Fiona Gibson is an author and journalist who has written for many UK publications including ‘The Observer’, ‘The Guardian’,'Marie Claire’, ‘Red’, ‘New Woman’, ‘Top Sante’ and ‘Elle’. She writes a monthly column for Sainsbury’s magazine and is a Contributing Editor at ‘Red’ magazine. Fiona lives in Scotland with her husband, their twin sons and daughter. ‘Pedigree Mum’ is her eighth novel.
- Your latest book,’Pedigree Mum’tells the story of piano teacher Kerry who moves to the seaside town of Shorling hoping for th e perfect life, but instead things drastically fall apart. What inspired you to write this type of story?
It really started when we acquired a rescue dog a couple of years ago – I knew I wanted to write a book featuring a dog, and about a mum who’d been nagged half to death to get one – as I had, by my own daughter. It set me thinking, why would the mum finally agree? What kind of upheaval would the children gone through for her to want to make it up to them?
- To the readers of the blog, that may not be familiar with you or your writing, can tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing?
My background is in teenage magazines – I started working on the now-defunct ‘Jackie’ magazine straight from school, when I was 17. Over the years I also worked on ‘Just Seventeen’, ‘More!’ and ‘Bliss’, until I had my twin boys and decided to go freelance. Finally, as I no longer had a staff job on a mag, I felt I had the headspace to write a novel.
- Was there ever a book that you read, that didn’t live up to the hype that surrounded it and left you disappointed?
I’m ashamed to say I got really bored reading ‘Norwegian Wood’. Not enough happened for me. But I know so many people who love it! Perhaps it was a bit subtle for me – I’m not terribly highbrow. I like things to move along and I don’t have a huge amount of patience.
- What part of the writing process do you find the most difficult?
Just keeping going, really. Starting a book feels great as it’s all new, fresh and exciting – and towards the end it’s fun to start tying eveything up, plus there’s the relief at nearly reaching the finishing post. The middle bit is tough though – by which I mean from about page 70-350… ie, most of it! Self doubt creeps in and there’s really no alternative than to grit your teeth and plough on.
- I always thought the opening lines to “The Lovely Bones” was quite memorable, are there any opening lines to books that stuck out to you?
I’m pretty partial to the opening line of ‘I Capture the Castle’: ‘I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.’
- How do you feel about the current state of the publishing industry? Do you feel like it is an exciting time for authors?
It’s now so easy to self publish and, in some ways, authors are gaining more control of how things are done. Traditional publishing is in a state of flux, but I hope that by selling both paperbacks AND ebooks, authors can still earn a decent living. I have no problem with readers buying my novels as ebooks, as I know how brilliantly convenient it is – I love my Kindle and have been reading so much more since I got it. It’s a great way to try out lots of new authors.
- What authors do you admire?
I’ve always loved Anne Tyler, Lisa Jewell’s books always hit the spot for me, and I’m a big fan of India Knight too. ‘A Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing’ by Melissa Bank is one of my favourite books – the writing is deceptively simple.
- What has been the highlight of your career so far?
It’s hard to say, as the most recent book publication always feels like the most exciting. But I’d probably say getting my first ever job on ‘Jackie’, then the one on ‘Just Seventeen’. I loved my years on teenage mags – it didn’t feel like working, and pretty much all of my close friendships were formed then. But getting my current publishing deal with Avon has been great too, as we just seem to have clicked and they’ve been brilliant.
- If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
I’ll pick three books I’d be delighted to re-read – ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ by Mark Haddon, ‘Ladder of Years’ by Anne Tyler, and ‘About a Boy’ by Nick Hornby which just made me laugh so much.
- What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
It’s easy to become horribly self conscious – ‘Is this any good? Will anyone publish/buy this?’ And those thoughts can be really hampering and restricting. So anything you can do to write freely, without that self consciousness, will help your writing. I think it’s important to find a style and a voice, which feels authentic and that you feel comfortable with. A lot of it is instinctive – you know when it feels right, and the more writing you do – every day, ideally – the sooner you’ll arrive at that. There’s a lot of trial and error involved.
- When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
A mug of decent coffee. I drink FAR too much of the stuff and cannot write without it. It’s better than the towering ashtray I used to have…
- And finally Fiona, do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
I’m writing a novel for Avon – it has a sort of sugary theme and it’s about a woman in her late thirties who’s just dipping her toe back into the dating scene. She is sort of thrilled but terrified too, and her two teenage boys are completely scathing. It’s due to be finished by summer and is out in Feb 2014.