Giving birth

I’ve heard the analogy that writing and publishing a novel (or any other form of artistic endeavor) is akin to giving birth.

This can hold true in some respects. Depending on the gestation period – vacillating between bouts of sickness, anxiety, and elation followed by a delivery that can either be a long, painful process or a quick entry into the world of the treasured newborn.


Canada geese with gosling

I have never given birth to a child, and before anyone feels sorry for me, this isn’t something I ever felt the need to do. But I have now birthed five novels.

In the fifth one I created a character who was nine months pregnant. As the story takes place over four days, it was inevitable – and I’m not giving away any spoilers here – that at some point during that time she was going to go into labour.

This character is Gabriella in Christmas at Winterbourne. It is her first child and she’s thirty-seven years old. Gabriella had always planned on a home birth with the help of a neighbouring midwife. With Winterbourne House becoming snowbound, the options are narrowed down to Gaby’s mother and Felicity, who runs the stables and has experienced assisting in the birth of many foals. Somehow this isn’t reassuring for Wil, Gaby’s partner.

As I neared the halfway point in the story, I realised I was going to have to deal with an actual birth scene. Writing credible romance is one thing; I have actually experienced this and know the emotions that come with falling in love, etc (there you go…a fade to black if ever there was one). But how could I describe a birth?

While I was pondering this, I recalled the time I was on a residential writing course. There were sixteen of us—fourteen women and two men. At one point during the course we all had to do a five-minute reading of something we’d written. One of the young men started reading to the group and soon had everyone in stitches. For some reason, known only to him, he had written a scene in a hospital with a woman giving birth. I don’t think he had meant it to be funny, but it was. Luckily he took the laughter in good heart and wasn’t discouraged by the response.

So I figured any attempt I could make at describing childbirth would be about as successful. I kept putting off writing the scene as my mind worked around ways of doing it.

If you want to find out how I managed this, you’ll have to read the book. The opening scenes from Chapter 1 are available to read on the Affinity website.


Budding tree in spring

(Note: with no actual baby photos to show, I’ve resorted to a budding tree in spring and a gosling. The pic of the geese is a bit fuzzy—I guess I won’t be taking up nature photography any time soon.)

Buying options for Christmas at WinterbourneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK /Barnes & Noble /Bella BooksSmashwords /Apple iTunes


Meeting the hosts

Time to introduce the couple at the centre of the story who own and run Winterbourne House.


Something like the bourne – which gives Winterbourne House its name

Wil (Wilma) inherited the house from her adopted mother, Kim Russell. The back story for this is quite complex but is key to understanding some of Wil’s personality traits. She had a less than ideal childhood with a mother who never told her who her father was or talked about her own parents. They moved constantly from place to place until they came to Winterbourne village.

Whether or not it had been her mother’s intention all along to hook up with the reclusive lesbian novelist living in the village, Wil didn’t know for sure. But looking back, she wouldn’t have been surprised if that had been the case.

With the help of her partner, Gaby, Wil has turned the writer’s home into a successful guesthouse business. And in the process, has enjoyed a settled lifestyle for the past fifteen years.

This tranquility is about to be disturbed by the arrival of their first child. At the start of this story, Gaby is nine months pregnant and with a houseful of guests, plus friends and family, the four days over Christmas are not going to be peaceful. Wil wonders if she has what it takes to be a good parent, not having experienced much in the way of good parenting as a child.

Gaby (Gabriella) on the other hand has no such worries, growing up on a farm in Italy with loving parents and two brothers. In fact, her parents were more upset about her following Wil to England, than finding out their daughter was a lesbian. Gaby has an artistic flair that manifested itself through her contributions to the renovation of the house and gardens, as well as her cooking skills. She has also won awards for photography and is a valued member of the local photographic society.


The book is subtitled ‘A Memoir in the Making’ and this is one of the flashbacks – Wil’s memory of when she met Gaby.

Scene from Chapter One of Christmas at Winterbourne:

…It had been a hot day in Rome and Wil had spent most of it in the university’s library looking up references for the paper she was writing about the Etruscan people. Someone she’d met at a cafe had invited her to a party that evening and she almost didn’t go. As it was, she spent most of the evening leaning against a wall, watching people she didn’t know smoke and drink their way into oblivion. She sipped at a glass of red wine and refused two offers of badly wrapped spliffs. It really wasn’t her scene. Gabriella arrived with a group and at first Wil thought she was partnered up with one of them, but after a while they started to mingle separately. Wil finished her wine and decided to make a discreet exit. As she’d spoken to no one, she wasn’t likely to be missed. Standing outside the apartment building, she had just inhaled a welcome breath of fresh air when a voice behind her asked, in Italian, if she was leaving already. She turned around to find the dark-haired beauty she’d noticed earlier watching her from the doorway. Not trusting herself to speak, she simply nodded. Gabriella came up to her, took her hand, and asked her to please stay.

That evening they just talked. They met again in the following days, going for walks, sitting in cafés. Wil didn’t think it would go any further than that although she really fancied the woman. But she knew she would be heading back to England soon and didn’t want to start something that would end with a tearful separation and empty promises to keep in touch. Then Gaby asked Wil to go with her to see her parents. It was a family gathering for her younger brother’s birthday and she said she didn’t want to go on her own.

Several surprising things happened that weekend. First of all, Gaby’s family welcomed her wholeheartedly. Secondly, they obviously expected she and Gaby would sleep together and put them in the same bedroom. Wil hadn’t known what to do that first night. She waited until Gaby went to the bathroom, undressed hastily and crept under the covers. Gaby had laughed when she came back and saw her there. She had performed an extremely seductive striptease and jumped into bed. By the time they were on the motorbike, travelling back to Rome at the end of two days of family celebrations, Wil was in love…

Fifteen years later, Wil is still in love with Gaby. But is the impending birth driving them apart…?


Next week’s blog: Winterbourne’s ghost makes an appearance

Read the beginning of Chapter 1 from Christmas at Winterbourne on the Affinity website. The book is due for release on 1 November 2016.


Buying options for the books:

The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks /Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books/Smashwords / Apple iTunes

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting OverAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books /Smashwords Apple iTunes

Arc Over TimeAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Carved in StoneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes