Author guest post: Bethan Trueman
How being pregnant in a pandemic actually gave me the opportunity to finish writing The New Millenium Serial Killer.
When I began thinking about a topic for this blog, I thought of a few things I could talk about… but I have chosen to go with some quite personal things about the process of writing The New Millenium Serial Killer; I hope you don’t mind, and may actually enjoy, my rather self-indulgent look back at this time in my life.
It feels a little strange to think of a positive coming out of a pandemic and the resulting UK lockdowns, but I have always been the type to try and do so. Life for me and my family was, as I am sure is the same for most people reading this, affected by the Covid 19 pandemic. My husband, a self employed DJ whose bread and butter is evening entertainment for weddings, and who was usually busy every Friday and Saturday night as well as throughout the week too, was unable to work for over two years. This put a huge strain on our family life, and it meant that following my maternity leave when our first daughter was just over one year old, I returned to my day job in an office full time. This wasn’t something either of us thought would be the way our lives would go, but it was the right thing at that time, and in fact my husband developed such a great bond with our daughter through being a stay at home dad. When I found out I was pregnant with our second child, the government guidelines meant that I had to be off work as of 28 weeks, due to the nature of my job. So I was grateful to have the time at home with my then 18 month old, and husband, the three of us in our little bubble.
But I didn’t want to rest on my laurels too much. This was an opportunity I couldn’t waste, the chance to focus on two things, my side job at a podcast and a very important project: this book. Alongside my office job, I am also one half of the podcast Seeing Red, a weekly show in which myself and cohost (and friend!) Mark tell the story of a true crime case. It was a chance to write some future episode scripts, as well as to get things in order in preparation for the upcoming baby and the time I would need to take away from recording the podcast. So this was an important thing for me to do for me personally. But equally as important for me was to really focus on the book I was writing with Chris.
I planned my weeks so that I could make the most of my time with my daughter prior to nap time, and then I would pass her to my husband for a walk to get her to sleep whilst I headed up to my laptop. I spent my afternoons holed up in the spare room as much as possible, writing and editing and writing some more, before coming down for a family dinner and the chance to switch my mindset back to happy things instead of sadness and death.
I genuinely feel grateful to have had this as an option; prior to this point it was hard to work full time, spend the remainder of my daughter’s waking hours with her making the most of that time, and then trying to do my writing once she had gone to bed. In many other jobs I wouldn’t have been told to be home from 28 weeks, perhaps being offered alternative working arrangements or simply just being expected to work as normal. But my employers were amazing, they paid my sick pay until my maternity kicked in, and totally understood that for me there was no other option.
So for me this was the one key silver lining off the back of a pandemic: I was able to spend nine weeks that I wouldn’t have had otherwise with my daughter and husband, whilst also getting the book finished….
My daughter was born a couple of weeks before her due date, which (whilst normal and to be expected!) did interrupt my plans for my final few weeks of writing. I’d been rather blinkered, certain she would be late and that I’d have time to complete things and then she would arrive… what a fool! The last few drafts were sent back and forth with a tiny baby sleeping on my lap, often at strange times of the night and day whilst in the wonderful but strange newborn fog where they don’t sleep for long between feeds, fuelled by snacks galore.
The New Millenium Serial Killer is an absolute labour of love, for both myself and Chris in different ways. Chris had been looking at the cases and the names of these women for years before he brought me in on the project, and when he approached me it was years yet before the book was ready to approach publishers. And writing about these women, their cases, their families, well that was really hard whilst having my two girls in my mind. I really had a separation of arts and crafts sessions, playtimes and trips to the park, and the horrific murders I was writing about in the afternoons. But it was also my love for my girls that have pushed me to do this; thinking about families whose daughter has not come home. Christopher Halliwell may well have been responsible for over twenty other cases and for those families, it is important to keep pushing for justice for those victims.
We are so proud of our achievement with The New Millenium Serial Killer, and hope that bringing these women and their names back to public memory may push for justice and answers for their families at last.
The New Millennium Serial Killer is available to order here.