Today I have Sanjida Kay visiting the book review cafe, Sanjida is the author of Bone By Bone, as a parent whose son was bullied relentlessly for two years, I found this book very emotional to read, you can see my thoughts regarding this book further down the page.
Welcome to the book review cafe Sanjida and thank you for popping by to answer some questions about you and your book Bone By Bone
For those readers who haven’t heard of you or your book Bone By Bone can you provide us with an introduction?
Thank you so much for having me! I live in Bristol with my daughter and husband and Bone by Bone is my first thriller. It’s a about a woman called Laura, who’s recently divorced. She and her nine-year-old daughter, Autumn, have just moved to Bristol. Laura discovers that Autumn is being bullied at school by an older boy. She tries to talk to the teachers about it, but when no one takes her seriously, Laura confronts the bully herself. The situation escalates out of her control, with devastating consequences for her and her daughter …
Where did the idea For Bone By Bone come from?
Just after I had my own daughter, I used to take her out in the buggy to get her to go to sleep. I felt incredibly vulnerable – recovering from the birth, on my own and now responsible for a tiny, fragile newborn.
I started to imagine a character who has a much older daughter than mine, but feels vulnerable, isolated, lacking in confidence all the time. And I imagined what would happen if that person found out that her daughter was being bullied. She would want to protect her child with all her heart – like any parent – but she might not have the resources – particularly if there’s nothing the bully won’t do to her child.
What were some of the challenges about writing this novel?
Bone by Bone is told from Laura’s perspective, as well as from Autumn’s. From a writerly point of view, it was tough to get inside Autumn’s head, as it’s hard to remember what it was like to be nine, plus transporting that feeling to a different time – what it’s like to be nine in 2016 – and what it’s like to be Autumn in particular, who is quirky and sweet and not like I was as a child!
I was bullied as a child and as a teenager. I haven’t put my own experiences into the novel, but I used them to create the emotions Autumn and Laura go through. As you can imagine, this was a painful process and I used to cry when I read each draft.
Do you think children who are bullied are given the necessary support?
No I don’t! I don’t think children are taken seriously or listened to enough. Children often feel ashamed when they’re bullied and don’t tell adults or ask for help either. It’s up to us to know our children so well and be as involved in their lives as possible, that we can see if a child’s behaviour is changing. And as adults in today’s culture, most of us don’t fully understand social media enough to know if a child is being cyber-bullied or how to stop it. I’ve chosen to donate a percentage of any profits I make to anti-bullying charity, Kidscape. The main reason I chose Kidscape, as opposed to another charity, is because they offer support to parents and children online and via workshops, which I hope could make a real difference.
As a mother I felt every emotion Laura felt, If you were in a similar circumstances as Laura how would you react?
That’s a hard one! Obviously, if I found out my daughter was being bullied, I’d want to stop it straight away. I’d go and speak to her teachers at the school and maybe the police. I wouldn’t take no for an answer. Luckily, unlike Laura, I’m surrounded by friends, family and have a loving husband, so my daughter and I have a support network. I’d also try and bolster my daughter’s self-esteem, as bullies are less likely to pick on confident kids. And I’d take her to martial arts classes. If you’re in the situation that Laura finds herself, it can all seem overwhelming and hard to deal with, though.
Do you write an outline before you start writing?
I plan my novels before I start writing, and I spend a long time working on the characters. Plot is so important in thrillers, compared to, say, literary fiction, that for me, I find it’s worth thinking carefully about the plot before I begin.
When did you know that you wanted to become a writer? and how did you go about it?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was five years old! I read and wrote all the time, and had poetry published in an anthology when I was sixteen and a story published in Spare Rib when I was eighteen. I’d written two novels (still in my bottom drawer!) before I finished my undergraduate degree. I really believe that writing, like any craft, requires practise. By the time you’ve written a million words, you’re probably able to string a sentence together pretty well!
What is the hardest thing about being a writer?
The difference between what you actually achieve and what you want to achieve! Juggling writing with child-care is hard and I wish there were more hours in the day! But I think I’m immensely privileged to be a writer and to be published by Corvus Books.
Are you inspired by any particular authors?
My favourite authors are Emily Brontë, Margaret Atwood, Cormac McCarthy and Henry James. As for psychological thriller writers, I love Gillian Flynn and Peter Swanson, who combine a jaw-dropping plot with beautifully-written prose.
Are you able to tell me anything about your next book?
It’s called The Stolen Child and it’s set in Ilkley. As you might guess from the title, it’s about a little girl who goes missing. I spent a large chunk of my childhood living next to Ilkley moor, so I know it well; the moor is like another, deadly character in the novel.
During all the interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
Where does the title, Bone by Bone, come from?
And I would say, it’s a line from an Emily Dickinson poem called, ‘There is a pain so utter – ‘ Laura studied Emily Dickinson and so she knows that the poem is about almost unimaginable pain…It also sounds downright scary and that’s a good thing in a thriller!
Thank you Sanjida for popping by the book review cafe and taking the time to answer my questions, I will certainly be looking forward to reading your next book when it is published.
About the author
Sanjida Kay is a writer and broadcaster. Bone by Bone is her first thriller. She lives in Bristol with her daughter and husband.
To learn more about the author
Laura loves her daughter more than anything in the world.
But nine-year-old daughter Autumn is being bullied. Laura feels helpless.
When Autumn fails to return home from school one day, Laura goes looking for her. She finds a crowd of older children taunting her little girl.
In the heat of the moment, Laura makes a terrible choice. A choice that will have devastating consequences for her and her daughter..