Toronto author gains worldwide recognition for first novel, ‘The Push’

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WATCH ABOVE: Ashley Audrain's debut novel, ‘The Push,’ has been a soaring success since its release in January 2021. The book touches on the darker side of motherhood and has already hit several bestselling book lists. Katherine Ward speaks with the author about her motivations for writing the novel and what the future holds – Feb 15, 2021

A Toronto author is getting worldwide recognition for her first novel. The Push, released in January, quickly topped bestseller lists around the world.

Ashley Audrain started writing the novel when her first son was six months old.

“During the first year of his life I really thought a lot about the expectations of motherhood,” Audrain said. “How we are taught motherhood should be, how we are taught by society it should feel, the pressure we get about the kind of mother we are supposed to become.”

The story examines the darker sides of motherhood. The primary relationship focuses on a new mother, Blythe, and her daughter Violet.

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Audrain further rounds out the narrative by going back in time, looking at generational connections. The reader meets Blythe’s mother and grandmother, and through chapters that function as snapshots in time, an understanding of each woman’s trauma emerges.

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For Blythe, the central challenge comes down to her ability to forge a relationship with her daughter and her questioning of Violet’s motivations.

“I did want to explore the journey of one woman if in fact she couldn’t make that connection to that child,” Audrain told Global News. “And maybe how there was something about that child that she just couldn’t resonate with.”

Audrain said while the psychological thriller is not autobiographical, she knew the themes were universal.

When it comes to what inspires Audrain, the 38-year-old said she loved writing since she was a child.

“It has always been the thing that brought me the most joy in life and the thing that has made me feel most like myself,” Audrain said.

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Within days of its release, the book became a best-seller, and a week later people were lining up seeking the production rights. “I pinch myself many times a day, every day it is as surreal and as incredible as you could imagine,” said Audrain.

U.K. producer David Heyman won the bid to produce the novel for the screen.  Heyman is known for his work on the Harry Potter films, A Marriage Story, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The plan is to turn The Push into a television series. Audrain said she will serve as an executive producer for the project.

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Audrain said these developments are a dream come true. “I consider it a great gift and a great privilege for that to be my world now and for that to be my job now.”

When it comes to writing, Audrain said she had never planned for a sequel. She is in the process of finishing a second novel called, The Whispers. Audrain said that story examines notions of female friendship in adulthood. No release date has been set for the book.

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