Interview with Berlie Doherty

Karen: "Why did you write about teenage pregnancy?"
Berlie: "I don't think that's the way it went really, Karen. I think what happened was, I wanted to write a love story that took the subject of love very seriously. It kind of grew then, to come to that point where they find that Helen's going to have a baby. So it didn't start off with the idea of writing about teenage pregnancy, that's how it finished up.

Sarah: "Why was it written from Chris's point of view?"
Berlie: "I think it's because that idea of writing a love story was very strong, it was something I really wanted to do, but I didn't want it to be a normal piece of romance fiction, so I thought one way of making it less romantic was to take it from the boy's point of view. That then seemed a very powerful idea because I didn't know if anyone had ever done that before. It was a challenge for me to try and get into a boy's head because I'd written from a girl's point of view quite often."
Sophie: "You writing it from the boys point of view made me realise how awful I'd been to my boyfriend and how I'd shut him out and made all the decisions myself. I didn't think about how he were feeling. By the time I realised it were too late."
Katie: "I never used to think about how my boyfriend were feeling, I just didn't care. When I had my son it felt weird for me to have to share him, 'cause for nine months I'd kept him inside me and he'd been mine but I've got used to it now."

Katie: "Why was Helen's mum's character so negative?"
Berlie: "Well it's amazing you should ask that, Katie. I get lots and lots of letters about Dear Nobody and one of the question is always that one about Alice, Helen's mother. It was important for the story really that Helen didn't get the support of her mother, because if Helen had, if her mother had been very supportive, helpful and understanding, then Helen wouldn't have gone through that terrible isolation that she does go through which is important for the novel to work. There are women who are like Alice who would react in the same sort of way as she did and later on in the story you do find out why Alice is so negative about the whole experience because it brings back so much on her upbringing, her very negative memories of her own childhood."

Sarah: "Why did Helen leave Chris?"
Berlie: "I think the answer to that is in one of the letters that she writes. She feels that she's ready to commit herself to bringing up a baby to commit herself to that other life, but she feels she's not ready to commit herself to living with someone else, to a partnership with Chris because they don't know each other well enough yet, so that's what makes her think the only honest thing she can do then is to end the relationship."
Sarah: "I thought that she was being really unselfish when she said that she wanted him to go to university and to have his own life·And from what he says at the end when he says, 'I'm not ready for the baby, I'm not ready for Helen, I'm not even ready for me'. I think it shows that she did the right thing because if they had stayed together they could have split up through outside influences with the baby."
Joanne: "I think that she should have said to him, 'Look do you want to stay with me and bring up baby, or do you want to go and do your degree and see where we'll go from there when you've finished'.
Berlie: "That's her character isn't it? She makes decisions on her own and she made the decision to go, well her mother made it for her, to go and have an abortion, then she makes the decision to keep the child and all this is without consulting Chris. I think that's her personality, that's the way she is."

Joanne: "Why didn't they get back together in the end?"
Berlie: "Why didn't they get back together in the end? That would have been put a seal on the book like a happy ending. In a sense its so much a book about life and that there isn't such a thing as a happy ending is there? There's just what happens next. I suppose it links up with another question I'm often being asked in letters, is there going to be a sequel?
I actually feel that the real sequel to a novel is in the reader's head. You know if you read a book and then carry on thinking about if afterwards and the characters stay with you, you see them going in different kinds of ways then that's the most a writer can hope for and I think any sequel that the writer gives you can't match up to what you have in your own heads."