Going Viral with Helen Fitzgerald – All the bases then and now…


I was lucky enough to read Viral recently, it is a mind blowing novel full of social relevance, hard hitting with brilliantly drawn characters you’ll love to hate to love. It comes highly recommended from me, if you havent read it yet then do – in the meantime I am  VERY happy to welcome Helen to the blog to talk a little about, well, 5th base….


5th Base – Helen Fitzgerald

At fifteen, when a cute boy called Craig asked me if I wanted to go for a walk by the lake with him, I was aware that there were four bases altogether:

1st BASE: French kissing 2nd BASE: Above the waist 3rd BASE: Below the waist 4th BASE: Home run

As we left the roller-disco and headed to the lake, I was excited. Craig was older than me, a catch, and I was about to get to first base with him. Possibly second. (I was a guilt-ridden catholic girl back then). All right, all right, I might have been about to let him reach third.

Definitely not fourth.

In 1981 as Craig and I sat down together on the grass by the lake, there were only four bases for me to think about, worry about, get excited about.

But now, there’s another one…

5th Base: The Photoshoot.

It’s naughty and it’s sexy and it makes you feel gorgeous. The intimacy and the connection! He’s looking at you as if you are better at this than anyone; as if you are the most beautiful woman in the world. Oh, goddess! Ah, gorgeous! Click. That’s it. Let’s keep this going. Record. Oh my god! He worships you. He knows you. And you know him. You must know him, no? Because you have reached fifth base.

I did not know Craig.

And you do not know your Craig.

You don’t know him till he’s finished. You don’t know him till you’ve gone your separate ways after that amazing night, that brief fling. You don’t know him till you’ve had your first argument; or till you’ve had your last.

You do not know him till you log on one morning, yawning, happy, sleepy-eyed, and there you are. There is your moment, that glorious moment that you shared with him. He is now sharing it with the world.

My thing with Craig lasted about a week. When it was over, he told a few of his mates that we’d reached fourth base by the lake the night of the roller-disco, which was a lie. Craig, it turned out, was a turd. I suffered a range of insults from the boys on the bus in the weeks that followed – FitzGerald is a slut etcetera – but that’s where it stopped. Thank God. But if I was 15 now; feeling excited and sexually empowered with a cute older boy like Craig, chances are his phone would’ve come out. Chances are, he could have ruined my life.

When I sat down to write Viral, it wasn’t illegal in the UK to disclose private sexual images without consent. I decided my story would tackle a life-ruining violation that should be a crime, but wasn’t yet; the law scrabbling to keep up with technology.

By the time I finished the book, revenge pornography had become illegal in England and Wales under the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 and – thankfully – offenders can now get up to two years in jail. We are still waiting in Scotland, but a similar law on revenge pornography should be in place soon.

But what about “involuntary” pornography? Revenge porn covers those photographs or films which are taken in private and are usually published by someone you know with intent to cause distress. What if some bystander films you being drunk and stupid in a bar – as happens with my character, Su, in Viral? If you’re filmed in public, you have no legitimate expectation of privacy. And there’s no “revenge” element, you’re just being filmed and shared for’entertainment. Sorry, Su, but you are on your own.

Lives are continuing to be shattered by revenge and involuntary pornography. The new laws are a step in the right direction, but we have a long way to go.

So if you find yourself heading to fifth base with a gorgeous boy like Craig – a boy who worships you, gets you, is so turned on by you that the moment must be preserved – my suggestion is that you take a second to think (the way you hopefully do about finding a condom), grab the phone from him, and hurl it in the lake.

About the book:


So far, twenty-three thousand and ninety six people have seen me online. They include my mother, my father, my little sister, my grandmother, my other grandmother, my grandfather, my boss, my sixth year Biology teacher and my boyfriend James.

When Leah Oliphant-Brotheridge and her adopted sister Su go on holiday together to Magaluf to celebrate their A-levels, only Leah returns home. Her successful, swotty sister remains abroad, humiliated and afraid: there is an online video of her, drunkenly performing a sex act in a nightclub. And everyone has seen it.

Ruth Oliphant-Brotheridge, mother of the girls, successful court judge, is furious. How could this have happened? How can she bring justice to these men who took advantage of her dutiful, virginal daughter? What role has Leah played in all this? And can Ruth find Su and bring her back home when Su doesn’t want to be found?

You can purchase Viral by clickety clicking HERE

Follow Helen on Twitter HERE

or visit her website HERE

Happy Reading Folks!

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