The Story Behind FIONA

FIONA comes out today, and as excited as I am about that, I’m also terribly nervous. I don’t know if I can fully express how much this book means to me, or how much of myself I poured into it while I was writing it.

A few months before I got my book deal for I AM HER REVENGE, I moved home to Houston because my mother had been diagnosed with cancer. For the last year of her life, I helped take care of her. And I wrote this book.

Fiona’s mother commits suicide when she’s twelve. Her father abandoned the family when she was a baby, and so Fee is sent to a dusty West Texas town to live with an aunt who doesn’t want her. When she gets an email from her mother’s best friend, inviting her to come work as an au pair at her castle in the Scottish Highlands, Fee jumps at the chance. She wants to find her place in the world, and to find her family.

Despite everything that Fee has been through, she still keeps her heart open. She knows that family is not always simply blood relations: good friends, people who love you and want the best for you, can be family, too. And so when she meets her charge, Poppy, and Poppy’s older brother, Charlie, she has room for them in her life.

As indescribably painful as it was losing my mother, that last year I had with her made me realize that family is the most important thing in the world to me. And so I wrote about a girl who finds her family in the most unexpected of ways. And as I was writing about her, I realized that I was trying to tell myself not to close myself off. It would have been so easy to shut everyone out after my mother’s death, but I didn’t want that for myself. I wanted to be like Fee: bright and optimistic and open. I’ve done my best to be like this beautifully strong girl I created.

Fiona loses her mother when she’s twelve. I got my mother until I was twenty-eight, and I’m very grateful for that. She didn’t get to see my books on a shelf in a bookstore, but she did know that I had a book deal. And I hope she’d be proud of this book.


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