Tell Us Your Backstory with Anna Clifton
I had a weird experience recently. It arose from the decision my husband and I made a few months ago to move into a postage-stamp sized unit in the city in a few years time. We’re both incredibly excited about becoming urban dwellers again, willing to sacrifice space for a central location. But we’re also daunted – the move will mean getting rid of most of our belongings. To start the psych-up process to downsizing I had a big clean out a few weeks ago. One of the things I unearthed was my entire collection of school reports.
Wondering why I’d kept them so long without even glancing at them I sat down to find out, looking back in time, ready to recognize and say gidday to the person who would become who I am now before consigning those records to the recycle bin.
There was just one problem. The person I found there wasn’t the person I was expecting to find. Somehow, over the years, I’d constructed a rock solid memory of myself as the ‘model student’, from kindy right through to year 12. But on looking at these reports I clearly wasn’t that person at all.
There were patches of conscientious swattiness, for sure, but there were also regular and very long runs of bobble-headed distraction when my marks would swing around like a demented yo-yo, and my teacher comments reflected this.
Who cares about school reports, I hear you ask, and I agree. But my next thought was, why the hell didn’t my parents say anything? Not once, in thirteen years of schooling, did they make a single negative comment about any school report I received.
Once I’d recovered from the discovery that I was far from the ideal student, it occurred to me that my parents were probably just being the extraordinarily wise and wonderful people they always were. It’s in this way that my parents are my backstory, as I suspect is the case for so many of us. We might go off and pursue our different paths in life but good parents (and sadly I think, bad ones too) will influence our lives all along the way.
In our young years my parents ensured their children’s safety and then sat back and let us find our feet, academically and every other way. My rose-coloured-glasses view of my school performance, it turns out, was nothing more than a reflection of their belief in me. Somehow they understood that childhood was a journey we needed to make ourselves, implicitly trusting in us to make lots of mistakes but then learn from them too.
It’s no real coincidence our family produced lawyers and teachers. Our inclinations were to go into occupations focusing on individual freedom and teaching children how to think for themselves. For me it was the law where I spent most of my adult life until a few years ago when I became a teacher of refugee women.
My other passion became writing contemporary romance fiction. Even in this my parents’ lovingly indulgent but supportive parenting is still present.
Every one of my five books, including my recent release, Copping It Sweet, is essentially about the preciousness of individual freedom. All of my characters, not just Cooper and Sara, have searched for the unconditional love that liberates us from unacceptably controlling situations, whether or not of our own making.
The dedications in my books may not always mention them but take it as read – every word I’ve written has been in loving and grateful honour of the backstory my parents created for me.
Copping It Sweet
To find out her secrets he’s willing to risk everything — including his heart.
Sara Sullivan has a landlord who wants to evict her, a 1960s Beetle that rarely starts, and a looming exam she’s all set to fail. But none of that compares to the return home of Detective Sergeant Cooper Halligan, her best friend’s brother and the single biggest threat to the secret she’s guarded for years…
Cooper Halligan is happy to be home. But he’s not happy to discover that Sara Sullivan is a permanent fixture within his family, especially when he’s the only one who knows about the sinister marriage lying hidden in her past.
Sara’s crime-boss husband is the prime suspect in the murder of an innocent street kid, and now Cooper’s prepared to do anything to find out what Sara knows.