With the launch of her debut novel 'The Anti-Ageing of Harmony Richards', Fiona Collins is an author to watch, and I was delighted when she agreed to be interviewed. Here's what she had to say:
Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I’m a new writer. I’m married with three children and live in a draughty old farmhouse in the Essex countryside, although I confess I’m more of a high heels and handbags kind of girl than a wellies and wet dog one. I have been a stay-at-home mum for the past twelve years, but in my distant past I have been a television and radio presenter, a scriptwriter and an ‘extra’, as well as an easily-distracted temporary member of staff in various jobs including hospital laundry worker, vacuum cleaner demonstrator and waitress in a Japanese restaurant. Oh, and I once went to university, about two hundred and fifty years ago.
What are you reading at the present?
Love and Devotion by Erica James. I thought the story might be a little sad for me, but I’m enjoying it. She is an excellent writer. I’m also currently re-reading all the Roald Dahl books with my seven year old son.
What is the title of your book?
My debut novel is The Anti-Ageing of Harmony Richards.
What is it about?
My novel is about Harmony Richards, a forty-five year old wife and mother who discovers that the unromantic husband she adores only proposed to her thirteen years ago because he was dumped by his One That Got Away. This ex-fiancee turns out to be not only much younger and prettier than her, but back in town to throw Harmony’s life into a tailspin. The novel explores what it feels like to be insecure in a marriage and have your looks, which you’ve relied on for so long, start to fade, particularly in the face of a stunning, younger rival. It’s about ageing. It’s about finding value in yourself again. It’s also about how delicious flirting with a younger man can be, when Harmony meets personal trainer, Blake.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does she do that is so special?
Harmony is quite a complex character. She can be feisty and an outrageous flirt, at the same time she’s lacking in confidence, generally, and completely dampened down by her role as wife and mother. Once Melissa arrives on the scene, Harmony’s life takes off on an unexpected and slightly unhinged tangent: in stalking her rival she undertakes a series of eyebrow-raising beauty treatments, she starts the wrong-on-so-many-levels flirtation with Blake, but she also, fairly accidentally, gets a job – something she is surprised to find she really enjoys.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I suppose it’s that age is only a number. There is still fun to be had and new challenges to embrace, whatever your age. It’s also that there’s more to life than marriage and motherhood: YOU are still in there somewhere! And for younger women, make the most of your youth but don’t dread your forties – they can actually be very empowering.
What was the biggest challenge during writing this novel?
I found this novel just rattled out of me like a runaway train. I really enjoyed steering that train in the direction I wanted it to go and I loved writing it. So to be honest, my biggest challenge was keeping the writing of it secret to friends and family. I wasn’t sure if I would ever publish it so I didn’t tell anyone. This meant lots of writing on the toilet in a locked bathroom (lid down!) and frantically scribbling things on bits of paper and shoving them in my knicker drawer!
Who designed your book cover?
Pixel Studio via Fiverr.com. An absolute bargain and I love my cover!
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on a new novel about a single mum who, the first to admit she’s never really done much with her life, finds it transformed when she strikes up an unlikely friendship on the school run with an older, female rock star who was huge in the 80s. I’m cooking up lots of adventure and romance for my reluctant heroine who may find herself stepping into the spotlight of her own life for the very first time…
Do you see writing as a career?
I would love writing to be my career!
Why do you write?
I love it. For me, it’s just enormous fun. I write when my children are at school and although I may turn up for the afternoon school run looking rather dazed and confused after writing for six hours straight, I have a big, satisfied smile on my face. I also find it tremendously gratifying to put all the mad, random thoughts that whizz round my brain down on paper.
What are your writing habits?
Drop the kids off at school, throw some washing into the machine, flick a duster around then write, write, write! I write on my laptop at the kitchen table in complete silence, interrupted by the occasional meow from my cat or the rumble of my tummy.
Which writers inspire you?
I am a massive chick lit fan. I love Adele Parks, Jane Fallon and Sophie Kinsella. The more you read, the better you write, so I try to mainline as much chick lit and contemporary women’s fiction as I can. When I fancy something different, my more literary hero is Graham Greene.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
I’m new. I don’t feel qualified to give any! But I’m always happy to receive it :-)
I'd like to thank Fiona for her time, and if she's piqued your interest check out her book below:
Link to The Anti-Ageing of Harmony Richards on Amazon:
@FionaJaneBooks on Twitter