A Letter from Ali Land, Author of Good Me, Bad Me
In 2002, I was about to graduate in Mental Health. At fifteen, I read Lord of the Flies and found myself asking the questions: what would I or any of my classmates do if we were marooned on an island? What would I be capable of? What would you? I couldn’t stop thinking about how children survive extraordinary circumstances.
As a child and adolescent mental health nurse, I spent many hours sitting on the floor listening to children, their worries, their concerns. It was a privilege, it was also sad. One day a teenage girl asked me: What if I turn out like my mum? What if I end up doing something bad? Her fears were real, the unknown inner influence of genetics. I witnessed first-hand young people taking on behaviours of parents who’d been absent from their lives for years. I wanted to know more, I wanted to understand.
Good Me, Bad Me was born out of all of the above but mainly because I believe today, as fiercely as I did as a twenty-one year old graduate, that we need to be talking about this. About how hard it is for children born into violent, neglectful homes to be good, how hard it is when a child is born with a genetic imprint that forces them towards maladaptive coping strategies. And in some cases, murder. I wrote this novel because I care about these kinds of children and I want to create discussion around this topic, hopefully compassionate in its nature. Milly, for me, represents these children. She’s trying her best to navigate a new world where she has the opportunity to become somebody different. She’s frightened and does the best she can and even if her best is so far from good enough, it’s all she has. It’s all she’s been shown.
And to those of you still sitting on the floor with these kids, still listening. You’re the true rock-stars.
Good Me, Bad Me is released on January 12th and is available to pre-order now.