Imagine my surprise when I popped into the New Rochelle library, and I saw in the express book section, a new book written by a former client and friend, Rhiannon Navin entitled “The Only Child” ! I contacted Rhiannon immediately as I wanted to interview her for my blog site (of course!), and to also learn about the process as I know firsthand how busy she is with her family and pets.
The story centers around a 6 year old boy, Zach, who survives a school shooting where 15 students and 4 adults are killed, and it is written from the young Boy, Zach’s perspective, and describes how he copes with the day to day emotions, and how his parents react to losing their older son who was one of the students murdered.
We met for lunch at Patrias where we dined on some some tapas and wine (always good -and a great restaurant), caught up on our gossip and then Rhiannon shared with me how the book took her a year to write, how that once she started writing, it just evolved, and flowed, and she found herself working into the wee hours each night trying to capture her thoughts whilst anew. Rhiannon has young children, and if she felt unsure of how to phrase a word or an emotion, she always had her children to help her out. They were her focus group. She also found it very important to obtain a writing coach. Rhiannon used to work in advertising, was always used to hard work , but she had children – how could she write and be a mom! Her coach who described herself as being ‘an unkind coach’ was the kindest coach Rhiannon could have hoped to have met, told her to dedicate time each day, and to write and write. She did just that, and found herself writing at night , during the day, and having the coach was a wonderful sounding board and critic. The perfect support system. Even though her coach was living in Dubai, it all worked out perfectly. Rhiannon researched agents, and was very fortunate to be signed by the very first agent she approached, and her book is published by Knopf. I guess that goes a long way to describe the book’s substance.
I had read the first two chapters prior to meeting Rhiannon, and I found myself tearing up – who wouldn’t when reading about such sensitive subject matter? To read how a teacher and children were hiding in a closet whilst hearing gun shots. Who would want any child to experience that. So, I had a sense of the story line , but I also wanted to read the book. I must confess, I was mopping away the tears as I finished reading the book at 5 am one morning.
It is written intelligently and well, and there is also a sub narrative taking place too where you catch a glimpse of what the parents are feeling, how they are reacting to the situation, and each other, coping and not coping and how it affects Zach. Would you blame the parents of the young man who committed the crime or do you come together as a community and help each other through this unimaginable horror? These are the topics touched upon in this book.
How did the story evolve? Rhiannon has twins, and after a lock down drill at school, she came into a room to find one of her twins under the dining room table, hiding from the ‘bad guys’. It made her wonder what emotions her children were going through having to learn the necessity in today’s world of a lock down drill. The book took format in her mind, and she felt compelled to write it through the eyes of a child. It seemed like the most natural approach.
The book was published just before the Parkland tragedy, and so she felt it only right to take a step back before conducting any tours or interviews. That is Rhiannon. The book has been well received by all, and it is now published around the world.
You can still meet Rhiannon as she tours with other authors and here is a link to those upcoming events.
Rhiannon is now working on her second novel, and I cant wait to read it!
New Rochelle is a great place in which to reside, and be creative!
New Rochelle is GREAT!