Kelly Rimmer is the author of the new novel Truths I Never Told You. Her other novels include The Things We Cannot Say. She lives in Australia.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Truths I Never Told You, and for your characters Beth, Grace, and Maryanne?
A: I’m the kind of writer who usually has a big collection of potential concepts for future books on the backburner, and in this case, I was quite fascinated by a collection of ideas and I couldn’t decide which to write about.
I wanted to research and understand postpartum depression, to write about a complex family dynamic, and to explore societal expectations of women across the generations.
When the Walsh family emerged in my mind, particularly Grace, Beth and Maryanne, I realized their story was actually about all of these issues and I knew I had to write it.
Q: The novel takes place in the late 1950s and in 1996. Why did you choose those time periods?
A: I chose each time period deliberately – the late 1950s fascinated me because I wanted to research and understand what life was like for women before contraception was widely available. The advent of the contraceptive pill changed so much for our society – and yet it’s a technology we rarely recognize as world-changing.
And Beth’s story, set in 1996, takes place just a few years after postpartum depression was recognized as a distinct disorder for the first time. I wanted to explore different outcomes are for women across the generations, as our understanding of the condition has evolved.
Q: Why did you decide to focus on postpartum depression in this novel?
A: A few years ago I heard the statistic that as many as one in five women will suffer from postpartum depression after the birth of a child, and I was frankly stunned that there is still stigma and shame around a medical condition that is so common and debilitating.
I love to research, and I wanted to delve in and understand how and why this condition has existed in the shadows for so long.
Q: You've set the book in Washington state--how did you choose the setting, and how important is setting to you in your work?
A: For the most part, my stories are about people and relationships, not necessarily settings – however, in this case, I chose Washington because the state has a fascinating history with an issue which becomes critical to this story. There was a unique referendum that passed in Washington in the early 1970s, and that particular referendum relates to some of the latter parts of this book (and I’ll leave it at that so I don’t give away any spoilers!).
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m currently writing another historical fiction novel, which takes places during and immediately after the occupation of Warsaw during World War II.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Thanks so much for having me stop by your blog, Deborah!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb