Rhiannon Navin’s Only Child confronts one of the most terrifying scenarios a parent can ever face, and is fast becoming one of the most talked about debut novels of 2018. Here, Rhiannon shares how she came to write the book.
My debut novel, Only Child is a story that poured directly from my heart. I am a writer, yes, but first and foremost I am a mother of three young children. I worry about them -- about their health, their safety, their happiness -- and that, of course, puts me in the same boat as every other parent in the world.
One of my biggest fears is that my children might be hurt in a school shooting and that there would be nothing that I, as their mother, can do to protect them. I want to tell you about a very personal experience that ultimately gave rise to the book you hold in your hands now. Shortly after my five-year-old twins Frankie and Garrett started school, they participated in their first lockdown drill. Lockdown drills are common here in the U.S.; children and teachers have to practice what to do if a gunman enters the school. That same afternoon, I found my little Garrett hiding from the “bad guy” underneath our dining room table, petrified.
That crushed me and I am heartbroken that our children are growing up in a world where they have to learn how to hide from “bad guys."
The shooting at the Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut, almost five years ago left me reeling and every single time I walk up to my children’s school, a quick “What if” crosses my mind: what if a shooter tried to get in through the front door? Why is the back gate open, what if an intruder got in through there? As parents, we already have a long list of worries and fears for our children that keep us up at night. We shouldn’t have to add “my child could be gunned down at school” to that list.
I want to help bring about change and I want to contribute to the conversation about gun safety in a meaningful way. I am part of the Indivisible movement here in the U.S. and we are collaborating closely with Moms Demand Action, a nonpartisan grassroots network of mothers that works tirelessly to prevent gun violence and to make America a safer place for our children. Volunteering my time and energy this way gives me an opportunity to channel my fear and outrage over this threat my children are facing into something productive, something that can make a difference and prevent such tragic loss from happening to more families.
I wrote Only Child out of fear and worry -- but also with great hope for a safer future for our children. Because although on the face of it, Only Child is a story of devastating loss and heartbreak, it is also -- and most importantly -- a story of love and compassion, forgiveness, and healing.
And that's a story we all need to tell right now.
Only Child by Rhiannon Navin publishes in hardback and ebook on the 8th March. Watch the trailer below now.