I am delighted to welcome the lovely Kristen Bailey on the blog today, having met her at her scrumptious book launch for Second Helpings only a few days ago.
Mother-of-four, gin-drinker, binge-watcher, receipt hoarder, hapless dog owner, enthusiastic but terrible cook, Kristen lives in Fleet, Hampshire in a house overrun by Lego and odd socks. Her debut novel, Souper Mum was released by Accent Press in June and its sequel, Second Helpings was released on 17th November.
Welcome, Kristen. Tell us a little bit about you…
Hi – my name is Kristen. I’m 36, a mum of four, a lover of all things yellow and a writer of contemporary women’s fiction. At the moment, I write novels that I hope take a humorous look at families and modern life. Souper Mum was published by Accent Press back in June and the sequel, Second Helpings is out now!
Your inspiration for Second Helpings?
To be honest, it was quite interesting for me to see where Jools’ story would go next after Souper Mum. Up to that point, Jools had been a stay-at-home mum but now I liked how her role in her family had changed – she’s now a working mum and trying to figure out this new role in life. I also wanted to examine more of the relationships in her life – her friendships in particular and the relationship she has with her nemesis, Tommy McCoy.
What’s the hardest thing about writing a sequel?
For this book it was all about the timing! I had spent five years writing Souper Mum so had that luxury of being to write and edit when I wanted. I think I wrote Second Helpings in about eight-nine months. Time was against me. I remember I used to map out chapters at the leisure centre while my kids were having their swimming lessons.
Where and when do you write?
Family life makes writing during the day a near impossibility so I write during the evenings and usually into the night. Many a time my husband comes to find me at 1am to tell me to go to sleep. I write in our box room surrounded by cardboard boxes and shelves of very old and dusty CDs that my husband and I can’t bear to throw away.
Are you a planner or a pantser?
I love this question! I’m very much a pantser! I remember when I was in my mid-twenties, I thought I had love and life completely mapped out. Then I met my now husband, fell pregnant and since have had the craziest ten years of my life – all unplanned. Becoming a writer was a huge part of that and I think that is reflected in how I write too. I like to approach first drafts, full throttle and let stories develop organically. I then edit and re-map things further down the line.
Do you do any research?
I am lucky in that anything I have had to research, TV production/ cookery, I’ve only had to look to family members who work in those industries. Souper Mum and Second Helpings are very much drawn from real life parenting experiences as well and I do love to follow bloggers/writers who write about these misadventures of motherhood too. The Unmumsy Mum and Hurrah for Gin are my two favourites.
Do you read inside your genre or out when writing?
I read across the board, all the time. For me, it’s not about the genre but the joy of well-drawn characters and a story that really holds your attention. You can find this in crime, sci-fi, romance, YA and I think reading other people’s styles can only help you as an author yourself.
Your author heroes?
Roald Dahl was the first author I read as a child who lit a spark in me to write and create stories. Maya Angelou, David Nicholls, Jane Austen and Haruki Murakami are also huge influences to me.
Thank you, Kristen, for joining us today.
Souper Mum is the story of Jools Campbell, a stay-at-home mother of four, who becomes an unlikely foodie hero when she stands up to a pompous celebrity chef, Tommy McCoy on a reality show. Armed with fish fingers and a severely limited cooking repertoire, we watch as she becomes a reluctant celebrity and learns some important life lessons about love, family and the joyless merits of quinoa.
In Second Helpings, we find Jools has returned to the celebrity cooking world. She takes on the role as a judge on a family cooking show, Little Chefs but is aghast to find her fellow judge is none other than her old nemesis, Tommy McCoy. How will she juggle now being a working mum? How will she deal with Second Helpings of McCoy and the all too familiar media intrusion into her life?