Shropshire Star

Telford author pens new novel inspired by his own story

A social worker with a passion for writing has been busy during lockdown penning a new novel.

Steve Brotherton with his new book

Steve Brotherton, of Telford, has previously written a trilogy of novels about second chances, fractured relationships and real emotions.

He has now taken the characters, Freddie and Jo-Jo, and written a new book called Fractures, Dreams and Second Chances.

The 59-year-old said: “This is my story of first love, but it is told through the eyes of two fictional characters, Freddie and Jo-Jo.

"My life, like Freddie’s, was fractured by my dad’s death when I was seven years of age.

“As a teenager, at the end of the 1970s, I had a first love relationship that I dreamed would last a lifetime.

“My partner, like Jo-Jo, was strong, independent and had her perfect world dreams, but she was haunted by her own fractures.

“In 1980 a heart breaking event killed our love and, for us, there has been no reunion.

Steve Brotherton with his new book

“But I’ve always wondered, what if? This book explores that possibility.”

The book tells the story of Freddie and Jo-Jo’s fractures, their teenage romance, their lives apart and their attempt to reignite their love after being separated for over three decades.

Their story is a love story, but it also asks questions about the impact of early life trauma, the degree to which this travels with us down the years and the impact it can have on our relationship with others and the wider world.

Steve added: “One of my main motivations for writing the book was to deal with my own experience of childhood trauma – in my case, the death of my dad.

“Writing my story was a cathartic process, all be it 50 years after the event.

“Things are very different now compared to 1970 and we’re all a bit more aware of how best to respond to these situations.”

He said the book had received good feedback so far and readers had found it relatable.

Steve added: “I was born in Walsall so the early part is set there.

“I’ve lived in Shropshire for over 20 years now and there are a lot of Shropshire references in there too.

“Ironbridge and Shrewsbury are both mentioned.”

The novel is available in paperback for £9.99 through all the usual retailers, including Amazon.

It is also available on Kindle.

Steve will be signing copies of his book at Shrewsbury Library on November 20, from 10am to noon, and they will be available on the day for half price.

He previously worked as head of commissioning for Wolverhampton Council, managed a care home for Shropshire Council and was a senior manager in adult social care for Worcestershire County Council.

Steve Brotherton has also shared some tips for how best to help a child with the death of a parent:

1. Listen and hear – Let the child have a voice, an opportunity to tell their stories and explain how they are feeling. Try to create a safe environment for them to show their emotions. Telling their stories and talking about their emotions is a critical part of their healing process. Make talking about the death an acceptable thing to do.

2. Explain, but be honest – Avoid phrases like ‘gone to sleep’ or ‘gone to Jesus’. Encourage questions and use what is already known to open up the conversation – ‘You know your dad has been poorly for a while..’ Think carefully about how you involve them in the funeral arrangements. Explain and talk to them about what they want to do.

3. Observe for out of character behaviour - psychosomatic illness, seeking solitude, increased anger or emotional outbursts. These can all be signs that the child is struggling and needs increased help and support.

4. Talk about the parent who has died – help them to make a memory box, use photos, make remembrance activities. Be careful not to sanctify the deceased – that can make them unreal and a hard act to follow.

5. Offer reassurance – Am I to blame? Will I get sick? Will I die? The child may be thinking that the death is their fault or worrying about their own mortality, and, perhaps, worrying that the second parent will die and leave them alone. They will need lots of reassurance, and lots of hugs.

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