1. First hand experience of hospital: In The End of Men a virus to which women are immune kills 90 per cent of the world’s men. An early scene happens in A and E and some people ask if I've had any medical training. Unless watching fifteen series of Grey’s Anatomy counts, alas, no. I have however had two scary episodes of sepsis since 2018 which involved late night dashes to A and E and seeing (with the surreal edge that a high fever gives everything) how nurses and doctors deal with medical emergencies. In short, calmly, kindly and far better than I’d ever be able to.
2. Grew up in Glasgow: in the book, Patient Zero is treated by Dr Amanda Maclean, a no-nonsense Glaswegian A and E doctor. She’s wry, clever and determined. I want her to a) exist; and b) be my best friend. My parents are Glaswegian and we moved there from London when I was fourteen. They say to write what you know. I’ve never experienced a male-only plague (and never plan to) but wanted to ground the story in a familiar place.
3. Books that inspired me: The End of Men is my debut novel and explores what the world would look like without 90 per cent of men. What would change or stay the same? How would it feel for the people left behind? The Power by Naomi Alderman inspired me to use speculative fiction to explore gender. I read World War Z by Max Brooks when I was in my early twenties. It made the unimaginable (a Zombie apocalypse?!) feel real and terrifying through multiple narrative voices which I also use in The End of Men. When I was writing the final draft in autumn 2019 I read Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel which was an emotional North Star: it shows how the human spirit survives even as a pandemic changes everything.
4. Authors I admire: I’ve been a huge Julia Quinn fan (who wrote Bridgerton) since I was thirteen. I love Marian Keyes and the humour that laces her books, even when they’re addressing difficult subjects. And Margaret Atwood is a genius: The Handmaid’s Tale is a perfect novel.
5. Work as a lawyer: I studied law at university and work as a corporate litigation lawyer. If you’ve always wanted to write, it is possible to do it with a full-time job! Some of my favourite writers (like Roxane Gay and Kiley Reid) write and work. Just remember that a novel is 500 words written 200 times. That’s how I break it down and make it manageable.
6. I’m a night-owl/vampire: if you see me awake before 8am, you need to ice skate home because hell has frozen over. I write in the evenings and find it easiest to be creative between 10pm and 1am.
7. Feminist: as is probably no surprise given the title of The End of Men, I’m a feminist. The book isn’t about hating men at all, instead it explores how the world would change and what inequality would disappear (and appear!) if the majority of men disappeared.
The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird, is out in paperback on 12th May, published by Borough Press