Café Cala welcomes Dawn Barker

Dawn Barker<

It’s great to have you visit Café Cala. I loved Fractured and Let Her Go. They were both to be books I couldn’t put down. On this cool morning I’ve been making a pumpkin pie. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?

Coffee, please! As a mum of three little girls I need all the energy I can get!

1 Where did you get the idea for Let Her Go?

I first thought about writing Let Her Go after watching a documentary about a woman with a medical illness who used a surrogate mother to have a child. In the show, her husband was very much in the background, and when the surrogate mother attended the child’s first birthday party, it was clear that she was still very much attached to the child she had carried. There was something in the body language of both women that made me wonder how they both really felt, behind their smiles.
I then heard more and more about the advances in fertility treatment, and read stories in magazines about people buying eggs and embryos overseas, then paying women to carry the children for them.
I personally felt conflicted: being a mother myself, I would never deny anyone the right to experience the joy of being a parent, but there are ethical issues to consider. I wanted to write Let Her Go to explore my own feelings about this complex issue.

2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?

While I love the satisfaction of drawing the threads of 100000 words together into a finished novel, the most rewarding thing for me is connecting with readers. I’m still incredibly flattered when people read my books and then contact me to discuss their reactions. I love knowing that my writing has made someone react emotionally, or made them think about an issue.

3 How did you start writing?

I’ve always loved writing, and wrote my first ‘book’ when I was about nine with my pen-pal: we’d send the ‘manuscript’ back and forward to each other as we wrote consecutive pages!
As a grown-up, I started writing when I was doing my specialist training in psychiatry: initially some non-ficiton articles for psychiatric magazines and websites, and then when I stopped work to have my first baby, I began blogging about my experiences of being a parent. At the same time, I began writing my first novel, Fractured, while my baby slept and it all grew from there.

4 What would you say has helped you most?

For me, the most important thing in my writing career so far has been winning a place on the 2010 Hachette/Queensland Writers Centre’s manuscript development programme. It gave me access to an agent, to publishers, booksellers and lots of industry knowledge, but most importantly, it gave me the confidence to call myself a writer.

5 What are you working on at the moment?

I’m all ready to start writing my third novel: I have my themes, I know who my main characters will be, and I have a rough idea of what the story will be. In the next few weeks, I hope to lock myself away and start writing it!

6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

I think you have to treat writing like a job if you want to do it seriously – you have to write even if you don’t feel inspired. It’s about practice, and persistence. And also, it’s important to finish your project, be it a short story, non-fiction article or novel. For many years, I said I wanted to write a novel, but I had to remind myself that half-writing a novel wasn’t enough – I had to finish it before I could begin sending it out into the world.

7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?

I enjoy so many different writers for different reasons! Some writers whose work I really like and admire are Lionel Shriver, Kate Grenville, Donna Tartt, Isabel Allende, Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Atwood… And locally, I’ve recently loved reading Hannah Richell and Liane Moriarty.

Let Her Go

How far would you go to have a family?
What would you hide for someone you love?
Confused and desperate, Zoe McAllister boards a ferry to Rottnest Island in the middle of winter holding a tiny baby close to her chest, terrified that her husband will find her or that her sister will call the police.
Years later, a teenage girl, Louise, is found on the island, unconscious and alone.?Flown out for urgent medical treatment, when she recovers she returns home and overhears her parents discussing her past and the choices that they’ve made. Their secrets, slowly revealed, will shatter more than one family and, for Louise, nothing will ever be the same again.
LET HER GO is a gripping, emotionally charged story of family, secrets and the complications of love. Part thriller, part mystery, it will stay with you long after you close the pages wondering… What would you have done?

You can connect with Dawn via her website, facebook at, or twitter @drdawnbarker.

You can buy Let Her Go here (

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