Mother-of-four, gin-drinker, binge-watcher, receipt hoarder, enthusiastic but terrible cook. Kristen also writes. She has had short fiction published in several publications including Mslexia & Riptide. Her first two novels, Souper Mum and Second Helpings were published in 2016. In 2019, she was long listed in the Comedy Women in Print Prize and has since joined the Bookouture family. She writes women’s fiction and she hopes her novels have fresh and funny things to say about modern life, love and family.
I once attended a writers’ group where a man sat there for fifteen minutes and spoke about writing and the book he wanted to publish. He then gave us all ‘advice’ and critiques over what we were working on. Turns out he hadn’t even written a word of his own book. If you want to write, write. It’s how you learn, grow and develop your sense of style. Your first writing will probably be awful but keep it so ten years later you can look back on it and have a giggle but also see how far you’ve come.
Competitions have always been a wonderful gateway for me into writing. They get your work noticed and in three instances for me have led to bigger and better things. In the past, I’ve entered short story competitions and also submitted to magazines and journals. In a business where there are not a lot of rewards for your graft, this can give you small wins that motivate you to keep going.
I don’t have an agent. Most writers are given the traditional advice to go out on submission to agents first. I have nothing against agents but my route to where I am means I did everything off my own enquiries, and I now deal directly with my digital publisher and no one else. There are pros and cons to both – do research those first but an agent is not essential to being a published author. I’m sorry, agents.
Don’t be discouraged by Instagram/Twitter writers who have perfect desks, planning boards and writing software. All you need is a computer and Word to start. My desk has not a pastel pen pot or potted plant in sight. My only advice is to write warm and caffeinated. I write in a dressing gown and big socks and comfortable underwear. No one wants to write with a wedgie.
Traditional writing advice will tell you to read, read, read. Do that but also watch. Some of the best writing these days can be seen on television/film and I think it’s also a brilliant way to learn how to write authentic dialogue. Comedy in particular for me as they’re brilliant ways of looking at helping you create characters as opposed to caricatures. The best stuff I’ve watched in recent years? Motherland, After Life, Modern Family, What We Do In The Shadows, Catastrophe, New Girl.
Have someone you love and trust to look at your reviews before you. For me, this is my husband. If the 1* star ones are particularly cutting then he might hide them from me. It’s easy for me to say, ‘don’t listen to the bad reviews, it’s just one person’s opinion’ but when you’ve invested so much time and love in something, it’s not pleasant for it to be torn apart by someone you don’t know, and in an industry with so much self-doubt and set-backs, protect yourself.
Use notebooks. Don’t write random ideas down on Post Its and important letters from school because they get lost or put in the bin or taken back into school. This then starts fights or you having to email a teacher asking how I resolved a plot hole in chapter five.
I am what is known in the business as a ‘pantser’ which means I just sit at a computer and unleash a whole stream of consciousness from the very depths of my unfunny soul, praying to the literary gods it will turn into a book. Seven books in and nothing has changed but I suggest some form of organisation. Always have a timeline written down so your copy editor doesn’t hate you, and write down your cast as you go so you don’t end up naming five characters Dave.
I swear a lot in my books and a brilliant editor once gave me some brilliant advice. Swear words in the written form are far more jarring than when we hear them. It must be how we process them so do cut back on those big major swears and remember how differently they translate too. In the US, if you’re pissed, you are angry, not drunk, and certain words (that I use everyday) have an increased shock factor over the pond. Be creative too. Sometimes being funny can be using a very unexpected turn of phrase to insult someone e.g. ‘you complete wet wipe…’
Don’t measure your success by others. If you’re at a family party and Uncle Pete asks why you’re not JK Rowling yet then you have my permission to go pour a drink in his coat pocket and blame it on a four-year-old cousin. We always hear the big success stories in publishing, the massive advances, the Netflix film rights fairytales. The truth I started writing properly in 2007, first book published in 2016. I’ve made enough money to do some much needed house renovations and put in some hardy floors in (remember, I have four kids). Success is achieved and felt in different ways. I feel successful to just be able to tell Uncle Pete that I am a writer, it’s my job and I’ve kept going for nearly fifteen years.
(c) Kristen Bailey
About Am I Allergic to Men? by Kristen Bailey:
What if you lost over ten years of your life… and found out that you’re extremely single, your own cat hates you, and your biggest commitment is to Netflix?
I’m Lucy. Out-of-work actress, part-time princess impersonator, Dorito enthusiast. Oh, and I’ve lost my memory.
I got knocked off a bike on my way to a children’s party, dressed as a Disney princess, and accidentally flashed my thong. Now, in my head, it’s 2009 and I’m seventeen years old. Not nearly thirty and starting to wrinkle.
By this stage of my life, I thought I’d be married, with kids and a mortgage. Instead, I’ve got a phone full of dick pics and my longest relationship is with Pinot Grigio. Determined to fill the gaps, I track down ex-boyfriends, friends with benefits and one-night stands. There’s some questionable activity – including a guy with a goatee who fixes fridges, a fling with a man in a Batman costume, and Tony who likes a dance off.
As I make my way through my contacts list – and try to jog my memory – I can’t help asking: am I allergic to love? Commitment? Men?
And is there a cure?
Better than a workout, you’ll laugh so much your abs ache! The perfect page-turner for anyone who has ever felt a little lost or needed a helping hand to love themselves. Fans of Sophie Kinsella, Lindsey Kelk and TV shows like Schitt’s Creek will fall head over heels for this romantic comedy.
Order your copy online here.