The Future Can’t Wait is a contemporary novel set in multicultural Birmingham against a background of growing radicalisation of young people sympathetic to Islamic State. Kendra Blackmore’s half Iranian daughter Ariana (Rani) undergoes an identity crisis which resullts in her cutting off all contact with her family. Sick with worry and desperate to understand why her home loving daughter would do this, Kendra becomes increasingly desperate for answers – and to bring her estranged daughter home….
THE FUTURE CAN’T WAIT – The book I had to write
I’m always impressed by authors who draw on their fecund imagination for their novels, particularly those who can conjure up spell-binding tales of fantasy and horror, transporting the reader away from the mundane if only for a few hours.
I’m more inclined towards weaving issues of real life into my fiction, spinning controversial themes in a way that makes the reader ponder and question. To think that they might want to debate them with me is a real driving force. It means the book has twanged a nerve. I am always open to answering courteously posed questions by email or on social media.
I wasn’t so much inspired as compelled to write my second novel, partly as way of coming to terms with a situation I’d had to face but also because many people can relate to some of the supporting issues in the book; empty nesting, helicopter parenting, anxiety driven behaviours (addiction) and empty relationships which trundle on because it’s the easiest option.
The thrust of the book is to show how even the most compliant of daughters (and sons no doubt) can trigger a conflict with the mother, indeed may need to, in order to break away. Normally this is a gradual process which is accepted by both sides, even though it brings a degree of upset to the mother who feels abandoned. In some cases though, it is a violent fracture caused by extreme measures.
My aim in writing The Future Can’t Wait was to show an example of this and Kendra’s reaction to it. I wanted to get readers, especially women, to ask themselves the questions; What would I have done? Was Kendra rational or reasonable in how she handled it? What could/should she have done?
It’s easy for us to be armchair critics peering into the lives of other people, shaking our heads in astonishment. The story of Rani and Kendra is a reflection of my own situation from 2011 – 2016 and yes, I did respond in a similar way. Crazy maybe but a drowning woman will cling to an octopus if there’s a chance of survival. So, the main theme was inspired by personal experience which I wanted to share.
Women and mothers are expected to behave in a certain way, according to the child-rearing experts and psychologists. If you’re not capable of giving unconditional love then you’re not a proper parent. Hmm. Show me where it says that in the secret manual.
Young adults keep secrets or as my daughters made clear from the age of fourteen, ‘It’s private.’ They’re not obliged to share anything with you. That’s worrying especially in these days on online grooming. Tech savvy, they know how to secrete their lives behind layers of passwords and whatever else they know how to do. I wanted to introduce an element of this into the book to show how easy it is to overreact to something we don’t understand. Rani is half Iranian like my own daughters. She belongs to the Persian society at the university. It’s not a quantum leap for Kendra to think she’s being brainwashed in some way. This fear is highlighted by references to the world news during 2015/16. I think this aspect of the book was influenced by the disappearance of some young women to join ISIS in Syria. Hard working, respectable students whose parents swore they knew nothing about it.
I remember my Mum thinking I was into something dark and devious when I suddenly announced I was going to Vancouver to live and that was pre-internet days. She was like a Dachshund going through my things, sure in the knowledge she would find something to back up her conspiracy. The truth came out many years later. She didn’t want me to leave home.
While the writing the book drew on many painful memories, it also gave me quality time to reflect. I was angry that my daughter did to me what Rani did to her mother but the big question will always be, Why? That remains unanswered.
It takes a long time to mend a fractured relationship and it requires a lot of soul-searching and a willingness to apologise in order to make peace. My daughter was the one to take small steps of reconciliation despite my refusal to soften my heart to her. Not after what she’s done was my mantra for a long time. Yeah. What sort of mother does that make me? I know.
She didn’t give up. Knowing how much I wanted a little dog, she announced one day that she’d bought one for the family and asked if I would look after him one week while she was away. My heart came out of the freezer.
Now we are on an adventure to create a new relationship all thanks to our newest family member, Raffi.
Angelena Boden (M.Soc.Sc PGDE) has spent thirty five years as an international training consultant, specialising in interpersonal skills and conflict resolution. She trained in Transactional Analysis, the psychology of communication and behaviour, her preferred tool for counselling and coaching.
Since retiring from training, she runs a coaching practice in Malvern for people who are going through transition periods in their life; divorce, empty nesting, redundancy or coping with difficult situations at work, home and within the wider family.
Angelena has two half Iranian daughters and has extensive experience of helping mixed nationality couples navigate problems in their marriages.
She is the author of The Cruelty of Lambs, a novel about psychological domestic abuse. Her new book, The Future Can’t Wait tackles the breakdown of a mother and daughter relationship within a cross cultural context. It is published by Urbane Publications and is out in November 2017.
Angelena Boden can be followed on the following social media sites.