What has happened to Cornelia Blackwood?
She has a loving marriage.
But she has no friends.
Everyone knows her name.
But no one speaks to her now.
The inspiration behind the flight of Cornelia Blackwood
This is the book I have wanted to write ever since I became a mother. It was inspired by my own experience and explores some difficult themes, including the temporary ‘madness’ that is postpartum psychosis. I knew I wanted the novel to be dark, and the subject matter lent itself to a touch of the Gothic (which is where the crows come in!) My aim was to combine a gripping and atmospheric story with a serious look at the trials and tribulations of early motherhood, which, in my own case, involved not only crippling exhaustion, but paranoid anxiety, nightmares, fleeting hallucinations, and delusional thinking.
Cornelia Blackwood started as a short story called When the Bough Breaks. At the time, I was working as a magazine journalist, trying desperately to get them to run something on postnatal depression or the effects of sleep deprivation or new mums. They didn’t want to know; they only wanted ‘positive’ features. So I thought I’d explore the subject in fiction. The short story worked well, but it didn’t say enough and I knew I needed to go deeper. I tried it as a radio play, but that didn’t quite do it, and so, 15 years after the original short story, with Cornelia still whispering in my ear, the novel was born.
It wasn’t until after I’d written Cornelia Blackwood that I realised I’ve touched on maternal mental health in some form or other in all of my novels (though Cornelia is the only one where it’s a main storyline ) For a longer and more in-depth discussion of this subject, check out my four-part blog piece, why I write about Maternal Mental Health in my novels.