Monday 9 February 2015

Author Interview ~ Kerry Fisher.

Today I'm really excited to be sharing my interview with the wonderful Kerry Fisher! Kerry's debut novel The School Gate Survival Guide was one of my favourite reads last year and now she's here to tell us a bit more about it and what's coming next.

Hi Kerry – thanks for joining us! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I write funny, contemporary fiction about ‘real’ women with ordinary lives, who struggle with relationships, children, finances and all the millions of things women need to do to stop their lives descending into chaos! Outside of writing, I am mum to two teenagers, wife to a very tolerant man and owner of a naughty Lab/Giant Schnauzer. And I love cooking!

Can you give us a little insight into your debut novel The School Gate Survival Guide, for those who haven’t read it yet?

It’s a funny novel about school gate snobbery – the story of cleaner, Maia, who receives an inheritance to send her children to a posh private school but has no money to live the lifestyle of the parents. It’s about the gulf between her life of brooms and bailiffs and some of the other mums whose biggest disaster is a delayed Ocado delivery or a smudged pedicure.

When I read The School Gate Survival Guide, what stood out for me was the fantastic host of characters. How much fun were those characters to write and what inspired them?

Clover – the trust fund hippy – was great fun to write – she’s got a generous heart, a fondness for bad language and a total disregard for what anyone thinks about her. Clover is the woman I’d be if I wasn’t worried about embarrassing my children. Maia, the cleaner, is feisty and funny with her observations about what makes up a middle-class life. The kernel of her character came from when I lived in Italy in a very hand-to-mouth fashion, working three different jobs and always worrying about money. I never stood up to my bosses because I needed the work too badly.

Have you had any feedback from your readers about their own school-gate experiences?

The most frequent comment is that they know a ‘Jen1’ – the stuck-up woman who looks down on everyone else, even judging people by the sort of biscuits they bring to a coffee morning. I also often get asked ‘Where can I find a Mr Peters?’ – the gorgeous Head of Upper School.

I’m really fascinated by your journey from being a self-published author to becoming a traditionally-published author. How much does being traditionally-published differ from being self-published?

A major difference is that when I was self-published I only had my own expectations to meet. I have a greater sense of responsibility now as my publishers have had so much faith in me, I would hate to let them down. Being traditionally published has led to an unhealthy obsession with Amazon rankings!

Without the know-how of Avon, HarperCollins behind me, I don’t think I’d ever have managed to get The School Gate Survival Guide stocked in Tesco, Asda and WH Smith. The same goes for foreign rights – my agent has sold my novels to Germany and Brazil and the thought of trying to accomplish that on my own makes me want to hide in a wardrobe.

However, it’s not a question of writing the book and handing it over to the publishers to do the rest, though undoubtedly, it’s a real support to have my editor to discuss ideas with and to benefit from her knowledge of the publishing world. I’m still working just as hard – if not harder - at marketing but being able to say that The School Gate Survival Guide is published by HarperCollins gives me more confidence to approach libraries, writing festivals and book shops.

One thing that hasn’t changed is how embarrassing I find it when people I know tell me they are reading my book!

Now The School Gate Survival Guide is published by Avon; Harper Collins, I would assume you get to hear a lot of feedback from your readers and excitedly spot it sitting out on actual shop shelves. I’ve also just spotted it’s picked up over 200 five star reviews on Amazon UK. What’s the one thing you love the most about being a published writer?

Without a shadow of a doubt, hearing from the lovely readers who take the time to contact me on Facebook or write reviews on Amazon/Goodreads. I had one woman write to tell me she has rheumatoid arthritis but for the time she was reading my book, she got so involved in the story that she forgot about her pain. I was really touched by that.

What advice would you give to any aspiring writers reading this?

Unless you are a genius, you’ll need to learn how to write a novel – take creative writing courses, go to workshops, listen to authors speak. Commit to writing a certain number of words every day. Accept rejection is part of the process (It was part of my process for five years!) Come to terms with the fact that you’ll have to believe in yourself for a long time before anyone else does – that might include friends and family. Don’t take it personally. Be generous-spirited and network like mad anywhere that you can meet other authors and agents.

I’m really looking forward to your second book being released later this year.

Hot off the press news is that my new novel is going to be released on 21 May but the title is yet to be confirmed. When I was writing it, I thought of it as the story of whether one woman’s marriage can survive her best friend’s divorce but more broadly, it’s a novel about how our lives never turn out the way we think they will when we project forward aged twenty!

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m just coming to the end of book three – it’s a story about how keeping a secret can be worse than telling the truth. The main characters live in fear of being judged by others and their secret becomes bigger and more toxic as it passes down the generations.

Do you get a lot of time to read in between your writing? Any great books you’ve read recently that you can recommend?

I don’t watch TV (except Downton!) so I sit in the kitchen with the dog reading most nights while my teens watch all manner of rubbish. I’ve read some fabulous books - most recently, The Judas Scar by Amanda Jennings, The Lie of You by Jane Lythell, The Missing One by Lucy Atkins, The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman, Mesmeris by Karen Coles, The Broken by Tamar Cohen…

You’re about to wake up to a tweet from an author to tell you they’ve read and loved The School Gate Survival Guide. Who’d be the dream author to send you that tweet?

I am a huge fan of all JoJo Moyes’ books – she’s brave and versatile in the subjects she covers. I saw her speak at the York Festival of Writing and she was so down to earth and modest despite her huge success. I would be absolutely thrilled if she loved my book.

Title: The School Gate Survival Guide.
Author: Kerry Fisher.
Publisher: Avon.

Purchase: Amazon UK

Maia is a cleaner for ladies who lunch. With mops and buckets in tow, she spends her days dashing from house to house cleaning up after them, as they rush from one exhausting Pilates class to the next.

But an unusual inheritance catapults her and her children into the very exclusive world of Stirling Hall School – a place where no child can survive without organic apricots and no woman goes a week without a manicure.

As Maia and her children, Bronte and Harley, try to settle into their new life, Maia is inadvertently drawn to the one man who can help her family fit in. But is his interest in her purely professional? And will it win her any favours at the school gate?

A hilarious, straight-talking read for anyone who's ever despaired at the politics of the school run.


  1. Another great interview. You research the authors and seem to know a lot about them. It's refreshing.

  2. Thank you so much for featuring me on your blog, Sophie….lovely to be here and great questions! x


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