The plot of “Delicate Condition” is described on its back cover as indeed being about an actress named Anna Alcott who stars in independent movies and is indeed attempting to get pregnant via in vitro fertilization. Anna fears someone is hiding her injections — medicine, it seems, is going missing with alarming frequency — and is deliberately stopping her from having a baby. Eventually, Anna is told she’s miscarried her baby, which is alarming news to her, as she can still feel something growing and moving around inside of her. All of the spider-like imagery in “Delicate” TV ad campaigns might lead one to think that she is pregnant with a spider monster, although the spider may just be a metaphor.
EW talked to Valentine who called her novel a horror story about pregnancy, a notoriously fraught time in a mother’s life. She said:
“It’s a novel exploring not just the actual physical gruesomeness of what pregnancy is, but also the medical gaslighting that even modern, very privileged women experience as they’re going through their pregnancies and the symptoms that I feel we as a culture still don’t talk about for strange reasons.”
When asked if she took inspiration from Levin’s “Rosemary’s Baby,” one of the more famous horror stories of a terrifying journey of pregnancy, Valentine said she preferred to think of “Delicate Condition” as comparable to Ridley Scott’s 1979 film “Alien,” a film about a killer creature that incubates inside the abdomen of a human host before bursting out. The parallels to the body horror of pregnancy are quite clear.
Valentine, though, wanted to set the record straight, as “Alien” was made by cis men.