Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Control Freak: a story about leaving care

Control Freak is BAAF’s first novel aimed at teenagers. Told in diary form it follows Holly Richards over one summer as she juggles the challenges of leaving care with the trials and tribulations of teenage life and family trauma. Author Henrietta Bond reveals the story behind the book.

I first saw Holly at a bus stop. Just for an instant - as I was driving past in my car. She’d been in my head for several months but she hadn’t taken a shape of any sort. But there she was a confident, attractive looking young girl with longish hair and wearing the plaid shirts that were very popular at the time, together with denim shorts and black wool tights. I seem to recall she was on her mobile – looking extremely purposeful.

I’ve wanted to write about young people leaving care for a very long time. As a media trainer I’ve spent many years helping young people to make their voices heard, and as part of that I’ve heard all sorts of experiences, good, bad - and often somewhere in between.

Through the years I’ve also interviewed many foster carers for various articles and books I’ve written (several for BAAF) and I’m always amazed by the stories they tell about the difficulties faced by young people in their care – and the patience and commitment they put into helping young people to succeed. And how they hang on in there, through thick and thin, enabling these young people to find a sense of belief in their future. Allowing space for them to make mistakes but keep going – in the way that most ‘regular’ families would.

My aim was to capture something of the complexity of those stories. Something that would both challenge stereotypes of being in foster care but also reassure young people who are care-experienced that they are not alone. I wanted to write something that would help them understand that they don’t have to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, that it’s OK to admit mistakes and change your mind – that it’s an intrinsic part of developing and becoming a young adult.

Like many authors I get passionately involved with my characters and notice myself becoming a bit of a ‘control freak’ about this book and BAAF – like the good foster carer - has guided me through the process, nurturing my freedom to write, and putting boundaries round me when I overstep the mark.

Most of all, writing Control Freak has been a great deal of fun. It’s one of the most pleasurable experiences I’ve ever known (which doesn’t contain calories). I can’t wait to share that experience with a wider readership – and will be fascinated to know what BAAF readers, and the young people they care for, make of this story.’

To find out more about Control Freak, and to order a copy, visit our website. And if you have read it let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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