What better way to celebrate publication day for The Silent Wife than to have an interview with Kerry Fisher, an author whose writing I love (you can read my review of The Island Escape here) and I’ve met and found to be so lovely.
The Silent Wife is published today 24th February 2017 by Bookouture and is available for purchase in e-book and paperback here.
The Silent Wife
Lara’s life looks perfect on the surface. Gorgeous doting husband Massimo, sweet little son Sandro and the perfect home. Lara knows something about Massimo. Something she can’t tell anyone else or everything Massimo has worked so hard for will be destroyed: his job, their reputation, their son. This secret is keeping Lara a prisoner in her marriage.
Maggie is married to Massimo’s brother Nico and lives with him and her troubled stepdaughter. She knows all of Nico’s darkest secrets – or so she thinks. The one day she discovers a letter in the attic which reveals a shocking secret about Nico’s first wife Caitlin. Will Maggie set the record straight or keep silent to protect those she loves?
For a family held together by lies, the truth will come at a devastating price.
An Interview with Kerry Fisher
Hi Kerry. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing and your latest novel The Silent Wife. Firstly, please could you tell us a little about yourself?
Can I say first of all THANK YOU for having me and for all your support, I appreciate it very much indeed.
I write contemporary women’s fiction about real women, women you could imagine having coffee with, bumping into at the school gates or having as a sister-in-law or best friend. When I’m not doing that, I’m either doing Pilates to undo all the evil that sitting at a computer for hours on end causes, or running after my ridiculously friendly Lab/Giant Schnauzer who feels that the world is just awaiting her arrival to make everyone’s day complete. Home life is two teenagers and a remarkably tolerant husband. My son is learning to drive at the moment so I’m ageing in five year chunks every time I go out with him.
And tell us a bit about The Silent Wife (without spoiling the plot of course!)
It’s the story of two women, both second wives, married to two brothers from the same Italian family. The two women couldn’t be more different but their tricky circumstances lead to them forming an unlikely friendship. Maggie is living under the shadow of the ‘perfect’ first wife who died, leaving Maggie with an angry thirteen-year-old stepdaughter to win round. The other, Lara, is living a lie, pretending to have the perfect home and a marriage to envy but longing to escape. Then Maggie discovers a secret about her husband’s first wife and faces a terrible dilemma – keep silent and protect her new husband and her own marriage – or blow the family apart?
The Silent Wife is out today (congratulations). How do you celebrate publication day?
I always have a bit of fizz on publication day…any excuse! But I’ll probably do what I always do, walk the dog, write more of book five, then have a better than average dinner with my family. I’d love to sound more exotic and exciting but actually, unlike my restless 20-year-old self, I like nothing more than snuggling up with the dog and the family to watch a film (with a simple plot!), with an open fire. Bliss.
Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?
I find coming up with an idea that sustains my interest for the six months/year it takes to write the book the most difficult. Sometimes I think I’ll never have a good idea again. I love writing the scenes where the villain finally gets his or her comeuppance. I do like a bit of fictional fighting!
What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?
It’s so not glamorous but I write in Starbucks most mornings…have to get away from the dog sitting there looking so doleful because I’m not moving towards the front door to walk. Cutting off from the whole domestic scene with an endless to-do list is essential for creative headspace.
When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?
I love JoJo Moyes, Liane Moriarty and Suzanne Bugler. Recently I read Beneath a Burning Sky by Jenny Ashcroft – I don’t normally read historicals but the essence of the novel was the most amazing love story. I was completely bereft when I’d finished. I’ve just started A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart, which is funny and sad. I’m really enjoying it.
I love your writing as I feel it represents real women like me so effectively. Do you have a particular reader profile in mind as you write?
I find it so flattering that you say that! Thank you. Actually, this sounds so vain, but I write the books I’d like to read… to paraphrase Maggie in The Silent Wife – ‘I’ve lived long enough not to expect the fairytale!’ I am fascinated by family dynamics and how messy they can become, how, even in middle age, women still have friendship issues, get jealous, restless, dissatisfied. I love to write about real women who don’t always get it right, whose children – or husbands – might sometimes behave terribly but unlike real life where you can’t always dictate the outcome, I do like a happy ending. Or at least a note of hope!
Your love of travel impacts on your writing. How do you research the settings for your writing?
I had terrible wanderlust in my youth, so I lived in Corsica, Spain and Italy before coming back to England in my late twenties. I write the settings from experience. I still love nothing more than turning up in a place I’ve never visited before and knowing that it’s all to discover.
On your website you encourage your readers to get in touch to tell you about themselves. Are you genuinely interested, or naturally nosy and how likely are these readers to find themselves in a future book?
I am genuinely interested! I love hearing from readers and it makes my day when they get in touch – I think there’s somehow an idea that authors will be too busy to read or respond to readers who send messages but the reverse is true, for me, at least – I am always delighted to hear from them. I am also naturally nosy though – earwigging on conversations on the train, listening in cafes – I talk to anyone and everyone – it’s astonishing the stories people tell me – and you never know where a germ of an idea is going to spring from. That said, all my characters are genuinely fictional – it’s too constraining to base a character on someone real, because you tend to want to stick to the truth rather than what makes the best story.
You use humour in your writing and, having met you, I know you’re a vivacious and humorous person in real life. How do you manage the balance between the comedy and pathos as you write?
Oooh, what a good question! I suppose a lot of my humour comes from a desire to pick away at pretension or snobbery. Even in horrid circumstances, there’s often a humorous side to things. In The Silent Wife, Maggie is invited to the anniversary gathering at the first wife’s graveside. Obviously that makes her feel awkward but instead of feeling sorry for herself, she says, ‘‘I could think of things I’d rather do. Like sniff chilli up my nose, mistake Deep Heat for Canesten, sever a limb with a cheese wire.’ No one wants to read about someone whining about their terrible lot all the time, so I try and balance their unhappiness at their situation with a bit of internal humour.
Much of your writing explores identity and truth. Why are these themes so important to you?
I was brought up with my father’s mantra: ‘Don’t lie and you won’t ever have to remember what you’ve said.’ It’s a fantastic philosophy to live by and apart from the odd white lie to save someone’s feelings, I manage pretty well. I can’t stand a liar or a cheat, but by the same token, I’m not sure everyone appreciates my honesty always either! People often change their identities to fit in and that fascinates me – some people take on the opinions of the stronger personalities around them, like a chameleon, to the point that they forget who they were originally.
There’s a secret at the heart of The Silent Wife. Have you got a secret of your own you’d like to confess?
I don’t think I have a single secret that someone doesn’t know – I’m incredibly open, which sometimes gets me into trouble. I don’t take myself too seriously but obviously there are embarrassing things I prefer people not to know about me. Like the fact that this year I didn’t get round to taking my Christmas tree down until February. And the year before I left it up all year…
If you hadn’t become an author, what would you have done instead as a creative outlet?
I would have loved to have been an actress but was too shy when I was younger. I was fascinated by foreign languages from an early age and speak fluent French, Spanish and Italian, so I thought I might become an interpreter at some point.
Do you have other interests that give you ideas for writing?
I am a big socialiser – I love cooking – nothing gives me greater pleasure than having a houseful, with everyone sitting round drinking and eating. My ideas always come from ordinary conversations with people I know – listening to what they worry about, what offends them, what makes them angry.
If you could choose to be a character from The Silent Wife, who would you be and why?
I’d definitely be Beryl, Maggie’s outspoken, but warm-hearted mother. I’m often far too polite to give people both barrels when they are being rude and arrogant – usually I fume internally, try harder to make them like me and offer them a cup of tea. In my next life, I’m not going to let them get away with it.
If The Silent Wife became a film, who would you like to play Maggie and why would you choose them?
I’m useless at choosing actors/actresses because I never watch TV and for someone who relies on plot for a living, I can barely follow a film if there’s more than one twist in it. My son gets enraged at having to pause it and explain what is going on. Can I say the ideal would be a young Julie Walters – funny, feisty and ultimately kind? And a ‘young’ Julie Walters, not because she isn’t brilliant as she is but because Maggie is only thirty-five…
Thanks again Kerry for your time in answering my questions.
About Kerry Fisher
Born in Peterborough, Kerry Fisher studied French and Italian at Bath University, followed by several years working as an English teacher in Corsica and Spain before topping the dizzying heights of holiday rep and grape picker in Tuscany. She eventually succumbed to ‘getting a proper job’ and returned to England to study Periodical Journalism at City University. After two years working in the features department at Essentials magazine in London, love carried her off to the wilds of the West Pennine moors near Bolton. She now lives in Surrey with her husband (of whisking off to Bolton fame), two teenagers and a very naughty lab/schnauzer called Poppy. Kerry can often be seen trailing across the Surrey Hills whistling and waving pieces of chicken while the dog practises her ‘talk to the tail’.
Kerry has spent half her life talking about writing a novel, then several years at Candis magazine reviewing other people’s but it wasn’t until she took some online courses with the UCLA (University of California) that the dream started to morph into reality, culminating in the publishing of The Class Ceiling. The Avon imprint of HarperCollins picked it up and retitled it The School Gate Survival Guide, published summer 2014. Her second book, The Island Escape, came out in May 2015. It won first prize at the York Festival of Writing for the opening line: ‘I was wearing the wrong bra for sitting in a police cell’.