I’m so excited to finally share this interview on my blog, I originally did it for my book club on Facebook, but thought it would also be great to share on here too! So I hope you enjoy. Kathleen has just had her debut book Wife Support System published, so I interviewed her about it.
1. Hi Kathleen, Wife Support System is your Debut Novel. Congratulations! How does it feel to have your book published?
I know it sounds cliched, but, having wanted to be an author since I was seven, it really is a dream come true. (Unfortunately my dream involving The Duke of Hastings from Bridgerton hasn’t come true yet, but I remain hopeful. And deluded.)
My actual publication day didn’t go quite as I’d hoped though. In my mind (again, deluded), I’d spend the day sipping champagne while my family told me how amazing I was.
In reality, the conversations with my family went:
14yo: ‘Well done. Where are my jeans?’
11yo: ‘Well done. What can I eat?’
Husband: ‘Well done. Where’s the laptop charger?’
Even the video of me opening my box of paperback books featured my daughters arguing and my husband asking us to be quiet, as he was on a Zoom call. I guess they’re keeping me grounded.
I did get to have some champagne in the evening, but there was no sipping involved. I’m more of a quaffer.
You can see the disastrous video at https://www.kathleenwhyman.com/post/how-no
2. Can you tell us your favourite scene in the book?
I don’t want to give any spoilers, but there’s a scene between Erica and her partner Dan in which she vents all her frustrations. This was pretty much me venting my own frustration on my husband for all the things he does that annoy me. IRL, I avoid confrontation in case he takes the opportunity to list all the things that annoy him.
There’s also a scene involving two people getting to know each other rather well. I wouldn’t mind being the woman in this scene. Although I hope my nan never reads it.
3. The book was inspired by your own attempts at juggling life, so how much, if at all, do any of your characters reflect you?
Yes, Wife Support System was definitely inspired by my own life. It’s about three women – Erica, Louise and Polly – who are fed up with their husbands not being around much to help and leaving them to do the bulk of the childcare, running a house and life admin while working.
My friends and I were moaning about this and I said: ‘We’ve got the balance all wrong. Instead of living with our partners and struggling to do everything by ourselves, we should live together’, which Erica ends up saying in the book.
It wasn’t a viable or financial option in reality, but the idea grew and I started imagining scenarios that would lead women to take such drastic action and what would happen when they lived together.
Initially there were four women in the house. Three of them are extremes and exaggerations of normal people, but the fourth, Jen, was more normal and straightforward.
The book was way too long though, so I had to cut one of the characters to get the length down. Jen, who was most like me personality-wise, added the least interest, so she went. It’s official – I’m too boring to be a book character!
4. What did you learn whilst writing?
I learnt that I need a deadline to make me get my arse in gear and write!
Not because I’m lounging around, but because I view writing as my reward when I’ve done everything else that needs doing. As a freelance journalist with two children and a husband who works long hours, the list of things that need doing never ends!
When I’m given a publishing deadline, I have to prioritise my writing. I force myself to ignore non-essential jobs (we don’t eat off the floor, so cleaning it quickly falls under the non-essential category) and write during every available moment. And unavailable ones. A full night’s sleep is deemed non-essential at times. I actually finished at 4.10am the day my second book was due in. I wouldn’t recommend this as a sensible way to work. I felt and looked crap for days afterwards!
5. Can you describe your writing routine?
I’d like to be a pantser (where you write ‘by the seat of your pants’) because that sounds spontaneous and fun, but I’m actually a planner. I need to know where I’m going.
Before starting a novel, I write a brief description of what has to happen at each point in the story. I don’t know how it’s going to happen though. That comes to me as I write, which is the fun bit.
I write at my local library. It’s the best way of ensuring I don’t get distracted by jobs at home. Plus, it’s important to support libraries. They’re an endangered species and if we don’t use them, we’ll lose them.
At home, I write in what used to be my youngest daughter’s bedroom, but is now a study/dumping ground. The room is hot pink with cupcake bunting. I claim I haven’t redecorated for sentimental reasons, but really it’s because I can’t be arsed.
6. What’s your favourite and worst part of the writing process?
My favourite part is when I can write for periods of time uninterrupted, as the story takes hold then and flows out.
I once rented an Airbnb for five days and wrote nonstop. I was so immersed in the book it was as though the plot lines were floating around me and I could reach out and pluck them from the air and insert them into the story.
That makes me sound as though I was on drugs. Or should have been.
I didn’t sleep much during those five days. It was as though my brain was telling me I didn’t have time to sleep – I needed to write nonstop. I found time to eat lots of chocolate though. Nothing gets in the way of that!
The worst part is having to write til 4.10am to meet a deadline and realising I’ve run out of chocolate at about midnight. No one’s going to do a run to the all night garage for me at that time!
7. If you could have dinner with any author (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
Jane Austen. There are many questions I’d love to ask her, but I’d also like to show her what she’s achieved.
Her books are still read and loved 300 years after she wrote them. She’s the first woman, other than the Queen, to have featured on a banknote. She has a fan club, museums dedicated to her and numerous films and TV series adapted from her books.
She could never have imagined any of this when she was secretly writing in her parlour and I’m sure she’d be blown away by it all. Especially the scene where Colin Firth comes out of the lake in Pride and Prejudice. That would give anyone the vapours!
8. Can you recommend two books that you unequivocally love?
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It has wit, drama, suspense, great characters and a wonderful will they / won’t they romance.
Secondly, Jess Beam is a Hot Mess by an author called Kirsty Greenwood. You may have heard of her?!
I’m not just saying this to earn some Brownie points. I genuinely LOVE this book.
I borrowed it from my local library to take on holiday and basically ignored my family, as I couldn’t put it down. I was laughing out loud on my sun lounger, which ensured that they ignored me back.
When I finished, I messaged Kirsty on FB to tell her how much I loved it, which I’ve never done before.
It’s just such a brilliant book. So funny, brilliant characters, a page-turning plot, a will they/won’t they/love/hate romance. It’s got everything. I’ve read it several times and listened to it on audiobook and laugh out loud every time. (Some people call it LOL, but I can’t see that catching on.)
My family were very relieved when I’d finished reading it, til I discovered that Kirsty had also written Big Sexy Love. I downloaded that immediately and love it just as much. It’s hard to choose between the two – He Will Be Mine is also unputdownable – but I’ll go with Jess Beam as my favourite, as it was my first Kirsty Greenwood book and our firsts are always special. (First book. Other firsts sadly have the potential to massively disappoint!)
About Wife Support System by Kathleen Whyman
‘We’ve got the balance all wrong. Instead of living with our partners and struggling to do everything by ourselves, we should live together.’
Erica knows her suggestion sounds extreme, but when her nanny leaves, she’s extremely desperate. Polly and Louise aren’t convinced, but after they move in together, they admit that life’s much easier when the childcare and workload is shared.
However, over time resentment builds, as they judge each other’s parenting styles and bicker over cleaning, cooking and whose turn it is to buy toilet rolls.
Can Erica, Louise and Polly keep their friendships and relationships strong, as one has her head turned by a handsome colleague, one resorts to spying on her husband and one fights to keep a dark secret? Or will their perfect mumtopia fall apart?
How to buy Wife Support System
Wife support System by Kathleen Whyman is available in paperback, ebook and audiobook. You can buy it at… https://linktr.ee/KathleenWhymanAuthor
Your local book shop can also order it in if it’s not in stock (in other words, if my mum got to the shop before you!).
About Kathleen Whyman
Kathleen Whyman is an author, journalist, knackered mum and Espresso Martini fan. (These may be linked).
Kathleen wrote her first novel, The Ghost of Cripple Creek, when she was 10. Despite the accompanying illustrations, it was never published. Jackie magazine also rejected the short stories she submitted in her teens. Possibly because they were crap.
Kathleen’s debut novel, Wife Support System, was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Joan Hessayon Award (it’s not technically a romance, but it has romantic elements in it). Kathleen’s novel Second Wife Syndrome was shortlisted for the Comedy Women in Print prize in the Unpublished Comic Novel category. Although very pleased to have been nominated, Kathleen’s still gutted that both awards evenings were cancelled due to Covid. There were going to be party bags and everything!
You can follow me on social media or sign up to my newsletter at https://www.kathleenwhyman.com/contact-me
I’d love to hear from you!