How to turn your obsession into justifiable research…
Over the past year I have been looking at a lot more social media than usual. But it’s OK. It’s research!
Like many people, I have a low-level addiction Instagram, twitter and Facebook. I love the way they help me keep in touch with far-flung friends, and, as a writer with a background in illustration, I particularly relish the visual storytelling opportunities they offer.
But, as with all good things (see also cake and alcohol), too much social media can, of course, be damaging both for the user and the creator. We waste time, get drawn into horrible exchanges that escalate into abuse, and, in the worst cases, we stand to lose sight of our real selves.
I am particularly fascinated by the phenomenon of the influencer. It’s an entirely new, 21st century career, and even though some of the early stalwarts like Zoella and Paris Hilton are adapting and surviving as time moves on, many fall by the wayside by going out of fashion, growing older or simply burning out.
Because how exhausting must it be to monetise seemingly every aspect of your life by making it public on your social media channel? At the end of the day, when you sign that contract with Mammon, what do you have left? Do you live your life in order to create Instagrammable moments? Or do the moments become your life? Where does work end and real life begin? Can you ever be honest when you are paid to like products? How do you age? And what about the exposure such a public life forces on you – the darker corners of fandom?
At the start of The New Mother, my main character, famous UK influencer Rachel is negotiating all of these questions. Although she has no partner, in order to move through her issues, she decides to go it alone and have a baby. Potentially a massive wake up call to someone whose authentic comes with a hashtag prefix, It’s arguably one of the most real things a person can do. Like every expectant parent, Rachel wants everything to be perfect, so she reaches out to her fans for a live-in mother’s help. One such follower, Abbie, seems to fit the bill entirely.
Or does she?
While The New Mother explores parenthood, influencer culture and the haves and have-nots of that world, it gets a lot darker than that, as you might expect from a Stephen King fan with previous in writing twisted and twisting stories.
So in the end, you will be asking who you are going to trust.
Who will you take sides with?
And who, ultimately, will get what they want?