They often get as rough a ride from books as they do from the world, but some writers, from Jane Austen to Sue Townsend, have given lone parents authentic life beyond the cliches

Single mothers have a hard time of it, in life and in fiction. Frequently they’re portrayed as unhinged psychos, sex-crazed hoydens, self-sacrificing saints (often widowed), or ground-down sloggers. I can’t think of that many happy, successful, yet devoted SMs in books – but maybe that wouldn’t make a good story.

My second novel, Em & Me, centres on a single mother called Delphine, whose life was derailed as a teenager when she fell pregnant with her daughter Emily. I’ve long been preoccupied by the state of single motherhood, possibly since I had my own children and realised what back-breaking effort is required to raise them. The idea of doing it alone seems unimaginable, so I wanted to imagine it; to write a story that reflected the struggle but also allowed my protagonist to fulfil her ambition and potential.

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