Dawn French talks about her new book Because Of You

Virgin Radio

19 Oct 2020, 15:26

Imagine giving birth to a baby, only for them to be stolen from you. That's the terrible secret at the heart of Dawn French's new novel, Because Of You and she joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky this morning to talk about how it came about.

Chris started off by asking how the writing for this new book went, after she released a diary for her sixtieth birthday.

Dawn laughed: "I turned 63 last week, no card from you I noticed, although there's always time to catch up isn't there Chris, with something engraved, something dangly, something from Tiffany's, don't embarrass me with something small!"

She explained how the artwork for her books came about: "At the very beginning when I started to write my first novel, I didn't want one of those covers with sort of girly slingback shoes or a cupcake or little stars, it's a bit "ooh a girl has written this and only people with no brains can read it please". I didn't want that. I want something a bit stark and taken seriously."

Chris asked about the plot of the new book (and don't worry, the twist is kept secret) and asked Dawn to pitch the book as if he were Steven Spielberg. 

It's a hard-hitting tale, says Dawn: "There are two very different women in a hospital ward giving birth on the same night. In the morning, one of those women takes home a baby daughter, and the other woman doesn't"

She continues: "The woman who takes home the baby daughter, has stolen the other woman's child. The most unthinkable thing you can imagine happening to you as a mother is that somebody takes your brand new baby."

Dawn explains further: "The novel explores what happens 18 years later, when that daughter finds out that the mother she's always thought was her mother, isn't. What that does to your sense of identity, to your sense of belonging, to what family you're from.  I'm interested in all of that, whether we're made of our blood and our bones or whether we're made of who stepped up for us"

Chris and the team asked where the inspiration for such a plot came from. 

Dawn said: "Well, I suppose I wanted to write a terrible, sinful, unimaginable, awful thing that you then forgive somebody for. That's what I really wanted to do."

At the heart of the story is a woman called Hope, who steals the baby: "I wanted you to love Hope and understand her and forgive her. It's quite a hard thing to forgive that, so that was my writing challenge. To make sure that you come on side with Hope eventually, but it's up to the reader whether they do or they don't."

Because Of You is out now.