I write under a pen name and only a very small circle (immediate family and one close friend) know that my younger son has schizophrenia. And so when asked what inspired me to write Salvation Jane, it would be easy for me to discuss my concern for people in low paid jobs and those dependent on government benefits that are forced to shelter in cars and tents without revealing that for many years my younger son has lived on the streets. In fact
Lot, the stereotypical
crazy homeless guy whose death in custody triggers Jane Patterson’s political
crusade is based on my son.
Where to start? Thinking back Chris was an active normal kid who enjoyed BMX, rugby and motor bikes. Around fourteen he changed into an angry hostile teenager. I blamed my marriage break-up. When I discovered he was using drugs, I blamed them. Misguidedly I tried to stave off disaster by giving him money instead of getting help. I've since discovered I was not alone. Hundreds of parents are pressurized into supporting their adult child's drug abuse, because what sort of mother turns her back on her own child?
That’s why I give really vague or evasive answers or try to change the subject when asked about my son. I don’t want to have to say that he’s spending yet another winter sleeping rough. You see I think most people would condemn me. When you don’t have the problem yourself it’s hard to imagine what it’s like for parents who do. For that reason I constructed Lucy Hall. She represents parents of drug- addicted psychotic adults trapped in the insanity of co-dependence. In this extract from Salvation Jane, the attractive businesswoman, the last person you’d expect to have a homeless son, tells Jane Patterson why she sold her home in
Melbourne and moved to . Perth
“You’ve no idea what it was like living with him. He wouldn’t wash himself, Jane. He just lay in bed all day in the same dirty clothes smoking and watching TV. He wouldn’t talk. When I tried to reason with him he’d get angry. It got to the point where he’d hit me if I didn’t give him money to buy drugs. I didn’t know what to do. In the end I sold up everything, and came over here. You probably think I’m a bad mother for running away, but you see it was my only chance of leading anything like a normal life.”
There are options which don’t involve either running away or financing addictive behaviour. The process of genuinely helping an adult child is difficult at best and in my son’s case impossible. The trouble is an adult child is still an adult and will make his own choices. I tried and I failed. The boy I knew has gone—the person he has become is a stranger to me.
Now 45 my son has full-blown schizophrenia. He rarely interacts with his family. His journey through life is rough and difficult but like the character in my book he is sustained by his spirituality. He has a heroic sense of destiny that enables him to withstand the adversity that surrounds him. I don’t understand but I can see that creating a relationship with a divine entity has provided succour and solace for someone in a very powerless and vulnerable situation.
As for me, it isn’t easy to “fess up.” I’m one of those people who has a need to save face but now that I’ve written a book about lost boys like Chris, perhaps it’s time to “out” myself. I hope my example might encourage those in similar situations to open up and talk about their feelings.
Hold your breath as a kick-butt heroine goes from on scrap to another.
is broke. The homeless are the target of a savage crackdown. Jails are crammed and the last shelter has been condemned. Who will make a stand? Meet Jane Patterson, a nobody. She didn't even finish school and has only worked at deadend jobs. Her campaign to win office is met with scorn. So how does she end up holding the balance of power?
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There's a saying when one door closes a window opens-- it was like that for Ann. When the newspaper where she'd worked for ten years went into receivership, she turned her back on the city, and headed off to the outback as a governess. It sounds like the start of a romantic novel, doesn't it? Sorry! Unlike a Victorian heroine, Ann didn't find romance, but she did discover the setting for her debut novel.
Minilya the sheep and cattle station where she tutored three young girls was close to the Carnarvon Tracking Station built by NASA in 1963 for the Gemini Program. Wheels turned. Curling up on the couch she began telling her pupils a story about the International Space Station breaking up and the debris falling on the station.It was thus that a career was born. Several manuscripts and rejections later, her first book, The White Amah was published by Sid Harta in 2010.
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MORE BOOKS BY ANN MASSEY
THE BIOCIDE CONSPIRACY
When the International Space Station is sabotaged, the threat that a biological agent will be used on the civilian population is more likely than at any other point in history. Lost in the Great Sandy Desert in Western Australia, two teens stumble upon the wreckage of a germ warfare laboratory, and a secret so damaging to world governments it must be hushed up ... at all costs.
THE WHITE AMAH
The chart-busting rock star, the timber baron's concubine and the young housemaid lead very different lives, until a vicious murder connects them. From the nightlife of Singapore to the rain-drenched jungles of Borneo, to the world of a rich and ambitious rock star, The White Amah is the story of a dark secret, and the consequences when a woman's past comes back to threaten the present.