Skip to main content

Christina Sweeney-Baird: Exploring Gender Dynamics With Speculative Fiction

Debut author Christina Sweeney-Baird shares what inspired her to write her speculative fiction novel The End of Men and how humor links all genres.

Christina Sweeney-Baird is the author of The End of Men, her debut novel, which is being published in 18 territories. The film rights have sold to a major TV studio. She graduated from the University of Cambridge with a law degree in 2015 and lives in London. She is working on her second novel.

Christina Sweeney-Baird

Christina Sweeney-Baird

In this post, Sweeney-Baird shares what inspired her to write her speculative fiction novel The End of Men, how humor links all genres, and more!

****

Short Story Fundamentals

Whether you are a writing novice looking to cut your teeth or a published professional, the short story is a unique and challenging medium that offers you amazing opportunities. Also, short stories are a great way to gain publishing credentials with less time investment than it takes to develop a novel-length work. The workshop covers structure and the common pitfalls writers experience when crafting a short story.

Click to continue.
****

Name: Christina Sweeney-Baird
Literary agent: Alexandra Machinist (ICM)/Felicity Blunt (Curtis Brown)
Book title: The End of Men
Publisher: Putnam (US), Doubleday (Canada), Borough (UK)
Release date: April 27, 2021
Genre: Speculative Fiction
Elevator pitch for the book: A pandemic to which women are immune kills 90 percent of the world’s men. The End of Men follows a cast of characters around the world as they try to protect their families, find a cure, and rebuild the world.

The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird

The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird

IndieBound | Bookshop | Amazon
[WD uses affiliate links.]

What prompted you to write this book?

In early 2018, I read The Power and it opened my eyes to using speculative fiction as a way to explore gender dynamics. I remember having the idea not long after and going, "Oh, I want to read that book; hang on, I need to write that book?" I wanted to explore in a hyper-realistic way what the world would look like without the vast majority of men; how would it feel for women keeping their fathers and sons and husbands and friends safe? What industries would change? How would the world react?

(114 Fiction Sub-Genre Descriptions for Writers)

How long did it take to go from idea to publication? 

I had the idea in Spring 2018 and started writing The End of Men on September 1, 2018. I remember the date very clearly because I was working on the first novel I finished (but which was never published—a historical novel) until the end of August. I was determined to finish one manuscript before starting anything new. The first draft took around nine months, finishing in early June. I signed with my agent, Felicity, in August 2019 and then completely rewrote the novel in Autumn 2019 with her edits and careful guidance. The book sold in January 2020 to publishers and is being published in April 2021. From first day of writing to publication, about 21/2 years.

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title? 

The editing process with my agent, Felicity, was a huge learning moment. I completely trusted her from our first meeting—she was so positive about the book and also had such great ideas about how we could make it better. The first draft of The End of Men—which she signed me with—had over 40 perspectives and a lot of world-building but not enough character engagement. So throughout the rewrite, we culled the perspectives down to the key characters and created a new character, Catherine, who is now the heart of the book and completely essential to the story. I learned so much about writing something gripping and urgent and emotional in the course of that rewrite, whilst still maintaining a richly drawn world.

(How to Write Scientific Fiction: Analyzing Carl Sagan’s “Contact”)

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book? 

I think how important humor is to every genre. It might sound odd to think of that for a speculative novel with a pandemic but especially when you're writing about difficult and challenging topics—like grief, death, and the fear of illness—there have to be bubbles of humor. In real life, that's how people cope and it means the reader can keep reading without the story feeling unremittingly bleak.

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

I hope they feel connected to the characters, that it makes them laugh and cry and that they can fully believe the alternative I've built. The End of Men is a dystopian story, not a utopian one, so I think it can also show the importance of men alongside men, whilst shining a light on the changes some areas of society sorely need.

Christina Sweeney-Baird: Exploring Gender Dynamics With Speculative Fiction

If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?

To be consistent. Consistent with writing and reading. I use a writing tracker which I keep in a bullet journal and it's so important. It wasn't until I started treated writing as a daily, non-negotiable practice that I managed to finish a manuscript. And reading is so essential to allow the writing to develop and, more practically, to be able to pitch your novel to agents. You need to understand the area of the market your book will fit into.

10 Tips on Covering Events as a Freelance Journalist

10 Tips on Covering Events as a Freelance Journalist

From planning ahead to staying late, Alison Hill shares 10 tips for journalists while covering events as a freelancer.

From Script

Character Studies, Writing the Immigrant Experience, and Six Adaptation Steps Before You Adapt a Book (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, navigate different character study approaches in your writing, and tracking emotional journeys.

Lora Senf: On Trusting Children With Middle Grade Fiction

Lora Senf: On Trusting Children With Middle Grade Fiction

Author Lora Senf discusses how one chilling text message led her to writing her new middle grade horror novel, The Clackity.

Katrina Leno: On Writing Around an Idea

Katrina Leno: On Writing Around an Idea

Critically acclaimed novelist Katrina Leno discusses the process of bringing her childhood memories to magical life in her new young adult novel, Sometime in Summer.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: A New Podcast Episode, "Your Story" Prompt, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce our latest episode of "Writer's Digest Presents," the new "Your Story" prompt, and more!

Writer's Digest Best Live Streams, Podcasts, and YouTube Channels 2022

Writer's Digest Best Live Streams, Podcasts, and YouTube Channels 2022

Here are the top live streams, podcasts, and YouTube channels as identified in the 24th Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

What Is Fan Fiction in Writing?

What Is Fan Fiction in Writing?

You might have heard the term, especially if you’re in online fandoms, but what exactly is fan fiction? Managing Editor Moriah Richard explains.

5 Ways To Use Short Stories To Grow as a Writer

5 Ways To Use Short Stories To Grow as a Writer

Short story writing can be a gateway to writing your novel—but they’re also fun and worthy stories in their own right. Here, author Dallas Woodburn shares 5 ways to use short stories to grow as a writer.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Having an Online Presence

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Having an Online Presence

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is not having an online presence.