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How I Ended Up Writing A Book On Maternity Leave

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

My debut novel, The Concierge, is due for release in just 44 days. January 31st marks the big day for a project that I started in early 2022, when I was just three months postpartum with my first daughter.

After having a baby, I experienced such an overwhelming sense of 'I have to do something that this tiny person will one day be proud of', that the motivation to finally write a book came easily.

The book thing was always on my to-do list and I know I would have done it eventually, but it happened a lot quicker than expected when that sudden drive to show my daughter that anything is possible if you work hard enough kicked in.

All it took was a ten-month pregnancy, a seventeen-hour labour, three months of sleep deprivation and that sweet little face to finally kick me into action...

The Concierge by Abby Corson

The other day it occurred to me that I have only ever written complete books when either pregnant or postpartum. My first draft of The Concierge was completed right after having my daughter. My second novel, Huey, came a few months after that. And I started my third manuscript six months ago during my pregnancy with my second daughter, and I hope to complete a somewhat scrappy, but readable draft during this postpartum period.

Could it be that I need raging hormones to muster up any creativity? I hope not. I do not plan on having any more children, but I do plan on having a long career as an author.

Admittedly, I have dabbled in the book space before. During the Covid lockdown, I wrote bits and pieces of three manuscripts that will never see the light of day. I considered them practice while I tried to figure out what style I liked writing in. Readers of The Concierge may be surprised to learn that I wrote a Bridget-Jones-style rom-com before trying out a dark comedy (a genre I think I will leave to professional funny men and women), and then giving crime/thrillers a crack.

A key point in my story of how I ended up writing a book on maternity leave is that my baby loved to sleep. Two two-hour naps a day and one pre-dinner catnap meant that I had been given the gift of time, a rarity I did not take for granted. As soon as her eyes closed, I would whip open my laptop and type, type, type until I heard her stir. Sometimes I would be in the middle of a great flow of words when I had to stop everything and switch back into mum mode. It was frustrating at times, but at least I was making progress.

The Concierge by Abby Corson

It all started with an idea following ye olde 'write what you know' principal.

When I first moved to Melbourne in 2012, I was lucky enough to land a job as a travel journalist. It was all fluffy adjectives and cocktail reviews, but I fell for the experience that a five-star hotel could create for its guest. That seemed like a good place to start my book; a murder mystery set in a luxury hotel. But it had to be different to anything that had been written before.

The way the story was to be told was going to give it its uniqueness. As I am originally from the north of England, the book was to be set there. One thing I love about people from up north, is the often-mundane commentary that they give when experiencing their day to day life. This got me thinking about how I could express someone's internal monologue in a book; to write a high-intensity story of murder that also included someone's boring thoughts on what they were going to eat for lunch or what the weather was like. You will have to read The Concierge to see how I tackled that.

It took four months of naptime writing to complete a first draft of my manuscript and the most satisfying part of seeing that finished book sitting on my shelf is knowing that I did it during one of the most chaotic times in my life.

The Concierge by Abby Corson is available for pre-order now at Booktopia.

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