They say books find you when you need them.
When ‘Confessions of a Once Fashionable Mum’ found me, I was in desperate need of a laugh – and that’s what this book delivered.
Author, Georgia Madden, takes us deep into the cringe-worthy and difficult moments of new motherhood, via the ‘once fashionable’, Ally Bloom.
Ally’s first year of motherhood is an ‘annus horribilis’ – everything that can go wrong, does.
At times, I felt like Georgia had peeked inside my life – and dialled it up by a magnitude of ten. It’s funny, and madcap – but behind the jokes lie some kernels of truth. So, it’s a pleasure to welcome Georgia to the Book Birdy cage.
What made you want to tell the story of Ally Bloom?
That first year of motherhood is such a mammoth, crazy time and I suppose in a way I wanted to make sense of it, in my own head at least. The character of Ally, a woman with very fixed ideas about the kind of mother she’s going to be and then finds herself undone by the realities of it, came to me and I couldn’t let her go. Ally started telling me her stories at the most inconvenient times – at the supermarket checkout, just before I fell asleep at night – so a notebook came in very handy! Ally isn’t me – not the fashionable part, at least – but I could relate to many of the things she goes through, in particular that sense that everyone else seems to have a handle on this whole motherhood thing while she’s floundering on the sidelines.
The book is laugh out loud funny, and your puns are fabulous. Any tips or advice for writing comedy?
So glad you found it funny – thank you! I suppose the main thing for me is not to shy away from the awkward, messy or embarrassing – these seem to be the things most mums could relate to in the book and found amusing. The more cringe-worthy, the better! Also, take a notebook wherever you go. It’s so easy to forget those funny little moments your children and other parents give you, but they’re just the ones you’ll want to capture if you’re writing comedy. And trust your gut; if something makes you laugh, chances are someone else will find it funny too!
Can you tell me about the path to publication for COAOFM?
It was all a bit of an experiment, really. I’d always dreamed of writing a book, but wasn’t sure I had it in me. The last time I wrote fiction was in high school. Once I hit 40, I figured it was time to stop talking about it and actually give it a go. They say to write what you know, so as a mum of two, I figured motherhood was a pretty good place to start. Once I had the character of Ally in my mind, I wrote little bits whenever I could – a paragraph here, a page there. The more I wrote, the more passionate (obsessed?) I became. I finished the first three chapters and sent them out to agents and publishers and was lucky enough to be picked up agent Sally Bird who secured me a deal with Nero, an imprint of Black Inc Books. They gave me a real deadline for a whole, finished book and it all suddenly seemed very real. I was terrified, but the writing and editing process turned out to be fantastically fun. Best year of my life.
Who are your writing influences and why?
I tend to fall in love with whoever I’m reading at the time. I’ve just finished Lena Dunham’s hilarious memoir Not That Kind of Girl, and Eliza Henry Jones’s novel In The Quiet, which was achingly beautiful and stayed with me for days. I have to be really careful not to start (badly) imitating the style of whichever wonderful author I’ve just read.
What’s your writing process? Fast first drafts? Slow, painstaking ones?
I wrote the first draft at breakneck speed simply so I could get to the end and see the story as a whole. I then slowed right down for the next few drafts, filling in gaps, building up characters, and looking for any subplots I might not have spotted in the first or second drafts. I probably wrote about 20 drafts in all. I thought I’d be sick to the back teeth of it by the end, but the latter stages were actually really interesting – it suddenly dawned on me that I’d told an entirely different story than the one I set out to write and, with my editor’s help, hopefully a much better one.
Gosh, that’s a toughie. I love the whole process; the little buzz you get when the seed of a story comes to you, having a legitimate excuse to spend time with the funny little characters in your head, working alongside an editor to carve and refine and tell the story you may not have even known you wanted to tell. Even the tough moments are fun in their own way. There’s also no better way to make peace with some of the more painful or cringe-worthy times of your life – suddenly, they’re comedy gold.
What are you working on now?
I was lucky enough to sign on for another two books with Nero, so I’m busy working on my next one. Motherhood and family are the main themes again (write what you know, eh?). But this time I’m looking a little further down the track.
*For more information on Confessions of a Once Fashionable Mum, or to purchase a copy, visit Black Inc.
Great interview and I love the publishing backstory! I don’t have kids so didn’t think I’d relate to this book but I very much enjoyed it and Georgia’s writing in particular!
Haha! This book does cast an interesting light on motherhood, that’s for sure. And sadly, a lot of it rings kind of true! Cassie
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