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Publication date: March 2017
110% funded
302 backers
Cover of Dead Babies and Seaside Towns

A compelling memoir of stillbirth, surrogacy and seaside towns

How far would you go in order to have a baby? Is surrogacy morally acceptable? If you need a surrogate and an egg donor how do you find them? Can you bring a surrogate baby from America into the UK legally?

Ten years ago I had never considered any of these questions – but when our second child was stillborn and all our attempts to have another baby were failing, we started to consider every possible option, no matter how unorthodox.

My memoir – Dead Babies and Seaside Towns – is the story of that period of our lives and of our relationship with two extraordinary American women who offered to make the impossible possible.

It is a book about motherhood, grief, infertility, alternative ways to create a family - and my odd love affair with Britain’s crumbling seaside towns. It is a sad book but I hope it is also beautiful and funny.

The events which it recounts are, of course, personal but I firmly believe that there is a real sense in which our story is every family’s story. The loss of a baby, infertility, miscarriages, alternative families – these issues are all around us, every day, even if many keep them hidden.

And that is partly why I’ve written this book. Because stillbirths and surrogacy are amongst the last great taboos of family life and I want them to be discussed more openly.

In particular, there is no book anywhere that tells the nuts and bolts story of a surrogate pregnancy. Instead people rely on information from the tabloids, much of which is wrong. By telling my story honestly, I want to lay the facts on the table and give you – the reader – the opportunity to form your own view.

I am also writing this memoir because I want to raise money for SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity)* – an important and often neglected charity. 17 babies are stillborn in the UK every day – a much higher figure than in many other comparable countries. If we don’t talk about stillbirths – however painful that may be – then nothing will change.

I hope very much that you will support this book. If you do, then you will be helping SANDS to reduce the number of stillbirths and you will receive a beautiful copy of a good book.

*Once the initial subscription has been raised then my share of the profits (50% of every book sold) will go to SANDS. In addition to a list of subscribers, this book will also contain a Memorial list. If you would like to include the name and date(s) of someone you have lost we will contact subscribers for details before the book goes to press.

Alice Jolly is a novelist, playwright and teacher of creative writing. Her two novels (What The Eye Doesn’t See and If Only You Knew) are both published by Simon and Schuster. She is completing a third novel. Her articles have been published in the Guardian, the Mail on Sunday and the Independent and she has broadcast on Radio 4. Four of her plays have been professionally produced by The Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham. Two of these plays were funded by The Arts Council. Her monologues have been performed in London and provincial theatres and she has recently been commissioned by Paines Plough (‘The National Theatre of New Writing’). She teaches for The Arvon Foundation and on the Oxford University Master’s Degree in Creative Writing. She has lived in Warsaw and in Brussels. She has three children - a son who is twelve, a daughter who was stillborn and a daughter who was born to a surrogate mother in the United States. Her home is now in Stroud in Gloucestershire and she is married to Stephen Kinsella.

It began in a house in North London - one of those toppling, red brick terraced houses, stacked up tight against each other in the streets above Gospel Oak. We were staying with friends for the weekend and that morning we walked to a playground on the edge of Hampstead Heath. My husband, Stephen, pushed our son, two-year-old Thomas, on swings and stood beside metal-runged ladders, guiding wavering, wellington-booted feet.

It was warm for March and yet I sat on a bench shivering in two jumpers, a coat, scarves, boots and gloves. I was nearly three months pregnant with our second child. My stomach rolled and heaved, my lips were dry, my mouth tasted sour and even the wind on my face felt like an assault. I longed for time to sweep me on, past twelve weeks of pregnancy, as I knew that then the sand-paper-rawness and nagging sickness might end.

After we came back from the Heath, our friends Martin and Sarah cooked us a proper Sunday lunch – lamb, roast potatoes, buttery cabbage - which we ate amidst the half finished building work in their kitchen. I pushed down two plates despite the nausea. A taxi had been called to take us to the Eurostar at Waterloo station. From there we would travel back to our home in Brussels.


We won the Pen / Ackerley Prize 2016

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Dear All,

I think that most of you will already have heard this news.  But just in case ........

At the award ceremony I was very happy to be able to thank all of you kind people who supported the book.

It has been a long struggle ....... but definitely worth it…

Shortlisted for the Pen / Ackerley Prize 2016

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Dear All,

Just to let you know that Dead Babies And Seaside Towns has just been shortlisted for the Pen / Ackerley Award 2016.

The details are here:

This is hugely exciting and it would not have happened without your support.  Unbound reckon that readers are as good at selecting books as editors in publishing houses - this…

Update - and new novel 'Between The Regions Of Kindness'

Friday, 18 March 2016

Dear All,


I am sorry not to have been in touch sooner.  Ever since Dead Babies And Seaside Towns was published in July I have been busy - mainly with the huge amount of publicity which the book received.  Most of that publicity was generated by the amazing Amy Winchester at Unbound.


For those who might have missed some of this the book was in The Times, The Independent, The FT, The…

See you at the launch tonight (and publicity)

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Dear Everyone,

Despite possible travel difficulties, the launch is very definitely going ahead (Wednesday, 8th July) from 7 - 9 pm at the London Review Bookshop, 14 Bury Place (just near the British Museum).  Look forward to seeing you there.

Also I just wanted to let you know that the book was featured in the Independent today and has been in Prima Magazine, Woman and Home and Woman's Own.…

You Magazine - and last chance to sign up!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Dear Shed Dwellers,


Just to let you know that the book was featured in You Magazine on Easter Sunday.  The link is here:


The book was also one of the Editor's Picks in The Bookseller last week and The Bookseller willl also be following up with an interview in May.



Up to 97%. Publication date 2 July!

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Dear Shed Dwellers,


I am now up to 97%.  Thank you so, so much to everyone who has subscribed.  It is worth mentioning that people can still subscribe once I am past 100% and they will still get their name in the back of the book - although there is a cut off point when that is no longer possible.  You'll get an e-mail warning you of the cut off date.


I went to meet Unbound last week…

In the Daily Mail today!

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Dear Shed Dwellers,

Happy New Year!  Just to let you know that I am in the Daily Mail today with my daughter Hope.  

I have to say I'm not a great fan of the Daily Mail but I am very grateful for the publicity.  Also the people who took the photogpraphs were absolutely lovely and incredibly professional.  They spent so long sprucing me up that you won't actually recognise me.  The camera does…

Very exciting news! Just won prize!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Dear Shed Dwellers,


I am up to 72 % ...... and I have just been awarded the V.S. Pritchett Memorial Prize for 2014 by The Royal Society of Literature.  I went to the award ceremony in London last night.  The judges were Dame Margaret Drabble, Tibor Fischer and Helen Oyememi.

A.L. Kennedy read one of her stories and I then read mine (which is called Ray The Rottweiler).

You can find details…

Lovely review by Isabel Costello of The Literary Sofa (and up to 61%)

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Dear Shed Dwellers,


Am glad to note that it is getting pretty cosy in this shed .......

Just thought I'd send you a link for a review of my book which was written by Isabel Costello of The Literary Sofa.  (My blog post is above, her review is below).…

I am over 50%!! Thank you!!

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Dear Shed Dwellers,


Yesterday was  big day because I reached the 50% mark.  That means that I've raised over £6,000 in less than six weeks - and all this for a book which is not (let's face it) about the easiest subject.

Thank you all so, so much.  As the pledges come in, I keep thinking that I will e-mail each person personally to thank them.  And I do want to do that.  But actually I…

Up to 37%. Thank you so, so much!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Dear Shed Dwellers,


I have reached 37%.  I was going to send a message when I had reached a handy round number (like 35%) but the numbers have moved so fast over the last few days that I missed my moment!

I have been doing all sorts of things to promote the book.  Below is an article which apeared on Mumsnet.…

Thank you all so much!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Dear Shed Dwellers,


Just a quick post to say a huge THANK YOU to the 106 people who have subscribed to my book so far.  It is lovely to see so many names that I know and equally to see so many that I don't.  I'm very confident that I'm going to get to 100% and am looking forward to the book being published in spring.  You all definitely invited to the party!  The book is largely written but…

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