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Author Lucy Caldwell on baby's brush with death

By Lisa Smyth

Published 10/05/2016

Experience: Lucy Caldwell
Experience: Lucy Caldwell

Belfast-born author Lucy Caldwell has spoken of the trauma of rushing her newborn son to hospital when he fell ill with a life-threatening condition.

The award-winning author and playwright said her only son's brush with death was the moment when she realised she was a writer. William was just nine days old when he developed septicaemia. Living in London, Lucy and her husband Tom took William to a hospital in Whitechapel.

William recovered, but the deadly illness returned 10 days later. William was seven weeks old before he was finally allowed to go home.

"You assume your baby will be born and it will be fine. You'll have sleepless nights and you'll muddle through," she said.

"Then you see how quickly things go wrong and how thin the veil is that separates you between life and death. Somehow, it was a moment that I realised I was a writer."

Lucy spoke as her collection of short stories, Multitudes, was published last week, and the experience of almost losing her child features in the book.

"I found I was writing this story at 3am when I was breastfeeding. I was juggling him, standing up, typing bursts on my iPhone," she said. "I wrote that story with such urgency. It was a reminder of my experience."

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