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The ultimate complication

May 22, 2012

I once worked with a guy who said that he didn’t consider people married until they had a kid. When you get married, you can always erase it, if it’s a mistake. But you can’t put the kid back. And even if you dissolve the marriage, you’re still bound together by your joint creation.

Yet most of the books I’ve read, in spite of the tendency for them to feature sex scenes–if you’re a private investigator or a cop, you have to have sex–there aren’t any babies nine months later.

Introducing a baby is a scary move because if it doesn’t work in terms of your story, you’re stuck with it. Even the boarding school option is years away once the baby comes. Maybe that’s why there’s so much throwing down in the books I read, and so few babies. They just don’t fit.

But the challenges are amazing. The lack of sleep and general structure in your life. The challenge of finding child care that can work with your protagonist’s busy life–the part of it we care about. The requirement to ditch the muscle car for something more…get ready for it…practical.

And if you’re part of the genre I read, there’s the problem of getting spit-up in the barrel of your 9 mm, which is a total downer.

But once again, if the plot line doesn’t work, you’re still stuck with the kid, unless one of your characters is named Bobby Ewing and he has a shower.

Birth, like death, is an irrevocable event. Jeremiah Healy’s series about private investigator John Francis Cuddy crashed to a halt not too long after he killed Cuddy’s girlfriend in a plane crash. (Cuddy’s wife had already died.) Killing her was a brave move, because he couldn’t really unring that bell.

Introducing a baby is the same type of move…are you game?

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2 Comments
  1. Suzanna Harvill permalink
    May 22, 2012 10:24 am

    I wonder if this is what has happened to the Joan Hess stories set in Maggody Arkansas. In the last book Police Chief Arly Hanks feared she might be pregnant. I thought at the time this was a mistake. How is the only cop in a little hick town going to look after a baby? And the potential grandma runs a bar. She can’t baby sit. I’m wondering if Joan got stuck with this because I haven’t seen a new Maggody book since then.

  2. Chris Hamilton permalink
    May 22, 2012 11:36 am

    Not a book, but they did this in In Plain Sight, and it actually fit quite nicely with the character of Mary. It’s possible to bring off, and if you do it well, it could make the book a lot richer. Definitely a new challenge.

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