I know thinking of books as babies is a rather odd concept but bear with me while I explain.
To start with, the ideas come to me in a small form, often only snippets of what they are going to grow to be and it can take a while for them to fully form. Some take a few weeks but some, like Chains of Freedom, take many many years before I’m ready to think about writing a first draft.
The first draft is sort of the easy bit. It has its struggles but it’s a process of getting to know my characters and putting shape to what has been in my head somewhere for a while. Then there’s the drafts that follow, full of the tough stuff, where I try to get things formed just right so it’s going to be understood better by the rest of the world and not offend people or seem rude and uncouth.
And then finally, I get to the point where I have to let it go. Where the story and characters have to go out into the world, and although I can help them a little with some basic marketing, they have to find their own way, make their own friends who talk about them and share them with other friends, and I can only really sit back and watch and hope they do good and people like them, but I can’t do anything about the people who inevitably won’t like them. My work is done and as much as I might want to take them back in and try to perfect them a little more, or correct mistakes I made, I have to trust I did my best and let go.
On top of that, there’s everything I’ve learnt about being a parent, especially where my characters are concerned. I’m fairly used to getting weird looks from people who don’t write fiction when I talk about my characters. Mostly because I talk about them as if they are real people and for the most part they do feel rather real. I have conversations with them, they have family, past events, likes and dislikes, they feel pain and joy and all the myriad of emotions we feel too.
Also, during the stories, when they are hurt and cry, I almost always cry too, and when they grieve for dead characters I grieve too. When they make mistakes I feel sorry for them, and I get excited when they get something right and make a good decision. I cry happy tears when they fall in love and have their dreams come true.
My characters and my books are my children, and I’m sure I’ll feel all these things even more when I have children of my own, but for now, I’ll keep birthing characters and their stories.