Writing about dads and their relationships with their children is a big deal for me. Most of the time I resist the urge to kill off dads and mums to allow my characters outrageous freedoms. That’s because I want to want to write about dads.
For instance, in my book Foul Play, Danny and his dad read crime books together, meaning Danny learns to be a detective. And, in the second chapter of Football Academy: Boys United, Jake and his dad visit the library to read about players who were told they were too small to play football, but still did well.
It goes on.
I’d say 30 of my 40 books have strong dad-child story lines. And there’s a good reason for that. I had three dads. What dads are and aren’t and should be and could be bothers me.
I was adopted when I was eight months old. My birth dad was a seventeen-year-old. I’ve never met him.
My adoptive dad left my adoptive mum when I was five. I see him still. But not as much as I should, perhaps.
My step-dad – the dad who brought me up from the age of eight – died when I was twenty-one. Very sad. Very grim. But he was the one who helped get me into reading. The one whose books I inherited, then devoured in my twenties.
I didn’t really think about the three-dad thing consciously when I was young. It didn’t bother me. But, when I became a dad, it did bother me. Big time.
But that conversation is for another day. (With the acknowledgement that my story is in no way unique and that – in most ways – I had it good.)
Just to say that I think I learned things about fatherhood via all three of my dads. Some good. Some bad. I like to think I am most like dad three. But you’d have to ask my daughter about that.
Dads and books seem to be a theme for me, as well as just dads. So, for Fathers’ Day 2017, I recommend dads read with their kids. If they can.
My favourites books to read with my daughter were Don’t Let Go by Jeanne Willis (picture book) and Danny Champion of the World by Roald Dahl (chapter book). Both magnificent stories for dads and kids of dads to enjoy together.
Happy Fathers’ Day.