Stuff changes when you become a parent; that’s the lovely reality. It influences our work as well as our home lives. I, an author, have acquired new literary superpowers. So, without further ado, I’d like to share how motherhood has influenced my writing:

Gina Blaxill

Gina Blaxill

1. I am an emotional wreck. OK, I’m joking, but I have become MUCH more emotionally sensitive. My kids are old enough now that I can bombard them with stuff from my own childhood. This month I’ve introduced my sons to the glorious 90s TV show Gladiators. My older son is well into it. He can barely stand the tension of the Eliminator, and he laughs when Wolf behaves badly. This actually makes me cry. It turns out a lot of non-sad things affect me now too, as well as genuinely sad things. How does this help my writing? I am much more perceptive. I see emotional shades of grey that I didn’t before. I’m better able to execute emotion on the page.

2. I procrastinate far less. If you want to become more efficient, I thoroughly recommend the kids thing. I’ve learned to write in short pockets of time. I edit to a soundtrack of PAW Patrol, Night Garden and Blippi (I’ve also become highly skilled at tuning noise out, especially Blippi, who, frankly, I’d want to tune out anyway). Pre-kids, I was convinced I could only write in long stretches. Now I know otherwise.

3. I now consider the male point of view more. I have sons. My books are more girl-focused. Although my lads are young, I feel initiated into Boy World, and am much more attuned to male perspectives. I’m also stockpiling Wikipedia levels of facts about steam engines and space which I WILL get into a book one day.

4. I spend more time thinking about responsibility - in my writing, and as a parent. My latest YA-crossover thriller, You Can Trust Me, tackles date rape and sexual assault. I’m now thinking ahead about how I can raise my sons as allies. It’s necessary and important that they understand the role that they - and their friends - have in preventing rape culture. A lot of parenting involves winging it, but this book has made me much more aware of how I parent, the language I use, and my influence on my sons and their attitudes. I’m aware too that I owe it to parents to handle sensitive content well - they’re trusting me to tell a story to their kids in a responsible way. What I’d really love is for parents to read You Can Trust Me as well as their teenagers - books can open up talking points in a way that it can be hard to otherwise.

5. I see things from a parental as well as teenage perspective. My parent characters are now less rubbish. If you read YA, you’ll know that YA parents are often hilariously terrible. Even the well-meaning ones are clueless and preoccupied or simply too busy to notice their children’s inappropriate romances. YA parents are often like that because good, sensible parenting would take agency away from the teen characters - or because authors (cough, me) are too lazy to characterise Mum and Dad well. Not anymore!

Gina Blaxill’s latest book, You Can Trust Me, is out now.