We’re very happy to welcome Kerry Fisher to Novel Kicks. As part of her blog tour to celebrate the release of The School Gate Survival Guide, Kerry talks to us about her new book, her writing rituals and The Famous Five.
Hi Kerry. Can you tell us a little about The School Gate Survival Guide and how the idea originated?
The idea came to me years ago when I lived in Italy and noticed that social snobbery was mainly confined to job title and geographical location – north vs. south. I was often introduced as ‘Dottoressa (Doctor) Fisher’ even though I’ve got a degree in languages! (I was always terrified there’d be some medical emergency and I’d have to say, ‘I can’t help with the heart attack but I can give you a hand with the subjunctive’.) When I came back to Britain, I noticed that there were all sorts of little social judgements constantly taking place – where you came from and your job was just the beginning. So I decided to write a humorous book about class and thought that the school gates would make a perfect comedic vehicle – a kind of Downton Abbey in a contemporary school setting.
If you were told you were only allowed to pick three things to survive, what would they be?
I’m not going to count my family as they’re a given. My needs are very few, but I couldn’t survive without the friends I’ve know for years. I don’t think anything can compete with that feeling of flopping down with a glass of wine and bouncing from topic to topic without having to fill in any back story. The dog is pretty vital – I love walking her and seeing the changing seasons. If I didn’t have her to exercise me, I’d have to spend even more time being ridiculed by my children when I hula-hoop on the Wii Fit! I don’t care about ‘stuff’ – I hate shopping and am still dinosauring about with an ancient mobile, much to the despair of my daughter. If I were really pushed for something else, I’d have to say, as a service to humankind, I should continue to have pedicures to avoid contaminating the environment with my aesthetically displeasing duck-billed platypus feet.by
Feisty Maia Etxeleku is a cleaner for ladies who lunch. She spends her life wiping up spilt Sauvignon and hoovering around handbags before rushing back home to skivvy after her children’s feckless father on an estate where survival depends on your ability to look the other way.
But an unusual inheritance catapults her into a different world where no child can survive without organic apricots and Kumon maths classes – and no woman can contemplate a week without Pilates and pedicures.
As she blunders through a middle class minefield, dashing from coffee mornings to her mops and buckets, she is drawn to the one man who can help her family fit in. But is his interest in her purely professional or will her modern My Fair Lady experiment end in disaster?
Maia is a character with whom the reader can immediately empathise with and I liked her straight away. She had an honest feeling about her. She is a mother of two who is working hard to make a better life for herself and her two children, Harley and Bronte. Her partner, Colin, is very little help. He’s lazy, unemployed and feels entitled to sponge off Maia who struggles to make ends meet working as a cleaner.by
The School Gate Survival Guide was first published as The Class Ceiling. It’s now got its new titile as was released as an e-book by Avon earlier this month with the paperback release following later in the year. We were very pleased to be invited to take part in Kerry’s blog tour to celebrate the release of her new book.
Below is an extract from the book. Enjoy.
Posh women with dirty houses sometimes phone me. Posh men never do.
Until today, when this solicitor bod burst into my morning with the sort of booming confidence it would be impossible to argue against. My ears closed down, rejecting the steamroller voice, pushing away his words.
‘I’m sorry to be the bearer of ghastly news.’
I’d just got home from my worst job cleaning the changing rooms at Surrey’s grottiest leisure centre. The phone rang while I was in the shower scrubbing away the taint of old plasters and plughole cack. As I clumped down the stairs wrapped in a towel that barely covered my backside, I was praying that the call was from Colin, with good news about work. Instead I stood in the kitchen, holding the phone away from my ear so I didn’t drip water into the receiver while Mr William Lah-di-dah bellowed away at a slight distance, a sort of old Etonian-cum-Clanger. Then I heard it.
‘I’m afraid Professor Rose Stainton passed away last Friday.’by