Susi Fox interview: On Writing Mine and wives and husbands through the toughest time as parents

Author interview Susi Fox

My review for Mine is right over here — which is the story of a young mother at the worst time in her life, when it should be the best: Sasha wakes up after having her baby and finds herself in the wrong hospital, surrounded by people she didn’t know, and her husband nowhere to be seen. 

And then she discovers she hasn’t had the daughter she thought she would, but a son. And he’s not hers.

It’s an emotional read, but more than that, Susi Fox plays with who you think is responsible for what happens to Sasha — not to mention, questioning if something is wrong with Sasha. And the ending is something that speaks to what it is to be a mother — it’s very dramatic, I know, but it’s the only way I know how to phrase it!

Read on to learn more about Sasha, babies and writing from Susi Fox.

What inspired this story?

I had a nightmare one night that I was holding a baby in my arms and showing it to a group of faceless people gathered around me. I said to each member of the group, ‘This is not my baby,’ but each of them refused to believe me and they all stepped away. I awoke with my heart pounding. The haunting quality of my dream lingered for weeks; I knew I had to write this nightmare in some way.

Did you have any reservations writing this story? Things you worried about conveying in the right way?

I was cautious about the portrayal of women with mental health challenges. And yet I hoped that by exploring the complexities of women’s experiences, female readers, no matter their personal histories, would feel less alone.

You play with perceptions well in this with the flashbacks to how Mark and Sasha began, and it made me feel a little like I didn’t know what was real and what was not – what was the most important thing to get right when playing with readers’ perceptions.

By portraying two differing perspectives of the same situation or event, a rift in a relationship is necessarily depicted, as two people will never see things in the same way. I played with very small differences in perception around key relationship events to heighten the tension in their marriage and to raise the reader’s suspicions about Mark’s part in a potential baby swap.

The husband-and-wife relationship in this book is strained, but it’s also clear that Sasha loves Mark – tell me more about the importance of this relationship during this time in the book?

Mark tries very hard as a husband and father. Like many new fathers, he sometimes struggles to know best how to support his wife. When he fails to believe Sasha at such a pivotal time in their relationship, Sasha naturally feels abandoned by the one person who is supposed to believe in her, on whom she expects to be able to depend. His failure to support her at her greatest time of need will have lasting implications on their relationship.

Susi, you are taking on such a big fear of women in this story – of not being believed, of keeping their babies safe after their birth. Granted this is a thriller, and everything is heightened, but given your medical experience, what would you like women to know about both these situations?

I would like to reassure women that baby mix-ups are uncommon but not scarce – about 1 in 1000 babies, if you believe Wikipedia. I always encourage people who feel they aren’t being heard to get a second opinion, ask further questions or have a friend or relative ask questions for them, or engage a patient advocate. Hospitals can be frightening places and it’s important that patients feel their concerns are being listened to and addressed.

What do you think of Mine? Of how Susi Fox explored this story?

MINE by Susi Fox is published by Penguin Random House Australia and is available now, RRP $32.99, buy it here

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