Posted in Writing

Why Writing a Book is a Bit Like Having a Baby

My column for the April edition of the Tetbury Advertiser, published under the shorter title of  “Of Books and Babies” to save space!

Cover of April 2017 issue of Tetbury AdvertiserThis month, as I prepare to launch my first novel, Best Murder in Show, I’ve been spotting the many similarities between producing a book and giving birth to a baby.

For me, the gestation time for my daughter and my novel have been about the same. There have been so many pre-publication checks by advance readers, editors and proofreaders, that I feel as if BMiS should have its own “orange book” of antenatal records that the NHS thrusts upon expectant mothers.

When you announce to friends that you’re pregnant, their response varies according to whether or not they have borne children themselves. So too with a novel:

“Ah yes, I’ve always thought I might do that, once I’ve got my career/house/travel bucket list sorted” versus “Oh my goodness, it’s SUCH hard work, but worth it in the end. I think.”

Regarding the title, I knew what I’d call my novel all along. No working titles for me. The same happened with my daughter. “But what if she doesn’t look like a Laura when she’s born?” a family friend enquired. Fortunately, she did.

When you write a book, you have plans, hopes and dreams for it, just as you do for your child. But when delivery day dawns, all you really want is for your baby to arrive intact and trouble-free.

The first time I saw my new-born daughter’s face, it was so screwed up that in my heavily drugged state I thought she didn’t have any eyes. “Never mind, we’ll get round it,” I thought to myself, ever the optimist. Two days later, when she finally deigned to open them, her eyes proved to be beautiful and perfect. Even so, I will be surprised if I don’t have at least one nightmare between now and my book’s official launch in which the letter “I” is omitted from my beautiful new book: Best Murder n Show, coming soon to a bookshop near you.

For medical reasons, Laura was born by planned Caesarean section. This meant I knew for weeks beforehand when her 0th birthday would be. So too with my book: it will enter the world shortly after 10am on Saturday 22nd April at the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. (Laura was born at 10.22am.)

But here’s the biggest difference between my baby and my book:

I am and will only ever be the mother of just one child, having embarked on motherhood too late for younger siblings to be naturally possible. Yet Best Murder in Show is the first in a planned series of seven Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries. In fact, I’m already expecting the second, Trick or Murder, due to appear later this year.

From now on, I plan to keep producing novels well into my old age.

I just hope no medical intervention will be required.

Copy of cover showing Katie Fforde quote
And now with a cover endorsement by the lovely Katie Fforde – I wonder whether I should ask her to be godmother?
  • Best Murder in Show is currently available from Amazon at the special launch price of £4.99 for the paperback, around the world, via Amazon – and from our village shop!
  • From 1st May 2017, it will revert to its usual RRP of £7.99, and will then also be available to buy from bookstores worldwide. Support your local bookshop, folks! Just give your friendly local bookseller ISBN 978-1911223139 and he or she will be able to order it via their usual trade supplier.
  • The ebook, currently available exclusively for Kindle, costs £2.99.
Posted in Family, Personal life

Put A Hat On That Baby!

Baby Laura in Santa hatEvery winter, I’m tempted to accost the parents of all small children not wearing hats. Christmas shopping, I’m transfixed by the sight of a bare-headed baby in its buggy. What is its mother thinking? Doesn’t she realise how much heat is lost through a baby’s head? And the younger the baby, the larger the head in proportion to the rest of its body. That poor baby will have a terrible headache by the time it gets home, and I bet its mother will be unable to work out why it’s crying.

Baby Laura in swing with smart fur hatI’m tempted to keep a supply of small hats in my coat pocket to slip on bareheaded babies when their mothers aren’t looking. I wonder how often I’d get away with it? It’s a bit like guerilla gardening: my intentions are of the best, but I don’t quite dare do it in public view. So I don’t.  I restrain myself. I simply shake my own (behatted) head and move on.

Moroccan fez hats in restaurantBut wouldn’t you think that new mothers would have got the message by now?  Especially as expectant mothers are told to bring a bonnet to the delivery suite.  These days, baby’s first photo usually incorporates a large hat.  It looks like a tiny relic of the 1940s, when you’d be as likely to leave home without your knickers as go out without your hat.  Minutes after my caesarean, my daughter was sporting a cheery pink and purple number.  I’d knitted it especially for the occasion.

Baby Laura asleep in winter fur hatI wonder, is there a specific age when you  start to feel a moral authority to comment on other people’s parenting skills?  Um, yes, I think that would be middle age.  Ahem. Better get back to my knitting.

But just to show I’m not beyond correction myself, here’s a link to the tale of a middle-aged lady who turned on me in Morrisons this time last year.  Maybe it’s all part of the spirit of Christmas….  The Perils of the Supermarket