What happens after the happy-ever-after moment?
Littlehampton author Carol Thomas has been wondering.
Maybe Baby (Ruby Fiction, £7.99 paperback) is the result.
Carol, aged, 48, said: “After finishing the first in the Lisa Blake series, The Purrfect Pet Sitter, there were elements of Lisa’s story that weren’t central to the first book that I wanted to explore further. At the end of The Purrfect Pet Sitter Lisa and her old flame Nathan have 11 years to catch up on; there were secrets yet to be revealed and new discoveries to come to terms with.
“I enjoy reading and writing romance, but I often wonder what happens after the happy-ever-after moment. Writing a sequel lends itself to satisfying that curiosity. I was excited to see how my characters would work together as they embarked upon their relationship and faced the challenges that brought.
“There are also not that many romantic fiction books where a pregnancy is central to the story; writing a story where that was the case felt like an exciting challenge.
“Despite the fact I’ve had five pregnancies, I felt it was important to do further research to ensure the pregnancy in Maybe Baby was written in a way readers could connect with.
“My experiences, after all, were just that of one person.
“I put a request on my Facebook page asking for new mums to answer a few questions and the number of responses I received was overwhelming. They came through the night and into the next few days.
“The generosity of those who took part was amazing. They shared intimate details about their pregnancy and birth experiences.
“I smiled, cried, cringed for them and laughed out loud as I read. I had asked for the humorous and embarrassing bits as well as the sensible and more serious aspects. I write romantic comedy, after all.
“The research enabled me to look for common experiences, to note things that would be recognisable to most women facing the situations of my characters. I am incredibly grateful to all those who responded and have subsequently contacted them, letting them know that I have included them in the acknowledgements.”
But the birth scene in Maybe Baby came from personal experience.
“In 2007 our little girl was in somewhat of a hurry to be born and took us all by surprise when labour came on suddenly.
“It was early on a December morning, and it was frosty outside. In the time it took my husband to go and scrape the car, I knew we wouldn’t be making it to the hospital.
“When he spoke to the delivery ward, they advised us to stay where we were and that they would send an ambulance.
“In the meantime, with labour rapidly progressing, they remained on the phone advising my husband what to do.
“Acting as midwife, he took control of the situation.
“There was no time to be concerned. The what-ifs came later. He fetched clean towels and made me comfortable in the bathroom.
“He was incredibly calm and I was aware of the need to do the same for him. Before the ambulance arrived, our gorgeous girl was safely delivered. It was an extraordinary moment – just the two of us and our new baby!
“Our other children and two dogs were keeping out of the way downstairs. My three-year-old later enjoyed telling everyone she had heard me roaring like a lion. Perhaps I hadn’t been as calm as I thought!
“When, three years later, my son’s birth drew near, the hospital consultant said I had to plan for a home birth! I did and he was born soon after the midwife arrived.
“The birth in Maybe Baby is very much fictionalised, but it was lovely to reflect on these wonderful experiences as I wrote.”