Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Gruesome subjects

I'm having a lot of satisfaction writing about - well, a really horrible, can't-stop-reading about-it subject. Foetal abduction. This horribly real crime is on the increase worldwide (but thankfully, extremely rare). I first read about a small village in Italy that had two over a period of a decade, I think between the wars, and the facts stuck with me. Women will pretend to be pregnant then befriend or abduct a pregnant woman to attack her and steal the baby. Very few mothers survive, several babies have died. Worse, there are a small number of cases when the abductor has also killed the woman's other children.

Writing about such a painful, horrible crime allows me, as a writer, to dig deep into the psyche: my own experiences of being pregnant, even the painful years when I couldn't get pregnant. How someone goes from longing for a baby to needing one, obviously, is beyond me. Most abductors have been diagnosed with serious mental illnesses. But the more common crime of abducting babies from prams or hospitals is from the same psychopathology. Women either seek to attach a partner by claiming they are carrying his child, or they are obsessed with having a child and want to experience a parody of birth. They just turn up with a newborn, announcing the birth to have taken them by surprise. 

Anyway, I wondered how other people write the tough stuff, especially people who write about emotional anguish or crime. I can't say I feel upset exactly, but I do prefer to write undisturbed, because it takes longer to get deep, deep into the painful stuff.  

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