to its rediscovery.
If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?
We have a gorgeous fluffy black 4-year-old schnoodle (schnauzer/poodle cross) named George. I’d ask him:
Why do you bark at other dogs walking by but lick every single strange human that gets near you?
Do you get lonely when nobody is home, or do you enjoy the peace and quiet?
What bargain can we strike that would stop you chewing the tops off every watering can we’ve ever owned?
What do you miss about being a kid?
I spent most of my childhood waiting to grow up, so – not much! I enjoy the autonomy that comes with being an adult.
I do, however, miss the vast tracts of empty time I had as a kid. I remember glorious entire days spent in front of the heater in winter, just reading.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve just finished the first draft of my next novel, working title Time Thief. It’s based on the premise of what if, as a parent, you could literally buy time? How nice would that be?!
I’ll let that sit in the digital drawer and simmer for a month or two before I return to it.
Tell us about your most recent book.
Maternal Instinct is set in a near-future world where parenting is a highly valued, paid profession. Every child is safe and no child lives in poverty. From the age of 6 months, children are raised by professional parents – the Maters and the Paters.
For some women this works really well. 19-year-old Monica, however, will do whatever it takes to stop her infant son being taken from her. When she turns to her biological mother, Alice, for help, Alice must face her own dark past and make impossible decisions.
It was great to learn more about you, your history and how your book came to be. Deeply interesting. Thank you for being a part of MTA, Rebecca. All the best to you! – Camilla
Australia 2040. No child lives in poverty and every child is safe. But at what cost?
19-year-old Monica never wanted a baby but the laws require her to give birth twice before she can move on with her life.
Now that her first son, Oscar, has arrived she’s not so sure she wants to hand him over to be raised by professional parents: the Maters and Paters.
When Monica turns to her birth mother, Alice, for help, she triggers a series of events that force Alice to confront her own dark past. Alice must decide – help her daughter break the law, or persuade her to accept her fate and do what’s best for the nation’s children?
Where to find the book:
Maternal Instinct is available for purchase at bookstores in the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Australia. Head to Story Addict Publishing for a list of retailers near you.