Experience is the Teacher of All Things
by Helen MacKinven
“Life begins at forty!” is one of the many clichés to cling on to when you reach a certain age. Is life better because you’ve racked up years of experience and learnt from your mistakes? Are you more comfortable now in your own skin and don’t worry about what others think of you? I can definitely answer yes to both questions and my more mature outlook impacts on who I am as a person and that’s reflected in my writing.
My debut novel, Talk of the Toun, was published last year when I was 47 after ten years practising the craft of writing. Why did it take me so long? Because I had a lot to learn about things like the narrative arc and also needed to develop my writing ‘voice’. Could I have achieved my dream of being a published writer earlier? Who knows, all I know is that during those thirty odd years I was busy living and all the positive and negative situations I experienced have shaped me as a person and now have an impact on my writing.
Ageing is a topic I’m drawn to, especially in women, and how getting older impacts on their sense of self and role in society, such as the debates about using older females as presenters in the media. Buy Buy Baby, is the bittersweet quest of two very different women united by the same desire – they desperately want a baby. But what lengths will Julia and Carol go to have a baby in their arms?
One of the issues facing Julia is that her biological clock is ticking louder than ever as she’s 39 and moans that, “All I want is to find Mr Right before I become Ms Wrinkly!” She panics and decides to pursue her goal of becoming a mum, whether she has a man in her life or not.
Although I started writing later in life, I had my own children relatively young, and gave birth to my first son when I was aged 25. What if I hadn’t found the right man to father my children? Would I have accepted this and remained childless or felt like Julia, as if there was something missing in my life?
I was also very lucky not to have any problems getting pregnant or unlike Carol, I have never experienced the death of my child. How would a tragedy like that shape me as a person?
These are the questions I wanted to explore in Buy Buy Baby and I hope readers will enjoy pondering them too.
About Helen MacKinven
Helen MacKinven writes contemporary Scottish fiction, with a particular interest in exploring themes such as social class and identity, using black comedy and featuring Scots dialect. She graduated with merit from Stirling University with an MLitt in Creative Writing in 2012.
In her day job Helen MacKinven works with numbers, travelling all over Scotland to deliver teacher training in maths. By night, she plays with words writing short stories and developing ideas for her next novel. Helen's short stories have appeared in a number of anthologies and literary journals, such as Gutter magazine.
Originally from the Falkirk area, Helen now lives in a small rural village in North Lanarkshire with her husband. She has two grown- up sons but has filled her empty nest with two dogs, two pygmy goats and an ever-changing number of chickens.
Readers can find out more about Helen on her Facebook page and follow Helen on Twitter - @HelenMacKinven
By Helen MacKinven
Published by Cranachan Publishing (7 July 2016)
Carol talks to her dog, has an expensive eBay habit and relies on wine to forget she’s no longer a mum following the death of her young son.
Cheeky besom Julia is career-driven and appears to have it all. But after disastrous attempts at internet dating, she feels there is a baby-shaped hole in her life.
In steps Dan, a total charmer with a solution to their problems.
But only if they are willing to pay the price, on every level...
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