I sat down with Fiona, computer to computer, back in January when her publication house kindly sent me a uncorrected proof copy of her new book, Take Mum Out.
Q. What was your inspiration for the new book?
A. Although I’ve written lots about being a mum of young children, I’ve never really tackled the teenage years before and thought it would be fun to delve into that. Also, I was drawn to the idea of a baking theme – Alice, my main character, has a meringue-making business – as it’s hugely popular now. My daughter and I are addicted to Bake Off. I also liked the idea of writing about growing older, and tiptoeing back into the dating world as a proper grownup. It seemed like there’d be loads of potential for humour.
Q. What can your faithful and new readers expect?
A. With each book, I try to do something fresh. So, although parenting still features – which crops up in all of my books – it’s a departure for me to write about a woman who’s trying to juggle being a good mum, with her own desire to have a life of her own, and meet someone new after being single for many years. The teenage years were great fun to write about. Although my own teenagers have banned me from writing about them in magazines, I can’t resist occasionally fictionalising little incidents which have happened in my own family. So there’s lots of ‘us’ in this book – but don’t tell my kids that!
Q. How has social media changed your writing career?
A. Yes, in that it’s helped me to engage with readers, which I love. Writing can be horrible solitary, and twitter and facebook are like my office, in a way. Also, social media helps a writer to feel in touch with what’s going on in the world, in a way that reading a daily paper can’t. Facebook friends can also be incredibly generous in sharing their thoughts, opinions and suggestions, which can really help with research and figuring out plotlines.
Q. What is your favourite line from Take Mum Out?
A. ‘What d’you want a boyfriend for? You’re a mum!’ For me, it shows how the typical teenage boy views his mother! ie – not quite a human being in her own right.
Q. Finally, what can we expect next?
A. I’m writing a book which focuses on the hormonally-challenged mum-teenage-daughter relationship, and dips into the fashion world.