Welcome to the final stop on Helen Lederer’s Losing It Blog Tour! You’ve read the review, Losing It was launched last Thursday and is currently out in the world in a bookshop near you, so now it’s time to talk to its author. I’m thrilled to welcome the lovely Helen Lederer to the Nut Press today.
I now know which Millie favours but what about you, Helen: Margarita or Mojito, followed by a bottle of wine, or no messing around and straight to a bottle of wine? Mojito can be festive and slow down the inevitable graduation to a bottle of plonk when one starts realising the cost of the individual cocktail and the item taken to get the pith of a fruit into a glass… give me the WINE!
Millie has an humiliating episode in a hotel lobby thanks to some shapewear. Should we squeeze ourselves into those things, or let it all hang out (while still being fully dressed, obviously!) and embrace the bodies we have? Well a certain ballast underneath a dress for evening wear can enable getting out of the house at times? But I say no to the girdle on top of waist clincher and corset… what if one was in a car accident – what would the paramedics make of it all?
Millie’s such a sympathetic character that you can’t help rooting for. Well, I couldn’t anyway. I really felt for her, even if I wouldn’t have made her choices. But would you and she fight over the chunky KitKats or share your last bottle of sherry with each other? We would be friends but I would have to make the running as I know that Millie is a bit of a recluse if indulged. She would hide the sherry from me and drink it alone. I would also secret a KitKat from her bag to mine if left unsupervised…
Sustaining the comedy over a full-length novel is an incredibly hard thing to do but you’ve managed it really well without Millie becoming a caricature. Clearly, she’s a desperate woman but she’s also desperately funny with it, and very human. How important was it to you to get this balance right, and not make her a figure of fun? Ah yes, that was interesting – I’m not sure, but I’ve noticed that authenticity is the only way to connect – so showing her less charitable thoughts of others somehow made her likeable. By exposing the human failings we all have we make ourselves acceptable to each other – with love.
Do you think it’s inevitable that women will lose it in some shape or form, whether by being angry, feeling down or having a meldown? I lose it quite regularly especially when I have a hangover I find I can’t even park or work my iPhone. It’s nice to feel vexed sometimes – it means there are things we have to get done – we have purpose!
You’ve coined the term ‘mid-lit’ for Losing It, as being the age between chick lit and grey lit? Do you feel this is an overlooked group or is it that there’s a lack of comedic novels for this grouping? The last bit – I think the comedic novel is still unsung and unrecognised – especially in prizes! (Which is why I’m setting up my own – sadly I won’t be able to award it to myself.)
How important was the daughter’s story to Losing It? And why Papua New Guinea? Was this a way of sneaking in mention of the havoc that periods can wreak on a woman’s life, and using it as a metaphor generally? I loved having the sub plot of Papua New Guinea and the paradox that Mary needed a swamp environment to do her anthropological study – and yet illegal logging was the very thing that was keeping the land swamp-like – a bit of geopolitics never hurts. The period metaphor is now something I will claim as my own, thanks Kath!
What would you like to see readers losing (apart from themselves in your book), and what do you want them to gain from reading Losing It? I want them to lose the prejudice that I can’t write – and I want them to gain the knowledge that a laugh out loud book is utterly cool and to be coveted.
You’re a busy lady. Do you have such a thing as a typical writing day or do you grab moments to write whenever and wherever you can? During the book I wrote more or less every day for a bit and got grumpy if I couldn’t get to the PC or if there was noise from next door (don’t ask but can I just say LOUD BANGING while I edited my final draft…)
What took you so long to write this? (It’s been almost 10 years since we were at Moniack Mhor. Gulp!) Blimey was it 10 years? Well, I abandoned quite a few novels before this one. I learned not to get so anxious – I was trying too hard at Moniack but learned so much there. Sometimes the writing just finds you – I think… (I loved that place and meeting you.)
Helen Lederer is an actress, author, comedian, journalist, public speaker and voice over artist. Her debut novel, Losing It, is published by Pan Macmillan and is now available from all good book outlets and online from Amazon UK, Amazon US, Book Depository, Hive and Waterstones.
For your chance to win a signed copy of Losing It, leave a comment below telling me where you’d escape to if you were Losing It and what you’d be drinking once you got there. I’ll pick a winner on Friday 20th February at 5 p.m. (UK and Northern Ireland only.)