Call Me Mummy… A Q&A with Tina Baker

Hi everyone and today on the blog I’m delighted to welcome Tina Baker, to discuss her debut novel Call Me Mummy.

I LOVED EVERYTHING about this novel – the characters, the plotting, the pacing. It didn’t feel like a debut novel, but it is. I was intrigued by the premise, so had a chat with Tina to discover more about her writing process.

Over to you, Tina…

1) Where did the idea come from and how did you begin to flesh it out?

I’d always wanted to write a novel but had never given myself the time. When my dad died, I finally decided to go for it, and I signed up foran MA in Creative Writing at City University. On the course, one bit of homework was to go somewhere you’d never been before. I went into a branch of Mothercare. As I’d failed to have a child, despite fertility treatment, I’d never set foot in a shop like that. I had a full-on meltdown. Very painful. That was the seed of the idea for Call Me Mummy.

It took two years after that to flesh out the idea into a story of the two women.

2) How did you create your main character Mummy? Did you enjoy writing her? Which other perspective did you most enjoy writing?

Sadly, some of Mummy is my worst impulses and it’s also based on my own mother, now deceased. She was abused by nuns, so the warped Catholicism came from her experience.

3) Call Me Mummy is your debut novel. How did you choose the title? What made you decide to tackle the subject you chose?

I’d always wanted to be a mother but failed. I’ve yearned for someone to call me Mummy, but it never happened. The cats haven’t even tried! Ialways wanted to write from the heart – tackling topics that meant something to me.

4) What was your research process like? Did any of the research surprise you at any point? Did you refer to it during the process of writing?

I didn’t have to do much research as I already had direct experience of feeling desperate for a child and fertility treatment that failed. I also know the locations in the book very well. I taught Zumba on the Andover Estate where Kim lives, and I taught fitness sessions at the Finsbury Park Mosque, where her friend Ayesha worships.

I did re-read press coverage of child abduction cases.

5) What does your writing process look like? Do you plot in detail? If not, why not?

Plotting – as in sitting down and having the structure before you start – feels totally alien to me. Some people have spreadsheets! Post-its on the wall! Colour-coded chapters! I have to lean into a story and feel that things happen organically. Sometimes I do know how I want it to end, but by the time I’ve got there, even that might change.

6) Lastly, do you use Scrivener or MS Word? Which do you prefer and why?

Word. I don’t know what Scrivener is without googling it. I’m not the most technical person. Head of Technology (he appointed himself) is my husband, Geoff.

Thank you for visiting the blog today, Tina. It has been a pleasure to interview you. I wish you all the best with your writing.

Bio: Tina was brought up in a caravan after her mother, a fairground traveller, fell pregnant by a window cleaner. After leaving the bright lights of Coalville, she came to London and worked as a journalist and broadcaster for thirty years. She’s probably best known as a television critic for the BBC and GMTV, but after so many hours watching soaps gave her a widescreen bum, she got off it, lost weight and won Celebrity Fit Club. When not writing she now works as a fitness instructor. She also rescues cats, whether they want to be rescued or not. Call Me Mummy is Tina’s first novel, partly inspired by her own unsuccessful attempts to have a child. Despite the grief and disappointment of that, she hasn’t stolen one. So far.

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