Today I’m delighted to welcome Mink Elliott to Me, My Books and I:
Mink is a journalist, author and copywriter. She’s worked on loads of magazines over the years (J-17, more!, bliss, New Woman, B, Sky, Dare!) and some that are even still going today (Practical Parenting, FHM, um…). She was born in Manchester, mis-spent her youth in Adelaide, Canberra and Sydney and turned her 20s and 30s into a blur in London. Now in her forties, she still sometimes wishes she could turn back time – just for a day or two – so she could re-experience what it’s like to be young, well-rested with a trim waist, just the one chin and be allowed to go to the loo by herself. Having said that, she wouldn’t change a thing about her lucky life now – especially her handsome golf-mad husband, two rambunctiously beautiful kids and yes, even her bum that is currently the size of Cuba.
To find out more:
Where did the idea for A MOTHER DIMENSION come from?
Fantastic, endless conversations with my older mum mates about the good old days, to be honest. The more we talked about what we used to get up to before husbands and kids came on the scene, the more I realised I wasn’t alone in sometimes hankering after the past. Common questions kept emerging – what would you do differently if you had the chance to do it all again? What if you’d turned a different corner (sorry, George!) all those years ago – where would you be now? And what on earth happened to the impetuous, spontaneous, mad-fun party girl you used to be? These real misty-eyed memory-sharing sessions in cafes gave way to rampant fantasies in my novel-writing head and then one particularly exhausting morning I took a shower (must have been my birthday!) as a tempest raged outside and as I washed my baby-spew-encrusted, thinning hair, my imagination went into overdrive. What if a freak electrical storm could transport a harried, frumpy old mum back in time to her hey day when she was three stone lighter and sported a fab Rachel from Friends ’do? And what if she had a 44-year-old’s wise(ish) head on her 26-year-old now-slim shoulders and could see where she was going wrong? What if she could change some things? Maybe marry a different guy? Maybe be a better daughter and sister? Maybe not go quite so heavy on the carbs all the time? My mind was racing, so I turned off the shower, leapt over the side of the bath (and by ‘leapt’, I mean ‘gingerly and awkwardly clambered’) and ambled, soaking the carpet, to my bedroom. When I got there I stared blankly at some broken chalk and an envelope sticking out of a book on my desk for a few minutes until finally I remembered what the hell I’d gone in there for. Seconds later, I was scribbling furiously on said envelope and A Mother Dimension was born!
Who was your favourite character to write and why?
Ooh – that’s a good question! Liam Gallagher was hard because he’s a real person and I didn’t want to offend anyone (especially him!), um, Kate was a little bit easier because she’s EveryMum, really – a mish-mash of all my friends. Medea, the stunning feminist publisher, was great because she calls it as she sees it and won’t stand for any nonsense, like Kate’s best friend, Georgia. Hard-nosed Archie was good fun – as was Tamsin the tart and uber-lad Tom. But my fave would probably have to be Seamus. Because he’s a gangly, hapless geek – but he’s a really good guy, funny, sweet and smart with a heart of gold. He just lacks confidence, so he’s prone to looking and acting like a bit of a bozo sometimes. Like a lot of us.
What do you hope readers will learn from A MOTHER DIMENSION?
I hope they have a laugh more than anything – and recognise parts of their lives and themselves in Kate. But if they were going to learn anything, I would hope that it would be that they’re great just the way they are, getting older is a good thing (beats the alternative, as they say), bingo wings and a mummy tummy are nothing to be ashamed of – in fact, we should wear them with pride – and you might as well live in the here and now because it’s all we’ve got and there’s bugger-all you can do about the past, anyway!
What makes it stand out from the crowd?
It’s not about a 27-year-old looking for love (well, not at the start, anyway!), it’s about a 44-year-old mother of three who pines for the good old days so much, she loses sight of the present and is virtually incapable of living in the moment. It paints a funny, realistic picture of family life (it isn’t sickly sweet) and I hope it resonates with a lot of women out there who feel like they’ve lost themselves, lost a bit of their identity in the whoosh of the whirlwind that is husbands and kids.
How long did it take you to write?
Not that long, really – once I had the idea and wrote a synopsis, swiftly followed by a sample chapter (which never made it into the actual novel, by the way), I rather raced through it. After 10 weeks (one term at my daughter’s school), writing approx 3000 words a day every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (when my daughter was at school and my son was at daycare) between the hours of 10:30 and 3pm, I had a first draft down. Obviously, the editing and re-writing took a lot longer, but the initial draft was done in 10 weeks.
Do you follow a plan when you’re writing or do you let the story guide you?
A bit of both, actually. Sometimes when you get stuck, it’s handy to have a rough roadmap to steer you in the right direction. You don’t always have to go the way it tells you to, but it’s nice to know you have a planned route if you get lost and everything goes horribly wrong. A loose plan can make you feel a little more secure – like Sat Nav for the struggling writer! Gosh – where did all that motoring imagery come from? I’ve never even watched Top Gear!
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I like to wear all-white, flowing dresses and look gorgeous while playing with my beautifully-behaved kids in a soft, green meadow as if we’re in a slo-mo Timotei ad. I like sleeping soundly, catching up on my reading, baking perfect cakes with the kids, hosting fabulous dinner parties, going for romantic walks on windswept beaches with my male model husband and only ever drinking just the one glass of wine with my oh-so-elegant, abstemious evening meal. Ha! Back in the real world, though, what I usually end up doing is watching TV, going to the movies, eating way too many Maltesers, obsessing over diets, racking up enormous mobile phone bills talking to friends and family overseas, wearing grubby ‘joggers’ all day and falling asleep on the couch at approximately 9:15 pm every night. Same as when I’m writing, really!
If you could collaborate with any author, who would it be?
My mum! She’s completely brilliant. Or my dad. Or my brother, come to think of it. But if they were too busy or just not interested, I suppose I’d settle for David Nicholls, Liane Moriarty, Emma Kennedy, Matt Dunn, Lucy-Anne Holmes, Jonathan Coe, Shirley Conran, Germaine Greer, Nick Hornby, Lisa Jewell or Mike Gayle. And anyone who wanted to collaborate with me!
If you could travel anywhere in the world to do research for a book, where would it be?
New York, New England, rural France, Bulgaria, St Petersburg, Tokyo, Tasmania and Cambodia (cue old Kim Wilde song).
Paperback or eBook?
Before I got my Kindle, I’d have said paperback. Unequivocally. Now, however, après Kindle, I…I still say paperback, actually! There’s something great about holding a paperback and turning the pages and folding down a corner to mark your place because you don’t have a decent bookmark or used envelope handy. I suppose eBooks are great if you’re travelling or have absolutely no space for bookshelves – but even then, I like the idea of suitcases choc-full of books, stairs with piles of books on them and bedside tables groaning under the weight of books. Despite everything I’ve just said, however, I am starting to really get into the whole eBook thing – so fast, so cheap and so easy – what’s not to love?
Tea or coffee?
Tea. Always. In fact, I’ve only ever drunk coffee once – and that was just a sip by accident when I thought my mum’s cup of Nescafe was my builder’s tea. I wish I was one of those ‘ooh, I’m not human until I’ve had my first cup of Joe in the morning’ people, though. That was one of my New Year’s Resolutions, actually – to really work on cultivating a heavy coffee habit.
Telephone or face-to-face?
Bad hair day? Telephone. Bordering on presentable? Make the most of this rare occasion and go the interface!
Pen or pencil?
Pen. But then again, whatever’s handy – so lead pencil, coloured pencil, crayon, permanent marker, paint – I even had to use pale peach chalk on an old white envelope I was using as a bookmark once (see first question!). I wouldn’t recommend it.
Snow or sun?
With not even a hint of hesitation, snow, snow – a thousand times snow!
Any last words for your readers?
Yes – talk to me! I’m always up for a chat, so look at the website (www.minkelliott.co.uk), click on the CONTACT bit and drop me a line – I’d seriously love to hear from you!
Thank you so much for being here today Mink, it was a pleasure to have you on my blog. I particularly enjoyed reading about how you got the idea for A MOTHER DIMENSION!
Now check out the book:
“Kate O’Reilly, mother of three on the cusp of her 45th birthday, has got a thing about the past. Her husband, Seamus and long-standing best friend, Georgia, both call her chronic nostalgia an obsession – but Kate sees it as her safety harness, her private Prozac, her coping mechanism of choice. Because when being a wife and mother is weighing her down, making her feel trapped and overwhelming her, all Kate needs to do is take a quick trip down memory lane – to where the music was better, her social circle was wider, her self-esteem higher, her hair thicker and her waist much, much thinner – and voila! All is right with her world again.
But when a freak electrical storm propels her back in time to 1996 for real, Kate can’t believe what’s happening. Soon, however, she’s elated, because this is the moment she’s been waiting for all these years – her chance to re-live those good old days and actually do all those things she’s been fantasising about.
Armed with little more than the optimism of youth, the benefit of hindsight, a taut-again tummy and just the one chin, Kate sets out to discover what might have happened if she’d only done things a little bit differently. And why some things really are best left in the past… “
The paperback will be launched in May.