Author of The Beta Mum Adventures in Alpha Land
What's it all about ...
When Sophie Bennett moves from a quiet, sleepy suburb of Toronto to glitzy west London, she doesn't know where she has landed: Venus or Mars. Her three-year-old daughter Kaya attends Cherry Blossoms, the most exclusive nursery in London, where Sophie finds herself adrift in a sea of Alpha mums.. These mothers are glamorous, gorgeous, competitive and super rich, especially Kelly, the blonde, beautiful and bitchy class rep.
Struggling to fit in and feeling increasingly isolated, Sophie starts The Beta Mum, an anonymous blog describing her struggles with the Alpha mums. But when her blog goes viral, she risks ruining everything for herself and her daughter. How long will it be until they discover her true identity? Is her marriage strong enough to survive one of her follower's advances? And will she ever fit in with the Alpha mums?
Hi Isabella, welcome to Jaffareadstoo...☺
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started as an author.
Writing is something I have done my whole life, without even realising it. I wrote a short story when I was 9 years old and my teacher at the time told me that perhaps, one day, I would become a writer. I put this dream on hold when I went to university to study medicine, but it was always there at the back of my mind. When I had my first daughter, I thought I would write during my maternity leave, but then I had my daughter and realised how much work and effort it takes to look after a baby! Six months after I returned back to work, I realised I couldn’t be the doctor I wanted to be and the mother I wanted to be, so I quit working as a doctor. After my second child was born, I started a blog, www.nottinghillyummymummy.com chronicling the entertaining lives of west London residents and my love of writing returned. When people complimented my writing, I thought that perhaps I could write that book. Last year, I took the Faber Academy’s ‘Writing a Novel’ class and one and a half years later, my book, The Beta Mum, Adventures in Alpha Land, has just been published.
Where did you get inspiration for The Beta Mum Adventures in Alpha Land?
They say to write about what you know, so I wrote about being a mum and the struggles and challenges of motherhood today. It is set in glitzy west London, which makes for a colourful and entertaining setting, but my main character’s experiences are common experiences that many mothers face today: loneliness, feeling like an outsider, trying to find a balance between being a mother and an individual, having a career and feeling guilty or not having a career and struggling with your identity. I think that many women will relate to my main character’s challenges.
Tell us three interesting things about your novel which will tempt the reader's interest.
- All my characters are fictional, but some of the events in the book are based on events that have happened to me or to people I know, like the time I went on a play date and someone thought I was there for a housekeeping interview.
- I am not Sophie the main character but I have experienced feelings of loneliness and feeling like an outsider when I was a child and moved around the world every few years, so I used those emotions in Sophie when she moves to London and feels completely like a fish out of water.
- I had a lot of fun writing the character of Kelly, Sophie’s main ‘frenemy’ who is so bitchy and awful, but also so fun to write. She is a character that you love to hate.
Whilst you are writing you must live with your characters. During the writing process did they ever dictate how the story progressed, or did you stick with a writing plan from the beginning and never deviate?
My characters didn’t really dictate how the story progressed, but I didn’t have a writing plan either! I tried really hard to have a writing plan, but it constantly changed, so I had to constantly change my characters to adapt to it. My characters evolved over time and became more complex as the book was edited and re-written. When you first start, you know your characters as acquaintances, but as you go through the writing process, you get to know them intimately and they become close friends that you know everything about. It’s a beautiful relationship in a way, between an author and his or her characters.
The book world is very competitive – how do you get your book noticed?
Yes, the book world is very competitive – almost as competitive as some of the characters in my book! Writing a book takes a lot of work, but I never realised how much work it takes to promote a book; it takes hours and days of determination, perseverance and a very thick skin. I have been really lucky in that I have been featured in major newspapers – The Saturday Times and The Daily Mail – but even with this exposure, it is still hard to get noticed when there is so much information we are bombarded with on a daily basis. I have also approached bloggers and book reviewers and organised giveaways. It has been non-stop and it still continues even after the book is published.
Without giving too much away, what do you hope readers will take away from reading The Beta Mum Adventures in Alpha Land?
I hope that readers will empathise with my character and perhaps feel less lonely in their situation. I know that many mums struggle with motherhood, whether out of loneliness or a loss of identity after having children and I hope that the readers feel that they are not alone. I have already had some wonderful reviews and comments from bloggers and book reviewers, and many have said that they related to Sophie, which is what I intended. Of course, I also want my readers to enjoy the book. It is a light, fun, summer read that isn’t meant to be taken very seriously, so I hope I make someone a little happier after reading it. That’s the beauty of books isn’t it? A bit of escapism and the chance to live another life for a few hours.
Isabella Davidson is the author of the popular blog Notting Hill Yummy Mummy, which chronicles the entertaining lives of west London residents. She started The Beta Mum during the six-month Faber Academy novel writing course. Prior to startingher writing career, she worked for a Nobel Prize-winning humanitarian organisation and as a doctor for the National Health Service.
You can find more about Isabella on her website Notting Hill Yummy Mummy by clicking here
Discover her on Goodreads
Follow on Twitter @NHyummymummy #thebetamum
Huge thanks to Isabella for spending time with us today and for answering our questions so thoughtfully.
The Beta Mum Adventures in Alpha Land is out now and published by Silverwood Books.