This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Journalist and first-time novelist Georgia Madden is in the house today sharing the inspiration behind Confessions of a Once Fashionable Mum and what surprised her most about the publishing process. Welcome, Georgia!
It’s a tongue-in-cheek tale about the joys and horrors of the first year of motherhood – the tears, the pooh, the love, the exhaustion, and that weird feeling of not quite knowing who you are anymore now that you’re somebody’s mother. The story follows yummy mummy wannabe Ally Bloom as she struggles to find her feet on the suburban SAHM circuit.
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Where do you find inspiration for your books?
I’m mum to two children and have spent the last few years happily cruising the mummy circuit, so much of the story was inspired by real life. There are little bits of me in Ally (sadly, none of the fashionable ones) – I can certainly relate to some of the struggles she faces trying to adjust to life as somebody’s parent and somebody’s wife, and that horrible sense of walking into playgroup for the first time and thinking that every mum in the room has this whole parenthood business sussed but you.
Can you tell us about your average writing day?
Writing fiction is very much my ‘me time,’ so it has to fit in around family, the kids and my freelance job as an interiors journalist. The end of the day when the kids are in bed is my favourite time to write – and a couple of glasses of wine certainly get the ideas flowing. But really, I’ll do it whenever I can, whether it’s on the sidelines at my kids’ swimming lessons, jotting down ideas on the back of the shopping list while I’m waiting at the checkout, or on a quiet Sunday afternoon when they’re all watching a movie.
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction Book of all time and why?
Too many to count! But two that stuck in my mind for a long time afterwards were Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones and Lionel Shriver’s We Need To Talk About Kevin. Both big, brave stories and so beautifully told.
What female writer has inspired you?
Liane Moriarty. I love how she casts a spotlight on the lives of ordinary women, and so skillfully balances the light and dark moments.
What books have you been recommending recently?
Emily Bitto’s The Strays and Sarai Walker’s Dietland.
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
I’d love to be the sort of writer who just dives right in and sees where the story takes me, but quite honestly, the thought terrifies me. I spend a lot of time getting to know the characters in my head before I start writing – what sort of food do they eat? What do their Friday nights look like? What was their most embarrassing moment at high school? Once I know them well enough, their stories pretty much tell themselves. I plot the chapters out on index cards, which I stick to a pinboard that’s propped on a chair next to my desk. But really, the pinboard is more of a confidence booster – when I get stuck into the writing, I barely give it a glance.One of the biggest surprises to me was just how many drafts a novel goes through before it’s ready for publication. I lost count of the number of versions of Confessions I wrote, but it would be well into the twenties. It was worth it though – I learnt so much along the way, and each draft was just that little bit better than the last.
I’d always wanted to try my hand at fiction, but never quite found the courage.
Confessions was my first real attempt. I loved the character of Ally and the story she had to tell, but I wasn’t sure if I had it in me to write a whole book. But once I got started, I couldn’t stop – why had no-one ever told me how much fun it could be?!
About three chapters in, I reached out to a few agents and publishers, and was surprised to get a bit of interest back. I signed with my wonderful agent Sally Bird at the Calidris Literary Agency, who got me to write a few more chapters, which she then sent out to publishers. Black Inc, a small publishing house in Melbourne, was one of them. They loved it and wanted to know if I could have the first draft completed in five months’ time. After climbing back down from the ceiling I said Yes, I thought that sounded do-able. Those five months were amazing – I was riding high on the wave of a real live publishing deal, and felt incredibly blessed.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
I’m only very new to the game, so I’m not sure how qualified I am to be doling out advice. But here’s what worked for me: get that first draft down as quickly as you can and try not to edit (too much) as you go along. There will be plenty of opportunity to fine tune those sentences later on when you’re on your second, third, nineteenth draft. And try not to be too hard at yourself. Chances are, most of the books you love looked nothing like their final version on the first, second or even fifth draft. The good stuff comes later when you’re in the flow and least expecting it.