From a conversation with Amy Bourret about her new novel, Mothers and Other Liars:
A question authors seem to be asked the most is what parts of their work are autobiographical. And your answer is?--Marshal Zeringue
That is easy. No, I have never found an abandoned baby, never given up a child for adoption. Probably the strongest link is Ruby’s Midwestern sensibility and sentimentality. My grandparents, to whom this novel is dedicated, were proud Iowans. And I have very fond memories of time spent with them, working in the garden, “helping” my grandfather refinish furniture, and partaking in family races to see who could eat the most corn on the cob. The tool chest made from wooden Velveeta boxes is real; it sits on my own workbench now. My grandfather died while I was in law school. A decade later, I received the honor and profound gift to be able to move into their home to be with my grandmother during her last months.
What was your inspiration for this book?
This sounds kind of wacky, but I was on a walk when a “what if” popped into my head: What if you built your whole life on a certain assumption and then years later discover that the assumption was wrong? I am intrigued with exploring the personal past and discovering how it informs the present—the road not taken and all.
You have a background in child advocacy. Is the novel based on an experience you had in the field or a case you may have worked on?
Not any specific case, really. It’s more just the general experience. A child builds her own life from the foundation of her family environment life. If that environment is abuse or neglect or incest, when...[read on]