No Defence is the inspirational, heartfelt memoir of Kenny Mcilwain’s extraordinary courage to share his long-held secret of being sexually abused while serving as an apprentice in the Royal Australian Navy and his fight; for his own survival, the truth to be known, and to make those who so profoundly failed him accountable for their heinous and indefensible actions.
Belief, justice and awareness for sexual abuse victims. No more covering up, no more silence.
Do you always write in this genre or do you like to break out of the box?
My last three books have all been in the genre of memoir. I have however, previously written a child’s fiction novel.
What themes guided your book and were you aware of them from the start?
The themes that have guided my three memoirs are real life experiences shared with truth and honesty – bringing awareness to topics considered embarrassing, uncomfortable, shameful or that have historically been hidden and not talked about openly. Betrayal in marriage, mental health, sexual assault, domestic violence.
Where and how do you write?
I write in my study on my desktop. I write when I have the opportunity to do so, usually when I am on my own in the house. No Defence took three years to write as I was working 4 or 5 days per week as a school teacher. I tended to write every second weekend when my boys were at their dad’s house. At the end of the day, a glass of wine next to my right hand certainly helped lubricate my creative juices.
What are your thoughts on authors reading reviews of their work?
I do not recommend authors read their reviews. This comes from personal experience. As much as it is lovely to receive grateful and positive comments from readers, the few scathingly personal, negative reviews, have left me feeling sick in the stomach and disheartened for days. I am now very careful to avoid looking too closely. There will always be trolls no matter what you do.
How do you feel about the ‘write what you know’ mantra?
I agree with the write what you know mantra. Good writing is authentic writing and this needs to come from what’s inside you – your experiences, your thoughts, your knowledge, your beliefs. This applies to fiction writing as well as non-fiction.
What’s next for your writing?
Right now, I am writing blogs for my website. I was planning on writing a third memoir book to follow Smashed To Pieces and Piece By Piece – called The Missing Piece, but I feel I can do this through my blogs and connect more dynamically with my readers. I then want to have a good crack at writing an adult fiction novel.
Lauren Wilkinson-Barnes grew up as a competitive swimmer, winning national medals as a world ranked Backstroker and representing Australia twice in 1985. She lived as an athlete at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra from 1985 – 1986.
Lauren has a Bachelor of Teaching and a Diploma of Professional Counselling. She is a primary school teacher and mother of four sons, living in the beautiful Southern Highlands of NSW.
Despite always having a penchant for writing, an unexpected life crisis in 2008 became the cathartic catalyst for writing her first book, Smashed To Pieces. Piece By Piece followed, continuing the story of her recovery and healing. Her latest book, No Defence is the gripping memoir of Kenny Mcilwain, a remarkable man Lauren met through her swimming, who had a life story begging to be shared with the world.