A mum of two from Hurstpierpoint has tackled topics of medical ethics in her first novel being published this week.
Baby X by Rebecca Ann Smith is thought-provoking speculative fiction about the implications of new fertility technologies.
Rebecca wrote the book drawing on her own experiences of motherhood. She said: “I wanted to capture some of the strangeness and intensity of those early days of at home with a newborn baby. Having said that, this book is a suspenseful thriller, with plenty of action and intrigue, so I’m very happy to say that almost none of what happens to my characters ever happened to me.”
The book has three intertwining female voices following the fate of ‘X’, the first baby to be grown in an artificial womb, who has suddenly disappeared, along with Alex Mansfield, the doctor leading the groundbreaking fertility project. While the child’s parents wait anxiously for news, and the world’s media clamour for answers, Alex’s colleagues question her recent behaviour and begin to take action.
Rebecca continued: “I did a lot of research when I first started investigating the idea. I read articles online, and also books, from scholarly works on medical ethics - for example Donna Dickenson’s ‘Property in the Body’ - to more accessible books such as ‘Genetics for Dummies’.
“It helped that I had plenty of professional experience writing about medicine and health issues, so I was used to reading scientific papers and distilling them for a general audience.
She added: “Part of the process of rewriting was to cut through all that and focus on the human story I wanted to tell.”
But despite raising some difficult issues surrounding fertility treatment, she hops people will read her book for pleasure.
She said: “Although the book raises questions about medical ethics, I’m much more interested in starting a discussion than promoting a particular agenda. I’m certainly not against developments in fertility technology, or medicine in general - on the contrary, I’m very excited by new advances, for example the use of stem cells. I’m more interested in exploring the implications of new technologies than in campaigning for or against anything.
“Most of all though, I hope readers will be entertained by the story. If they think about some of the themes the book raises then that’s great. But as long as they are gripped enough to keep turning the pages that’s okay with me.
Her book is available via her website www.rebeccaannsmith.co.uk
Rebecca is also launching her novel locally on Thursday June 30 from 7.30-9.30pm in the Barn, behind Vanilla in Hurstpierpoint High Street.
She already has a few project lined up for after the launch.
She said: “I’ve written two other novels. One is a book for nine to 12 year olds, a retelling of the Selkie myth about people who are half-human, half-seal.
“I’m also reworking a dystopian young adult novel - possibly the first in a series, about a world in which there are three rather than three genders. And I’ve got lots of other ideas.”