Written By : Donna Tweedale
I had originally pre-ordered The Back Up Plan to immerse myself in over our holiday. But then I watched Alice's Instagram Live where she read the first chapter and I was too impatient and binge read it over a few days.
Having read Alice's blog 'More Than Toast' over the years I was familiar with her writing style. She shares her experiences with an openness written in a tone that feels like she's sharing her stories with you, right there, Chablis in hand. Her dry wit will have you giggling along with her anecdotes and her willingness to write so openly giving the middle finger to others opinions is to be admired. An attitude that doesn't come from a place arrogance it comes with a confidence, from owning her decisions and learning from her experiences.
Not a book that reels off dating stories,... although they make for a great read!... There are some men out there who need to have a word with themselves. Like seriously. Th e Back Up Plan goes deeper than that. This is a book that I connected with as a Wife, a Mother, a Woman.
Now that The Back Up Plan has been out for a while, we thought it was high time we caught up with Alice and found out about how it feels to be a published writer!
Alice, So, C'mon. Let`s cut to the chase. How did it feel? That moment of opening. Your book. A hard back. Your words, in something tangible. Talk us through it.
Publishing a book was such a multifaceted experience in ways I really didn't expect. It was the absolute culmination of the dream I've had to write a book since I was about five, so to hold my own tome in my hand was just out of this world. And to have it published by Coronet/Hodder & Stoughton, an actual London publishing house, well, that was an honour I can't really articulate.
But it was also terrifying! I totally laid my life bare in the pages of The Back-Up Plan, completely opened up my heart to my audience via the medium of words. And that made me feel incredibly vulnerable. I was lucky not to experience much criticism but that I did get was like a dagger to my chest, though some of it was just pure comedy. Someone left an amazon review saying that she thought the book was more a fiction novel than a memoir.... OK, stranger on the internet. You know more about my life than I do ;)
Overall, I'm so proud that I managed to achieve one of my dreams. And I really believe I did myself justice, too: I'm way more judgemental of other writing styles now when I pick up a book, and it's lovely read a respected author's words and think "yep, I'm a good writer too", because as a blogger and hobby writer previously I don't think I gave myself enough credit for my talent.
No matter what happens in the rest of my career I'll always have that gorgeous hardback to hold in my hands and share with my children. And that's something so special.
Totally, And rightly so. Learning to breathe deeply and breeze over questionable Amazon reviews. The positives have come in thick and fast. And to see women sharing their copies over their social media? Seeing it on the shelves in Waterstones.... How is that?!
That's just bizarre! One member of the hub messaged me to say they had spotted someone reading it on holiday in Greece, I mean, WOW! Other readers get in touch with photos of the book on the shelves in their local libraries. It's exciting yet humbling to see people read my words in places I never expected.
It must feel so surreal! You've spoken previously about the tight deadlines you were working to in writing your book, and even how there were changes you wanted to make to reflect your life at that very moment of going to print. Alongside other work commitments, your children, running your home. Writing a book sounds like such a mammoth task. How did you maintain the level of focus that you needed?
The answer to this is that I really don't know. I think routine was key; I had six weeks to write 80,000 words so I was really strict with my time. Because of the tight turnaround I didn't actually receive my advance until the book was due, so I was still working my day job, which meant I wrote mostly in the evenings as that's when I felt most creative and my best work was generated.
I got into a lovely little pattern to write: I'd feed the kids their dinner, put them to bed, turn all my favourite lamps on and sit down at my desk with a glass of red wine. I'd then try hard to stay off Instagram while I got my daily allocated work count down, before collapsing into bed around midnight absolutely spent. It was intense but it worked.
Of course, Immersing yourself in the memories of your marriage. Your birth stories and the health struggles that you had to overcome. That made for an intense read. So, for you to revisit those memories and write about them in such detail. That must have been both painful and therapeutic for you? How did you take yourself back to those moments as a wife, a mother, but then maintain the headspace, the strength where you have got yourself to now?
It was so hard to re-visit these memories. I found I wrote best by really immersing myself back into those tough events and I'd look back at my blog and Facebook to remind myself what I was thinking and feeling at these times. I'd listen to the music I loved from those past years and scrolled through hundreds and hundreds of photographs.
It was difficult but incredibly cathartic and I really felt that by doing it I put a lot of demons to bed once and for all: writing has always been therapy for me and the book was the ultimate in exorcising some feelings I had about difficulties I'd been through. It was like a year of intense counselling in six weeks!
Wow. What an experience though, and for your book to give back to you like that. Amazing.
I watched your Instagram live, around your publish date. What a great idea to share the first chapter with your followers like that, so candidly. Your followers, readers of your blog will be familiar with your honesty, how you share your experiences. Writing a book has opened you up to a new, wider audience, how has that been for you?
Thank-you!! The community I have been lucky enough to build on Instagram is so important, it's seen me through some of the toughest and happiest times of my life so I wanted to share my book with the people who almost feel as close to me as family. With the book my main aim was to help other women in a similar situation - those who feel lost and sad, and don't know where to go for comfort - have a little bit of hope. When I was going through the turbulence of a poorly baby, PND and my marriage breakdown I didn't have this, I didn't have anywhere to look for comfort or happiness.
I wanted to be that bit of hope to those who are struggling and honestly, the messages I get from women saying I have touched them this way with my words, it makes all the hard work SO worthwhile.
Absolutely, The very best side to social media. Making those connections.
You must feel a huge sense of achievement. Congratulations... Plans for a sequel?
I really do!! Thank-you, and yes a sequel is in the works. But fiction this time, and hopefully with a less intense writing schedule!
Ha! I bet! Well, you clearly work well under pressure. I loved reading it. As have many Maven's. We`re looking forward to seeing what comes next for you Alice. Thanks so much for you time, and sharing with us here in the hub.