Even before the pandemic I had been in a form of confinement. Carrying twins and with the luxury of a full-time job that I could do from home, I had made grand plans for after the arrival of my children. When my maternity leave kicked in, oh, the places we’d go! All the family we’d see! I would have time to edit my debut novel in exciting cafes, on riverfronts, up moors and in the glorious sunshine, two perfectly quiet babies napping at my feet or in their grandparents’ arms…

The Boy I Am

The Boy I Am


Almost a year later and the confinement has been almost total. At first, due to physical limitations (no way I was commuting with a bump the size of Jupiter), then by governmental advice, then by decree, and since the first lockdown ended a series of rules that seem to consider the impact on new mothers as an after-thought. My ‘lockdown’ is now as old 2020.

Despite being a surprisingly social author, it wasn’t my social freedoms being impacted that have had the most lasting effect. While pregnant I was advised not to go outside for fear for myself, as well as my then unborn children, yet pregnancy (at least for me) made me feel super-human. My immune system felt stronger than ever. My body was a human producing factory! I kept reciting Hollie McNish’s poem ‘Megatron’ to people at random. Sleeplessness and aching hips aside, I knew my limits, and worked harder than I ever had up until the twins arrived, leading a team of hundreds of people right up until my waters broke. Yet in February I was declared vulnerable by the outside world and had dozens of messages from people checking I was okay. Every call full of kindness, but each eroded my feelings of maternal power. Perhaps I was as vulnerable as they claim? Was I a bad mom for feeling strong? How could the way I felt inside be so incredibly different to the way the world was told to see me? Should I retire to bed and seek confinement like a Victorian lady? The doubt seeded in that month sits with me to this day.

It hit me that this was not a new feeling, the anxiety seeded into me about my gender roles versus my self-identity is so familiar it’s the fuel inside Jude, the main character in my debut novel, The Boy I am.

Jude is a young man, confined both physically and societally by expectations of his gender, inside a tower that is itself full of women who are confined (and indeed, controlled) by fear of the outside world. In the tower, masks are a part of the culture, and beyond the walls of the tower there’s the lure of possibility and a poisonous fog that will drive you mad before it kills you. Better to be safe inside. Inside, where power coupled with fear leads to control labelled as protection.

Stay safe. Stay inside. Protect each other.

And you boys, you’re special. We need you extra, extra safe.

I can’t deny the present situation felt even more presient as I edited my fictional world.

Ultimately, I know, I am one of those people who follow the rules that matter. I take the time I have to edit, to reflect, to come back stronger. And while I will always harbour doubts about the lockdown choices made in this pandemic, it has mostly reminded for the need for better, balanced representation weighing in on the rules for everything, not just in a pandemic. It is more important in times of crisis. Times, I worry, that will be more frequent. And while I certainly won’t go so far as to call our present world dystopian, it’s close. It feels like it’s breathing down our necks, albeit, behind a mask.

RELATED: How I spent lockdown by Suzie Tullett, author of Holly's Christmas Countdown

Well what a year 2020 has been. Thanks to Covid-19, we’ve all suffered upheavals and many of us have experienced losses. Although it’s just like me to make matters even more complicated by moving to a new country at the start of a pandemic. Yes, my husband and I could have waited. However, having accepted an offer on our then-home back in November 2019, come March of this year the last thing we wanted was to lose the sale altogether, leaving us with little choice but to finalise things and get on with it. So, packing up regardless and determined to hold on to all the confidence we could muster under the circumstances, we boarded a ferry and set off on our new adventure... to read more click HERE