Babies in Waiting is light and funny in places, but also addresses some of the darker realities of pregnancy and motherhood. Did you find it easy to combine both facets of the story?
I wanted to tell a story women could relate to, and for most women, pregnancy and birth are very mixed blessings: great joy (if you’re lucky), mixed with enormous upheaval, as well as challenges to your lifestyle, your health and your relationships.
That said, I’ve had negative comments where people say their own experience of pregnancy wasn’t included in the book, so while I think it covers lots of facets, it apparently doesn’t cover enough!
You’ve done lots of different types of writing and currently work as a copywriter. How easy is it to find that specific “fiction” writing voice when you need to?
Every type of work I do, I learn from… I hope I write better dialogue because I did a lot of theatre and TV, I hope I’ve learned to hone my editing skills and to use economy of words from copywriting. I also learned that there’s no such thing as waiting for inspiration, you have to show up at your desk and work in order to do the job/ get paid, and that’s really helped me in terms of the discipline of novel writing.
I’m used to changing gear and working on loads of different things, so it’s not a problem to sit down and work on a book, but finding my own writing voice? That’s taken years of failed attempts and false starts. There’s no short cut to that one, and it’s a journey I am only just beginning.
Do you have a favourite of your three protagonists? Is any of them more like you than the others?
I suppose because I’m closest in age to Louise, I connect most with her, but I think they’re all a bit like me … I was young and naïve when I had my first child, like Gemma, an older mum when I had my second, like Louise, I have experienced relationships under strain from a pregnancy and baby like Toni and I’ve been both a single and married parent.
Do you have a specific type of reader in mind when you write?
Um, myself, really. I try to write stuff I would like to read. I’m a grumpy, critical feminist reader, so I while I want to write commercial fiction with wide appeal, I also want it to be something I will enjoy.
Did you do masses of research about medical things like post-partum depression before you started writing?
I did a lot of online research and asked my sister, who is a doctor, a lot of questions. I didn’t have PND, but I did go through a bout of depression in my late twenties, which I used as inspiration. We also had the book read by a doctor before publication to make sure we’d got all the details right.
What’s next for Louise, Toni and Gemma?
I thought readers might like to know what happened to Louise and to her sister Rachel, so they appear as minor, but important characters in my new book, Now & Then (due out in April 2013). It’s the story of a married couple and two other women who launch a brand-new business.
It’s about balancing work and family and your own dreams, and that moment we all have (now and then), when we wake up and say “how the hell did I end up here?”
You can read an excerpt of the book here, and a review of the book here.
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