Today's guest: Fiona Neill Why we love her: She's written a standout book, one that will stick with us for a long time.
Her latest: What the Nanny Saw
The scoop on it: It’s the summer of 2008. For the past decade Nick and Bryony Skinner and their four children have ridden high on the economic boom, but their luck is about to run out. Suddenly, the privileged family finds itself at the center of a financial scandal: their Central London house is besieged by the press, Nick disappears, and Bryony and the children become virtual prisoners in their own home. And Ali, their trusted nanny, watches it all. As the babysitter, she brings a unique insider-outsider perspective to the family, seeing far more than even the family itself is capable of. But when a reporter with a personal connection to the story comes asking her for the inside scoop, will Ali remain loyal to the family who never saw her as anything other than the help? Or will she tell her side?
Our thoughts: It's a novel that demands your full attention- in a good way. It's incredibly well-written, the scenes so realistic that you can envision yourself smack in the middle of the story.
Giveaway: FIVE copies! Just leave a comment and be entered to win. We'll select the winners after 3pm on Monday, August 27th.
Fun fact: Her first novel, The Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy has been optioned to be a TV series in the US.
Where you can read more about Fiona Neill: Her website.
CHICK LIT IS NOT DEAD PRESENTS...FIONA NEILL'S 5 THINGS I'D TELL THE TEEN ME
1. Wear a bikini. Youth is lovely, beautiful and effortless so make the most of it. I look back at photos of myself as a teenager and can’t believe how critical I was about my appearance. Teenagers have wonderful bodies in all shapes and sizes. Appreciate it and don’t over-analyze tiny flaws. And be kind to your hair. I had a perm. It looked terrible and required too much upkeep.
2. Parents are mostly right. ‘You’re wearing too much make-up.’ ‘Thirteen is too young to see the Sex Pistols live, even if it might be their last concert.’ ‘I’m picking you up at midnight even if the party is meant to end at 3am.’ ‘Your grandfather’s long johns are not a good look.’ I grew up on a remote farm in rural East England with fairly strict Scottish parents. My friend’s parents were all very laissez faire and Bohemian and I resented the way my parents interfered in my life. I now realize that they prevented me from developing many of the vices that have plagued the lives of some of my contemporaries. They also made me work in the holidays from a young age, which engendered a good work ethic.
3. Don’t burn your diaries. Sometime in my late teens I re-read the diaries I had assiduously kept on a daily basis since I was eleven and decided to destroy them. Obviously they were a testimony to the mood swings and utter self-absorption of adolescence and had no literary value. But now that I have teenage children and am writing teenage characters in my novels, I wish that could read through them to remind myself how it all felt. I would like to pick up the threads of who I was then to see how it impacted on who I am and what I do now.
4. Don’t give up sport. This isn’t post-Olympic euphoria. Until I was sixteen, I played sport six days a week at school. Then when I had the choice to give up, I abandoned it in a fit of pique and stopped taking regular exercise for the next two decades. It has taken me years to make the association between exercise and emotional and physical wellbeing and I wish someone had pointed this out for me before I became a couch potato. Now I am fitter than I have been since I was eighteen.
5. Stop obsessing over Mark Robbins (not his real name). Your friends are right. He is taking up too much headspace and you would be much better off reading even more books, playing sport, writing about subjects other than him in your diary and wondering if your saggy knees (I know) might be putting him off making a move. He is now a very over-weight, bald middle-aged man who sells industrial storage space. Don’t waste time on people who don’t make you feel good about yourself and sidetrack you from the things that you are really interested in.
Thanks, Fiona! xoxo,
Liz & Lisa