I’m very pleased to welcome Stella Hervey Birrell to the blog today. I read her novel How Many Wrongs Make a Mr Right recently and you can read my review by clicking here.
Thanks for stepping into the spotlight Stella. First of all, would you tell me a little about yourself?
I was a dreamy child. To be fair, I’m probably a fairly dreamy adult … I was a fairly typical, annoying child, the youngest of five, and a nippy teenager (aren’t they all?). My twenties were a bit of a mess due to mental health problems – but now, as well as being a published author, I’m married with two children and two cats. Being in my thirties rocks!
What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always written to get things out of my system. One of those ‘things’ was picked up by The Guardian, and the response encouraged me to give up the day job.
Tell me about your journey to publication
I gave up paid work in 2012, and my first novel was published in 2016. But I had given myself 10 years to get anywhere so I was pleasantly surprised to only have to wait for 4. I submitted the first three chapters of How Many Wrongs… to over thirty agents and publishers. I was just about to give up on the novel entirely when Crooked Cat offered to publish.
Luck finally strikes with the Cats!
In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?
It’s a chick-lit, ‘with grit’ as I like to say, which follows Melissa, probably the most aggravating anti-heroine ever. A novel about frog-kissing, bed-hopping, sliding off your lily-pad with embarrassment, and croaking for joy.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
Funnily enough, it was my pal Christine, who hadn’t even read it! I told her what the book was about and she came up with the title in about thirty seconds. I’m just waiting for the invoice …
How did you celebrate publication day?
Well, if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s throwing a party. Crooked Cat always release their books on Kindle and other online platforms first, so I hosted my very first Facebook party between 7am and 10pm that day. But I still invited some friends over so I could pop back and forth between the computer and the prosecco! Once the book went into paperback, I wanted to host a proper launch – partly to thank everyone for their support. We booked a local art gallery, had a reading, live music, wine and nibbles and books for sale (of course). Much, much later, we ended up at my local pub: singing raucously, much to the amusement of Jamie the landlord, and drinking more than was strictly advisable.
Do you have a work in progress just now?
Yes. I’m very excited about my second novel and can’t wait to share it. It’s nearly, nearly done, but I keep tweaking little bits here and there. And I am saying nothing more about it, because it has a huge secret at its heart.
What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!
I had an extreme reaction to Nobody Told Me, by Hollie McNish. To say I couldn’t put it down is an understatement. I was reading it with one hand and pulling pizza out of the freezer with the other, so that I could make the easiest tea possible! It follows Hollie from when she found out she was pregnant, to her daughter’s first birthday, and it spoke directly to so many of my experiences.
What are you reading just now?
I’m reading the Earthsea Quartet by Ursula Le Guin. I’ve been meaning to get round to it for ages, so I’ve nicked my Mum’s copy (thanks Mum!). It is wonderful. I knew it would be.
This has been responsible for some late nights over the summer!
Tell me about your reading habits: book or kindle, bed or bath, morning or evening?
I have a kindle but also love holding (and let’s face it, smelling) a book. I read everywhere – kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, walking to the front door as the doorbell has gone, waiting for a bus/a train/a child to finish swimming lesson, etc, etc. I will almost always end my day with at least a page or two. Or a chapter or two if it’s suddenly become imperative to find out what happens next!
My Best Friends … I mean, er, books.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
How to find me: please come and say ‘hi’ in one or more of these places.
My blog space is https://atinylife140.wordpress.com/
Twitter is @atinylife140
I have a page on Facebook here.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I can also be found wandering the streets of various East Lothian villages – I’m the dreamy-looking one!
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
Hanging out at Pemberley sounds good …
My book, How Many Wrongs make a Mr Right? is available from the following places