Recently, fellow blogger, Brittany Boyce (https://aliceandeve.wordpress.com/) posted eloquently on why menstruation should not be considered a taboo subject. As I manage the symptoms accompanying my move towards menopause – anaemia, painful and heavy bleeds, headaches – I have begun to wonder about the literary depiction of this stage in a woman’s life. Indeed, I struggle to think of one which feels authentic and honest.
I have been lucky that up ’til this point my reproductive system has caused me few problems. Now that it is edging too centre stage (as far as I am concerned) my impulse is to write about the experience. Yet I am shy and cautious about doing this. It feels more taboo than any of the other subjects I have committed to paper.
In my crime novel, The Art of the Imperfect (http://goo.gl/z7HFgz), one of my main characters has post natal depression with psychosis. In that novel and its sequel, The Art of Survival (http://goo.gl/C6U2Jj) launched this week, I attempt to address the stigma surrounding vulnerability and mental health. I have drawn on my own experience of depression several times in order to challenge stereotypes and prejudices.
This hasn’t been easy, though most of the time I have been greeted with understanding and my disclosure has helped others to tell their own stories. It feels as difficult to write about being a pre-menopausal woman. And yet, it must be more common amongst the population than depression.
Do you have taboos in your writing? Do you think it is important to tackle taboos through writing?
The Art of Survival – available on Kindle & in paperback on 21st November
The Art of Survival asks: What will fear push ordinary people to do? What happens when little girls get lost? DS Theo Akande is investigating the disappearance of eight year old Victoria Everidge. Her mother, Yvonne, is a desperate woman. What is she capable of? Eminent journalist and newspaperman, Stan Poole, dies leaving a filing cabinet full of secrets. As these leak out, his daughter, Hannah, begins to question her own girlhood. She is losing her way. Her best friend, Lawrence, newly an item with Theo, finds it hard to remain supportive. Instead Hannah clings to her work as a trainee counsellor and to her client Julia. Julia is apparently no little girl lost, but appearances can be deceptive. Then a body is found.