The question I’m asked most often from readers is this: Is Family Ties based on personal experience?
I’m not Sara. My parents aren’t Simon and Tibby. The Jerichos and Jason are completely made up.
“But it feels so real.”
Have you heard the saying, write what you know? Robin Cook was a doctor. He knows medicine and writes medical thrillers.
I worked in the mental health field for twelve and a half years. I spent ten and a half years working with boys, mostly teenagers, but some as young as three. Most of them were physically/sexually/emotionally abused/neglected by one or more family members. I did direct care work at first. I was with them from after school until bedtime and on weekends. I knew their histories and their pain, was forced to physically restrain them when they were in danger of hurting themselves or others, and sat with them as they cried and cried about how unfair life was.
I started the first draft of Family Ties while doing direct care work, because I needed somewhere to put their stories and the stress of carrying them with me.
While my roles and worked evolved through the years, one fact remained: I worked with many of the boys from the time they stepped through the doors to the time they left. In some cases, that was years.
I worked with parents who could fit the Simon and Tibby bill. I knew social workers like Shannon and school administrators like Mr. Croft. I’ve seen kids fall through the cracks and poor decisions made on their behalf. I’ve seen what precedes events that become headline news and had to bite my tongue. I remain tight-lipped on so many news events, because it is never as black and white as the media portrays it and people think when making hurtful comments on articles and social media.
The work is difficult. It is emotional. It is exhausting. But it is worth it when you witness true change happening before you. When you see everything click into place. When they return several years later, young men and in college or working full-time, or they call you on the phone because they want to hear a voice they know that truly cares for them.
I’m not Sara. My boys are.