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Being a Parent Makes you Vulnerable: Author of The Lost Girls, Jennifer Spence on the Mother-Daughter Relationship

May 9, 2019

About The Author

Jennifer Spence has worked as an English teacher, a scriptwriter of soap operas and a technical writer. She is the author of three children’s books and a crime novel. She lives in Sydney.

Purchase a copy of The Lost Girls here

Read our full review of The Lost Girls here 

Words // Jennifer Spence

When writing fiction from a woman’s perspective, it’s hard to stay away from the deep emotional implications of the mother-child relationship. Starting with one’s own mother, there are as many variations on the mother-daughter relationship as there are people, but for most of us it’s a profound part of who we are.

When I started ‘The Lost Girls’, my main idea was to write about the experience of meeting your own self from an earlier time, and viewing your past life from a different perspective. Sixty-something Stella slips back twenty years in time and comes face-to-face with forty-something Stella. Getting on with each other is not as easy as you might think. The older Stella can virtually read the younger Stella’s mind, but that doesn’t always help.

But we are more than a single person. I soon realised that in this period, twenty years earlier, Stella’s mother would be still alive, and that of course the older Stella would need to visit her. For older women like me, the fantasy of seeing your own deceased mother one more time has a deep poignancy. Many of my friends who have lost their mothers share feelings of unfinished business, of things left unsaid, of a failure to fully grasp a relationship that might have faded into the background but is still central to our lives. For me, writing the scenes between Stella and her mother Anne was a powerful experience as I thought about what it would be like to see my own mother one last time.

But in ‘The Lost Girls’, there is more. Stella revisits her own children, at a younger and more impressionable age. She views them through the prism of their future lives, and at a tantalising distance because she can’t tell them who she is. She can try to advise them to make different choices in their lives, but if you change one thing in the future, the danger is that everything might change.

Many parents have shared an awful realisation, on the birth of their first child: “What have I done?” Being a parent makes you vulnerable; the joy comes with a great fear of seeing your child suffer. In ‘The Lost Girls’, Stella believes she has been given an opportunity to intervene and save her daughter; but any action she takes will come at an unforeseeable cost.


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