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Behind the pages of One of the Family – how lockdown changed the narrative

Behind the pages of Ones of the Family

One of the family packshot


Ahead of the publication of her new novel, One of the Family, Sadie Pearse shared with us how going into lockdown meant a change to the story.


One of the Family is a story about love, and about finding hope in the most unexpected of places.

I wrote this novel in the time before we all went inside, and it’s being published as we start to emerge again. The dramatic moments of real life are what fuel my writing – the highs, the deep love, the losses, the secrets we hold, the days that change us. Experiencing these things, or witnessing them up close, is what brings characters and plot to life for me. But then there are the times when real-life events start to take over. That happened this year.

As I held the proofs for the book in my hands, I looked at the dates – Mother’s Day, 2020. Dino, the seven-year-old boy at the heart of the story, is going to leave Freya’s house and visit his mother, who he’s been separated from for a long time. It’s a big moment, one where the threads of the story come together and truths are revealed. But something no longer fit. Dino, like everyone else in One of the Family, can move where he likes, when he likes, hug whoever he feels close to. In our real lives, this particular Mother’s Day played out differently– many of us having to hold back from the people we love.

While part of me longed to keep this fictional 2020 out there, to imagine it running parallel to our own, ignoring lockdown completely didn’t seem right. You can play with real life when you write, it’s part of the fun, but this felt like a step too far. Readers would likely remember that day and those weeks and months, differently. So I got my blue biro out, dialled back the dates, and opted to have the story run at another time, where it could breathe, away from what we’re living through now.

Fiction can be the most powerful and nurturing escape, and I wanted this story to be able to do that. For this to be a novel readers could lose themselves in, racing from chapter to chapter, staying up into the night. The drama that plays out is deeply personal – sisters are lost to one another, then found – trust is broken, love is tangled and unknotted and recaptured. Life and writing mingle all the time, but I hope that by separating them out here, I’ve given this particular story space to soar.

I hope you enjoy reading One of the Family! And I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Sadie x


One of the Family is out next week. Pre-order your copy now now using the links below.