Today’s topic is: What elements from your life are woven into your latest book?
My latest 50,000 word book was written in Lockdown as a kind of distraction therapy. The title is ‘Barren‘, and it doesn’t feature any elements from my life at all. However, I did get the idea from the life of somebody else. That somebody else is unable to have children (I have 2 strapping sons – one of which is 38 today), and she has told me in the past that when she finds the right life partner then her sister will be a surrogate and have a child for her.
This situation gives rise to various possibilities, and I found the novel quite easy to write. As of July 27th the book is unpublished as I am still re-reading it and tweaking it here and there. As yet I don’t even have a cover. I will probably publish it in October, but here’s a little taster from the first chapter:
Barren, by Stevie Turner (copyright Stevie Turner 2020):
Part One, Chapter One
At least it was all over now. Eden Reece shuffled slowly along the hospital corridor with her body supported in a vice-like grip by Billy’s right arm. Her husband looked down at her with some consternation.
“Do you want to sit in a wheelchair?”
“No, it’s okay.” Eden shook her head. “We’ll be there in a minute.”
Eden knew Billy would not argue the toss; she would walk to the car under her own steam even if it took her the rest of the day.
“Don’t forget, you’re not supposed to lift anything for six weeks.”
Instead of the tart response she would usually have made, she let Billy’s gentle reminder wash over her like a rolling wave. The main entrance came into view, and she breathed a sigh of relief as she stepped out into the late June sunshine. A wall of heat lifted her sagging spirits at once.
“Where did you park?”
“Car Park A, just over there.”
She followed the direction of his finger, and saw the unmistakable roof of their new red Ford Freestyle showing a few inches above other cars in the row.
“Let’s get home.”
In the past, he had only opened the passenger door for her if she had been carrying one of their precious embryos. Eden brushed away a tear. One by one they had all failed except the lining of her uterus, which had flourished and continued to grow deep down into the muscular uterine wall. No babies would thrive there ever again. Somewhere not too far away in a laboratory jar, a stray pickled embryo might well have poked its head out of her formaldehyde-filled womb by now whilst calling out in a plaintive voice… ‘Mum!’
She gave him a thin smile.
“Are you being a gentleman?”
“Trying to be.” Billy gave her a wink. “I’m working on it.”
She tried distraction therapy by sending Esme a text, but in reality felt every bump in the road even though Billy drove slower than usual. Eden, relieved at last to see their house come into view, managed a smile as Billy brought the SUV to a halt opposite the garden gate.
“Pleased to be home?”
“Yes.” She nodded. “Definitely.”
“Come on. Let’s get you indoors.”
Trying not to wince, Eden hobbled stiffly along the short path all the while musing on the fact that the last time she had walked out of the front door, her womb, ovaries and fallopian tubes had all been intact. She pushed away another steadying arm as she climbed onto the doorstep.
“Don’t fuss, Billy. I’m all right.”
The arm, unheeding of her instructions, came around again.
“You’re wrapping me in cotton wool.”
“’Cos I love ya.” Billy gave her a quick peck on the cheek. “And I’ve got dinner all ready for tonight, as well.”
The sudden coolness of the hallway made her shiver.
“How did you guess?” Billy laughed. “Okay, I can’t cook, but I can knock up an awesome salad. Go and sit down, and I’ll bring you a cup of tea.”
She felt as weak as a kitten. Eden sat down gingerly on the sofa and leaned back against a cushion. Fingers of afternoon sun filtered through the net curtain and illuminated her favourite photo above the mantelpiece; the two of them smiling on their wedding day eight years before. She felt tears sting the back of her eyes. Who would have thought the diagnosis of adenomyosis would morph to cancer after a year and rob them of the chance of parenthood altogether?
Her eyes moved along to the wall on the left, and focused on a ten year old canvas print of Esme and Aron laughing on their wedding day outside St. Mary’s Church, Ipswich, whilst covered in confetti. Her sister, 31 and five years her junior, was already the mother of two adorable but boisterous twin boys. She, Eden, was an auntie, but although the twins were gorgeous and she loved them to bits, it was not the same as having a child of your own to care for.
Eden closed her eyes and imagined all the babies’ faces that she would never carry inside her. Would they have had Billy’s red hair, or her own mousey brown curls? Would they have been girls or boys?
“There’s some lemon drizzle cake to go with it.”
Billy’s entrance brought her out from her reverie. Eden took the tea gratefully, and nibbled on the slice of cake. Billy sat down beside her and took her hand in his.
“Not really.” She shrugged. “Life’s bloody well not fair, is it?”
“You’re alive”. Billy gave her fingers a squeeze. “That’s all that matters.”
“I should have taken them up on their offer.”
“What offer?” Billy looked at her. “Who?”
“The medics offered to freeze some of my eggs, but hey, I’m damaged. I didn’t want any baby of mine possibly starting life with cancer.”
Billy cradled both her hands in his.
“We’ve got each other. We’ll be okay. You’ll recover from this setback. Think of all the wonderful holidays we can have in the future without having to be stuck in children’s playgrounds all the time.”
She managed a thin smile.
“No sleepless nights. No shitty nappies. No photos in your wallet where your money used to be.”
“That’s the ticket.” He brought her hands up to kiss them. “Who wants kids anyway?”
Eden leaned against him in silent thought.
She knew Billy, an only child, felt just as despairing in reality. They had planned for a big family in those heady early days of their marriage. What kind of wife was she that couldn’t give her husband the baby they both wanted?
God played with her for reasons known only to Him.
Let’s see whether other blog-hoppers’ new books are based on aspects of their lives…
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