Today on my blog I have a guest post from Nia Lucas, author of Love Punked. Her post is all about who she is.
When her life is irrevocably altered by a post-Rave tryst on her mother’s floral patio recliner, Erin Roberts’ long-standing relationship with Humiliation takes her down a path that’s not so much ‘less well trodden’, more ‘perilous descent down sheer cliffs’.
Armed with a fierce devotion to her best friend and the unrequited love for the boy she might have accidentally married at age seven, when Erin falls pregnant at sixteen, life veers off at a most unexpected tangent.
Her journey to adulthood is far from ordinary as Erin learns that protecting the hearts of those most precious to you isn’t balm enough when your Love Punked heart is as sore as your freshly tattooed arse.
Whilst raising football prodigies and trying not to get stuck in lifts with Social Work clients who hate her, Erin discovers that sometimes you have to circumnavigate the globe to find the very thing that was there all along.
Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1717868096
Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/1717868096
I am a UK based author of Contemporary women’s fiction who is passionate about telling the stories of strong, sympathetic, entertaining and engaging female characters and the lives that they lead. My Welsh heritage and my life as a practising Social Worker with teenagers and their families heavily influences my work as does my love of all things 90’s and an adolescence spent immersed in clubbing culture.
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Nia’s Guest Post, which is all about who she is and what has turned her into the amazing person she is today.
Thank you Nia for taking the time to write this for my blog.
I think that one of the reasons why I get a squishy sort of discomfort on the few occasions when I have used the word ‘Author’ in reference to myself, is because I feel a bit fraudulent, I feel like I haven’t earned the title. I’m not qualified to wear that badge. I write because it’s just too tempting not to add a few splashes of my own colour into the richly hued world in which we exist. I’ve always loved to talk, to chat nonsense and what better pastime is there than to waffle away and have people silently pay attention to you. Proper Author’s have something truly new and insightful to add to the perspective of their reader. Me? I feel that all I do is paint new colours onto things that we have all experienced, put a new set of faces onto a common tale.
I’m a Social Worker. That is what I am. I have been for twenty odd years, it’s what defines me, it what gives me meaning. I work with teenagers who have often led the most difficult of lives, who have had experiences which would break most adults, who survive like the warriors that they are despite the nose-in-the-air attitude of people who have had the fortune to live easier lives. My reasons for entering the career were influenced by my own minor teenage tribulations and transgressions but were cemented by one particular experience.
At seventeen, I volunteered on a Charity Holiday Camp for children who faced social and economic hardships, many of whom had experienced abusive parenting. I was tending to the skinned-knee of a particularly ‘lively’ 7-year-old girl when I discovered that the ‘Fake Tattoos’ she had arrived on camp with, the ones that erratically littered her skin, actually concealed bruises. Hundreds of them. Somebody had not only hurt this little scrap of a human but they had also made her sit still while they purposefully concealed her injuries, threatening her not to tell anyone. She wet herself when the first tattoo came off onto the Dettol-soaked pad that I was wiping her leg with. In the twenty years that have followed, I have yet to see the equal of the fear in her eyes.
A kind, smiling social worker came to collect her at the end of camp and you could almost taste the relief radiating from the little girl when she was told that she was ‘going back’ to her ‘old foster carers’ instead of going home to the parent who had bruised and branded her.
“That blue line showing on that test, it changes everything, don’t it?”. This is perhaps one of the truest things I’ve ever been told by a teenager that I work with. Yes, yes it does. Tiny moments can be life-changing. The stories I write, the characters I create are mine entirely but they reflect experiences that so many of us have had. My teenagers’ lives are not for public consumption, I guard their experiences with every part of my professional persona. Access to their lives is a privilege, it is not material but their influence is there. It’s unavoidable. Their battles are mine, I fight on their side.
‘Love Punked’ was driven by my desire to add volume to stereotype challenge. Right now in the UK, teenage pregnancy rates are dropping to all-time lows because in all honesty, who has the time for illicit, teenage sex when you have to dedicate hours of your life fabricating a perfect life for social media? Yet, as the age of first-time mothers rises exponentially, the girls who see that blue line appear at a stage in their lives when most are mooning over Reality TV stars, they have an even tougher fight to battle. These girls, these amazing girls sit patiently through meetings where strangers in uniforms and wearing lanyards tell them what it is that they have to do in order for them to be deemed fit parents while the TV’s bombard us with images of Celebrity parents whose brazenly atrocious parenting is barely remarked upon. I have seen fifteen-year-old mums who would have SuperNanny weeping in paroxysms of joy. I have seen peri-menopausal, University educated, wealthy women who are Biblically awful parents. Yet who is more likely to have to sit through the meetings with the lanyards and the crappy vending machine tea?
Then there is the fact that Black and Mixed-Race boys are disproportionately represented in the prison system, disproportionately failed by the education system and overrepresented in the stats for gangs here in the UK. The truth is that no young person chooses to be in a gang. They don’t wake up one morning and think, “D’you know what, I want to limit the geography of my life to a small grid of streets and risk violence, arrest and lifelong economic disadvantage”. Nope. They are driven into gangs. Driven there by fear and the mistaken belief that gangs afford them protection or, in the case of ‘Love Punked’s Jamel, he was driven there by the loss of the things he held dear and a total lack of parental support or affection. Jamel was looking for somewhere to belong when he’d lost the thing he loved and trouble was waiting there with open arms.
Writing Jamel was both a joy and a challenge. I have met hundreds of Jamels in my life, wearing different faces, ethnicities and experiences. That goodness, that seeking a ‘good life’, it’s always there but what gets in the way is further losses, obstacles or crappy choices. Having stability, having something solid to rely upon and somebody to offer second (and third, and fourth, and fifth……..) chances, that is the key to making real change.
This is a more serious guest post than I intended and for that I apologise. ‘Love Punked’ will (I hope!) make you laugh. I want you to chuckle and snort and giggle at the little echoes you may see of people and places you may have known. I want you to love Jamel and Erin the way that I do, in the way that readers so far have but most importantly, I want you to sit back, for a couple of seconds and reflect on the fact that those characters who have made you laugh, cry and feel something for, well, those characters were a teenage Mum and a young offender.
Thank you x
*Steps down from soap box, trips and flashes her knickers. Slopes out shame-faced*
**This seriously made me chuckle, thank you for the humour Nia 😀 **