I am thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Up and In by the amazing Deborah Disney. I absolutely adored this book and my review will be up later on today, but for now here’s the chance to get to know Deborah just that little bit better as she talks about her debut novel, feeling the pressure to fit in when being a school mum and her hatred of ironing….!
Thanks Holly, it’s so lovely of you to have me! I am a first-time Australian author, with my novel Up and In having been just published by HarperCollins on 1 December 2014.
Can you tell us a bit about your debut novel, Up and In?
I describe it as a humorous look at the seriously bewildering experience of being a school mum. The main character of Up and In, Maria, believes the best thing she can do for her daughters is to give them the best education that money can buy – even though that means that they won’t be able to buy much of anything else for a while. Unfortunately she forgot to budget for the ‘keeping-up-appearances’ levy and finds herself getting all caught up in her efforts to fit in. The group of mothers in the story all have their children playing in the same netball team, so there is an added layer of the crazy antics that take place on the sporting sidelines. It is a fun and easy read, with a conversational style of writing, but there is also an underlying message which I hope doesn’t get missed among the laughs.
I absolutely LOVE the idea behind Up and In. What inspired you to come up with the storyline?
I have been a school mum for eight years now, and I still sometimes find myself feeling bewildered. After talking with friends over the years, whose children are at different schools, and reading more and more about ‘school gate politics’ I thought there was a good story in it, and once I started writing it, I just knew it was going to be something which would resonate with a lot of women.
I am far from a fashionista, but yes – I have certainly fretted on occasion about whether or not I am wearing the right shoes, or if I should have chosen a dress instead of my favourite jeans. I am fortunate at my children’s school that we have ‘drive through’ drop off and pick up and so there is no need for a daily fashion parade.
Are any of the things that happen in Up and In based on any of your own personal experiences?
There are two scenes in Up and In which are based on personal experiences – one in Chapter 4 (which although it happened eight years ago was so embarrassing that it has almost been like therapy for me to put it out into the world) and one in Chapter 12, which still makes my head shake when I think that anyone would ever say something like that. Other than that, the general storyline is fictional – though from the feedback I have been receiving already, it must be close to the actual experiences of a lot of women out there.
How does it feel to have your debut novel released into the big, wide world?
When I met the Publishing Director at HarperCollins for the first time, she said to me, ‘We are so excited to have you on board, Deborah’. My response to her was, ‘Not as excited as I am!!’ It has truly been one of the most exciting experiences of my life.
What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t a writer?
More ironing. I really hate ironing. In fact this whole writing a book thing has just been one long excuse to avoid ironing.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey to publication?
My journey to publication has been so smooth that it borders on the ridiculous. I have been really, really lucky! I started writing my book on the notes app on my iPhone while waiting in the school pick up line towards the end of 2013. That week I was having lunch with a friend and showed it to her. She told me it sounded like Liane Moriarty and that I should send it to a publisher. I know I am going to sound like I must have been living under a rock, but at the time I only vaguely recognised the name. I came home and googled Liane Moriarty Publisher, and HarperCollins came up on the first page of results. It must have been some form of kismet as they are not actually her publisher. I didn’t wait to find that out though and jumped straight to googling HarperCollins. They had just started ‘The Wednesday Post’ which is an online portal for new authors to submit the first three chapters of their work, without the need for an agent. I set about writing three chapters over the next couple of weeks, submitted it, and then two days later received an email saying they wanted to see the whole manuscript. That of course meant that I had to write the whole manuscript! I finally submitted it about six months later – on my 44th birthday in fact, which I had set as my deadline, and a couple of weeks later they told me they wanted to publish it. Almost unbelievable really.
Sara Donovan, Genevieve Gannon and Carla Caruso. These are all ‘chicklit’ authors whom I have come to know through HarperCollins and I love all of their writing. Susan Murphy is also just about to publish her first novel and it looks like it might be a fun read, too. Generally I enjoy chicklit, and the classics, but I also enjoy thrillers. I thought this was a strange combination of tastes but apparently I am not on my own!
And finally – can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?
I have started working on another novel, which is also about a relationship that gets forced upon us – the sibling relationship. Again I am tackling it with humour (at least I think it’s funny) but there are some serious issues being addressed at the same time.
Thank you so much for participating in this interview, Deborah.
Thank YOU so much for having me on your blog, Holly! I really appreciate it – and perfect timing, as Up and In is currently either on a 99 cent promo or $2.99 through Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Googleplay etc
Click here to get your copy…