A Good Enough Mother who will do anything for her child

Annouska Beazley author of The Good Enough Mother

Annouska Beazley author of The Good Enough Mother - Credit: Archant

Anoushka Beazley found her vocation in writing a debut novel about a mother who steals to pay school fees

As a child I found it excruciatingly difficult to select a career. How was I meant to know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life? I envied those kids who seemed determined to practice law at the age of eight or become a ballerina.

I wished I too could be handed a vocation, but I appeared to be the saboteur of my own desire.

I could concern myself terribly with the migration patterns of rhinos in Borneo, convinced of my life as a zoologist one day, only to assure my parents of my calling as a forensic pathologist the next.

So many ideas interested me and I desperately felt I was capable of doing them all…for ten minutes.

My fleeting but obsessive fascinations did not possess the constancy to ensure career success or, more importantly, personal satisfaction in anything.

I would furiously scribble all of these musings, fears, choices down in my diary – would the words help me find my calling; surely the words themselves couldn’t be my calling, could they?

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At 13, I was selling clothes in Carnaby Street for a lecherous man content to gloss over the fact I should have been in school.

My work experience kick-started a long and angry descent into retail, numbed only by immersing myself in fictional worlds.

Literature and movies transported me to faraway places and, eventually, to a film degree. This led to a postgraduate diploma in acting after which I waitressed, worked in recruitment, slept on friend’s floors, dressed up as various giant fruits for advertising, all to call myself a jobbing actress.

Pregnant with my second child I decided to take a break from acting and completed a Masters in Creative Writing at City University.

It was one of the few courses, at the time, where you were required to produce a finished novel by the end.

Two evenings a week, part time for two years, I looked around the room at the other students furiously writing. I had neglected to furnish myself with a pen but helpfully brought a dummy and packet of teething granules.

I was lucky enough to get a wonderful agent and he and I worked hard for two years but it was not to be.

When my father passed away, it was a painful time. I was doing the school run from Cricklewood to Kentish Town driving past all his old haunts and feeling an overwhelming sense of loss fear and loneliness.

In desperation I sat down to write and out came The Good Enough Mother.

It’s a satirical, black comedy about a woman who can’t afford to pay her daughter’s school fees so she turns to crime.

Drea, is the original anti-heroine. One day she wakes up and finds her life quite unrecognisable. Her boyfriend has left her for another woman and she must now become mother to her step-daughter.

She’s not asked for any of this and yet here is her life, screaming at her.

She is completely and utterly unprepared for the emotional rollercoaster of parenting, the responsibility, the pressure, the loneliness, the PTA. Her drinking and drug use a paltry comfort as events start to spiral out of control.

Every decision she makes is driven by desperation, a fear of the past with unresolved baggage coming back to haunt her and a constantly mounting sense of being overwhelmed.

Embarking on a life of crime she’s doing the best she can with what she has. She is not your everyday mother but she is dealing with everyday problems.

Navigating unfamiliar territory one seemingly crazy choice leads to another until the walls start closing in. Her rational is entirely irrational and yet relatable to anybody who has ever found life a bit too tough right now.

It is dark and humorous about the human condition.

It poured out of me in such a raw manner I made the decision to self-publish. It was a steep learning curve but I was selected as the September read for international book club ‘Poppyloves’, their first ever self-published author, and The Good Enough Mother is available in Waterstones, Foyles, and Daunt Books.

After all that time spent looking for a career, it turns out sometimes the simplest choices are the right ones.