Never Knowing was inspired by a conversation I had with my editor about what it would feel like if you were adopted, to find out that your birth father was an infamous serial killer who had never been caught. I’d heard about a horrific crime in Wells Gray Park that occurred years ago and was still haunted by the image of this lonely provincial park and the brutal murder. I started thinking about all the remote parks across BC and the terrible things that could happen in them. I wanted to show that even in this day and age of cell phones and advance technology there are still areas in the world where if someone is savvy, they can elude the police for a long time. The story grew from there.
To understand Sara, the main character in Never Knowing, I spent a lot of time reading about what issues someone who’s been adopted might face, especially if they have siblings who were born naturally to their adoptive parents. I also studied the emotions of birth parents who may not want to be found, some for very good reason.
At first I didn’t intend to structure the book in therapy sessions, like I had with Still Missing, but once I started writing, I realized that I needed to take Sara’s story to a deeper level and really delve into her emotions, her struggle to find out where she comes from, and where she belongs. The best way to do that was through sessions.
I also wanted to explore the question of nature versus nurture. Are we simply a product of our environment? How much do genetics play a part? It’s proven that anxiety can be inherited. What about violence? In Sara’s case, she’s terrified, once she learns her origins, wondering whether her temper, and her daughter’s outbursts, are a sign of a darker nature.
Nadine, the psychiatrist in both books, never speaks, and I wanted to show a new character responding differently to the therapeutic relationship, which was another way for me to explore more about Nadine. In this novel she’s more involved in the actual story and in my third novel Always Watching, we finally hear from her.