The Birth of A Book Baby – SJI Holliday -Guest Post

Today I’m pleased to welcome SJI Holliday to the blog. Her debut novel, Black Wood, is published by Black and White Publishing on 19th March 2015.

The Birth of A Book Baby

By SJI Holliday

You might’ve heard people using the analogy of the ‘book baby’… the nice idea that you talk about in the pub, that causes a lot of discomfort as it grows, leading to panic, frustration and many hair-raising moments – coupled, of course, with the sheer happiness of seeing what the pen-and-ink child has become. So, with that in mind, on the eve of its electronic birth – here’s a list of what I imagine to be the parallels between actual human children and their counterparts: the fictional characters that live inside writers heads.

Will it hurt? (AKA – “trying to get published”)

No matter how long you spend writing and editing, no matter how many of your friends and family tell you how great your book is, getting published is not easy. There is no ‘overnight success’. It takes a long time and it takes a thick skin. However, you will be able to save money on wallpaper if you paste up your rejection letters. Of course there are exceptions – like Posh Spice, who pops in for a quick C-Section between shopping trips, there are always the Publishers’ Chosen Ones who are plucked from obscurity and destined for instant adulation. These are the exception, not the rule. In short: yes it will hurt.

Will I get fat? (AKA – “Writers’ Arse”)

Quite simply, yes. Just as those mothers-to-be are eating for two, so are you, dear writer. The physical you, and the mental you. The physical you can survive on very little, especially when it is jammed into a seat/on a bed/sprawled on the sofa for twelve hours a day while you bang out your next big thing. You should really consider wearing support stockings. Mental you, however, can only survive on caffeinated beverages, alcohol, toast and chocolate; and as much as you might think you’re exercising via the brain gym, your body will soon tell you otherwise.

Will it make friends? (AKA – “reviews and recommendations”)

It might do, depending on how pushy a parent you are. You might think that telling everyone that Little Johnny is a masterful recorder player as well as top of the class in every subject and able to bake the best cupcakes is a good thing, but the other mothers might not be so happy to hear you bleat on all the time. How about just letting Little Johnny make his own friends? He’ll soon meet like-minded folk if he tells them about how he doesn’t really like baking cupcakes but that he’s quite fond of watching daytime TV and having his writing time thwarted by twitter. Be yourself and be nice, and friends will soon come your way… and if they like your book, they’ll tell you – and they’ll tell others too.

Will it get bullied? (AKA – “jealousy”)

See above. If you don’t push anyone around in the playground, there’s a good chance that no one will try to beat you up. There’s always one though. The kid who would rather call other kids names than join in and have fun. There are adults like this too – they want your success, but they’re too scared to achieve it themselves. If this happens, and you get a horrible review, the only thing you can do is ignore it. Or find out who they are, steal their clothes after gym class, and throw them in the showers.

Will it change my relationship? (AKA – “the writers’ widow/er)

All I can suggest here is that you find a partner who likes making endless cups of tea, and doesn’t mind being ignored mid-conversation while something they’ve said has triggered an idea that you must tap into your phone immediately.

Will I have another one? (AKA – “the difficult book 2”)

Once the dust has settled, and the nice reviews are in – and the launch parties are over… and the 20 author’s copies you’ve been sent are firmly ensconced on your bookshelf, it’s time to reflect. It wasn’t so hard, was it? That nine months of carrying that thing around inside you… the stressful time before the birth, when you weren’t sure if you could carry on. The birth itself – the panic, followed by the excitement and delight that it was finally, after all that, HERE. You’ll have forgotten the sleepless nights and the despair. You’ll have forgotten how your skin turned grey from too many white carbs and a complete lack of Vitamin D. You’ll get a nice review one day, or you’ll spot someone reading your book on a train – and you’ll think, “aww, how lovely… I think I’d like another one.”

* * *


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SJI Holliday grew up in Haddington, East Lothian. She works as a Pharmaceutical Statistician, and as a life-long bookworm has always dreamt of becoming a novelist. She has several crime and horror short stories published in anthologies and was shortlisted for the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham Prize. After travelling the world, she has now settled in London with her husband. Her debut novel, Black Wood, was inspired by a disturbing incident from her childhood. You can find out more at

About the Book:

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“Something happened to Claire and Jo in Black Wood: something that left Claire paralysed and Jo with deep mental scars. But with Claire suffering memory loss and no evidence to be found, nobody believes Jo’s story. 

Twenty-three years later, a familiar face walks into the bookshop where Jo works, dredging up painful memories and rekindling her desire for vengeance. And at the same time, Sergeant Davie Gray is investigating a balaclava-clad man who is attacking women on a disused railway, shocking the sleepy village of Banktoun. 

But what is the connection between Jo’s visitor and the masked man? To catch the assailant, and to give Jo her long-awaited justice, Gray must unravel a tangled web of past secrets, broken friendship and tainted love. But can he crack the case before Jo finds herself with blood on her hands?”


6 Comments Add yours

  1. SJI Holliday says:

    Reblogged this on SJI Holliday: Author and commented:
    On the eve of my eBook publication…


  2. crimeworm says:

    I was trying to work out where it was set, and the only town I could think of in that area was Haddington, basically because I had an ex from there (until my flatmate decided to sleep with him when my friend and I went to Essex!) His name was Neil; he drove lorries, and was v fit. I was only 18 – I’d totally forgotten about him until I started reading your book…!


    1. janetemson says:

      The strange things books can do!


      1. crimeworm says:

        Not even thought of him in nearly 25 years – and my God! That flat was a dump (student days!)


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