June 5, 2009

This is for Alan who was kind enough to ask

Filed under: Backstory — jenny @ 2:49 pm

Arugula’s Mother is about a child who kills.

I was pursuing my doctorate in clinical psychology and at the same time working at a rural community mental health center. One day, I got a call from a mother whose child had gotten violent with a pet. Can’t say much more than that, but this was an overwhelming case for me. I really wanted to help this child. There were many barriers to doing so.

When I spied the book at the gym and had a few minutes before I could get a good look at it–because I was stuck on that damn pretend set of stairs–the character that leapt into my mind was a little girl who believed she was dark and bitter, a tough pill to swallow. “Like arugula,” she said in my head…Just the kind of precocious, sophisticated comment that made her endearing as well as, well, terrifying.

As the story unwound further, her mother appeared to me as well, a well meaning but completely unequipped parent, with dark shadows of her own.

These were the two people who filled out the title I conjured up that day at the gym.

I should probably explain why I was studying psychology at the graduate level when clearly a novel was bubbling away like lava. But that will be tomorrow’s post.

Till then…That was funny, Alan. Lettuce. Took me a second. (Not till now or anything :)


  1. I’d definitely like to read that one of yours!!


    Comment by Judy — June 5, 2009 @ 4:47 pm

  2. Thank you, Jenny!

    And me too, that sounds like a good, creepy book. I like stories with killer kids, like The Omen or The Bad Seed.

    Comment by Alan Orloff — June 5, 2009 @ 5:47 pm

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