The Book of the Unnamed Midwife

I wrote a book. I am a novelist.

Heh. Add me on LinkedIn.
Heh. Add me on LinkedIn.

I started writing the story that would become The Book of the Unnamed Midwife last summer. I had the idea during finals and I set it aside, convinced that it would take over my life and make studying impossible.

I was right. As soon as finals were over, I hunched over my laptop for half a day and wrote the first 12,000 words in one go. I was extremely, incredibly fortunate to be in a short-term writing program at Cal at the time, and I workshopped those first pages with a sharp group of writers who gave me invaluable feedback.

One year later, my book has just been released by Sybaritic Press. It’s available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats.

But you hate Amazon! Or, you don’t have a Kindle! Or, you prefer to buy everything with cash! Fear not. You can also buy the book directly from me. I take cash, debit, credit, PayPal, Google Wallet, and Venmo, and I’ll sign it and get it to you wherever you are. And if you really want to read my book but have no money or very little money, let’s talk sliding scale/trade. I’ll have them in stock next week, and I’ll have signing and reading events in SF and East Bay soon.

(Book not shown actual size)
(Book not shown actual size)

So what’s it about?

It’s about a world where there are hardly any women left, because of some terrible occurrences. I’m going to level with you: bad things happen. Trigger warnings* are in effect for rape, gang rape, human trafficking, and (spoiler alert kinda) FGM.

So why would I write about all that?

I wrote this book because I LOVE the post-apocalyptic genre. I read Y the Last Man and The Handmaid’s Tale and Alas, Babylon and A Canticle for Leibowitz and  Children of Men and The Road and I loved them all. I watched The Walking Dead, fascinated not by how and why there are zombies (I couldn’t care less about the reason the world ended) but by how the group’s dynamics shift and change in the absence of the structures that teach us how to behave.

Let's keep it subtle.
Let’s keep it subtle.

But most of these works do not account AT ALL for how different the loss of the modern world impacts women differently than it does men. Imagine if every woman you know suddenly lost access to birth control, and then lost any bodily autonomy that the rule of law and the decency of her community afforded her. Imagine if every woman on The Walking Dead somehow didn’t find the time to shave her armpits every week but spent her hours raiding pharmacies for the Pill and calculating how long before they all expire. Imagine that the structure in The Handmaid’s Tale that allocated the few remaining fertile women to the men in power never materialized and instead they were hunted and treated as a commodity.

These thoughts would not leave. So my hero was born.

Seriously don't say I didn't warn you.
Seriously don’t say I didn’t warn you.

She’s tough. She has some of me, some of my good friends, and some of the bad ass we all wish we were.

So, I have become the thing I always wanted to be. I became this with the help of people like my husband, John, who read this whole book out loud to help me edit it. People like Jo Wu and Eric O. Scott who wrote me book blurbs even though I asked during finals and gave them terrible notice. People like my publisher, Marie Lecrivain, who is both sensitive and creative, but also an adept ‘bitchess’ as she calls it, and made this whole thing happen. People like Robin Gray-Reed who answered my endless questions about midwifery, and Devin Cooper who helped the cover come into being. Thank you all from the bottom of my ink-and-paper heart.**

No, really, Meg. Your list is fascinating. Do go on.
No, really, Meg. Your list is fascinating. Do go on.

This is where I ask for more favors, even though I have already had so much help. If you read my book, please please please review it. Review it honestly, I promise I will not hold it against you. (Unless you give it 1 star because it was delivered late, or damaged. Please report that to the seller and don’t torture my poor writerly heart.) Review it on Amazon, on GoodReads, on your blog, on Twitter, on Tumblr, on Reddit, anywhere at all. Tell a friend you read it. Shout it out of a moving car. Mutter it in your sleep. Seriously. Indie books depend on word of mouth, and all my friends are so good at running theirs that I cannot help but ask. Even taking an Instagram picture of yourself reading the book would mean a lot to me. Anyone I know who does this is invited to my house for dinner or cocktails or conversation or all three. This is what will help my book succeed, and if you’re a part of that, believe me when I say I will never forget it.

I wrote and published my first novel. I can’t believe this is my life.





*I don’t care if you are one of the people who think trigger warnings are unnecessary or dumb, frankly. I know people who don’t want to be blindsided, and it’s my book. No one compelled me to post them, it was a choice.

**If I have forgotten to thank you (and I know there’s someone) please pelt me with rotten fruit at your earliest convenience. <3


Liked it? Take a second to support Meg Elison on Patreon!

3 thoughts on “The Book of the Unnamed Midwife

  1. Meg, I just began reading YOUR BOOK(How great does that sound? “YOUR BOOK”) So I cannot comment just yet. I want, however, to share the reply I sent to your wonderful Mom Tracy, after reading the words and watching your commencement speech…perhaps not the correct forum to do so, but I’m hoping that won’t matter to you. Here goes…
    “Hey Trace,
    Dave [my husband] and I just watched and read Meg’s speech…and we both are tearing up, with goose bumps! Well done Meg and YOU my friend! Meg’s family and tribe better hang on, because that girl is going to soar…to heights no one can yet imagine! I AM IN AWE! I look so forward to watching the journey Megan is about to begin! It is my honor and my privilege just to watch Meg’s greatness blossom OM F’in G Trace, you raised GREATNESS!”
    Now, back to your book! YOU F’in ROCK Meg.
    Fiat lux,
    Donna J.

    1. Thank you so much Donna! I guess my phone ate my earlier answer to this, but thank you so much! That is one of my favorite sentences right now. MY BOOK. You rock right back. <3

Leave a Reply