With the horrific screech of tyres, Hannah Scott's world as she knew it is brought to a devastating end.
One year after the accident, Hannah is still discouraging all attempts by family and friends to help her resume her normal life. But when her path crosses with Olivia Bell and her daughter Maddie who is finally on the way to recovery after a serious illness, Hannah develops a surprisingly close friendship with Olivia in a short time.
The Bells, however, have problems of their own. Many times on the verge of leaving her wealthy but abusive husband, Olivia now finds herself bound to him as never before in the wake of Maddie's illness.
Meanwhile Maddie, tired of the limits her poor health puts upon her and fearful of her father's increasing rage, regularly escapes into the one place where she can be anyone she wants: the internet. But when she is finally healthy enough to live her life in the way she's longed to do, the real world proves to be just as complicated as the isolated bubble she had been so eager to escape.
A masterful narrative, shaped by finely drawn characters whose fragile bonds are on a collision course with the truth, Safe with Me is a triumph.
Amy Hatvany was born in Seattle, the youngest of three children. She graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in sociology only to discover most sociologists are unemployed. Soon followed a variety of jobs - some of which she loved, like decorating wedding cakes; others which she merely tolerated, like receptionist.
In 1998, Amy finally decided to sell her car, quit her job, and take a chance on her passion: writing books. She is the author of Best Kept Secret, Outside the Lines, The Language of Sisters and, most recently, Heart Like Mine.
Safe With Me
Allen and Unwin
Author: Amy Hatvany
Question: What inspired the story of Safe With Me?
Amy Hatvany: It actually came from an article I read over a decade ago, about a woman in New York city who was having her home remodelled. She became friendly with one of the workers and as the two of them got to know each other, she shared the fact that her husband was recovering from a kidney transplant. When the worker told her that he had actually donated one of his own kidneys to a stranger the previous year, they compared surgery dates and doctors names and it turned out that the worker was the person who saved the woman's husband's life. I still get chills thinking about the two of them coincidentally crossing paths. The story idea grew from there.
Question: What was the best thing about creating the character of Hannah Scott?
Amy Hatvany: I would have to say watching the process of how she evolved from an emotionally guarded individual to a woman who took a chance and opened her heart to other women in need of a friend. Even in her grief over losing her daughter, she was able to be courageous and be strong for Olivia and Maddie, despite not feeling very strong on her own.
Question: How much of your inspiration comes from real life and real people?
Amy Hatvany: Inspiration is kind of a tricky thing for me. Most often, I'm struck by the idea of a character struggling with a particular challenging set of life circumstances, and I'm able to flesh out the rest of the story and other characters from there. Sometimes I have dreams about the characters; other times, I'll read something that kick-starts the process. I never really know what will bring about the next idea, and I like it that way. It's always a surprise.
Question: There are several issues raised in this book. Was this deliberate or did the story evolve this way?
Amy Hatvany: I'd say it was mostly deliberate. My educational background in sociology draws me to confront complex issues. I'm fascinated with how society as a whole–its expectations regarding our behavior–defines so much of us as individuals. Our belief systems, especially. I'm interested in challenging those systems by delving into an individual character's experiences and hopefully, encouraging the reader to re-examine their own views on a topic. David Foster Wallace said, 'Good fiction's job is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable." That pretty much sums up why I write about the subjects I do.
Question: Can you tell us anything about your next novel?
Amy Hatvany: I'm currently working on revisions for my 2015 release, and can tell you that part of the storyline explores the emotional fallout of what happens when a character is accused of a crime she didn't commit. I'm also making notes and doing research for the book I want to write after that. Since I never really know where I might find inspiration next, I do sometimes worry that another idea won't come along, but so far, I've been lucky. One always does.
Interview by Brooke Hunter