Q & A with Serena Kirby

Why did you decide to write your book?

When I became pregnant with my first baby at 42 I went looking for pregnancy books written for my age group. Occasionally, I stumbled across a chapter or paragraph dedicated to older mothers, and in several cases bought a book purely for its snippet of relevance. What I really wanted to read was how my older age may impact on my pregnancy, my baby, my body and my life.

But finding a book written by a mature-age mother, for mature-age mothers proved, as elusive to me as pregnancy had previously been.

The gap in information seemed strangely out of step with the fact that the number of Australian women having a baby over age 35 has tripled in the past 30 years and births to women over 40 have doubled in the past decade. Later-life mothers are also the fastest growing demographic in Britain and the US and one quarter of Australian women who have a baby later, are doing so for the very first time.

Hence, with the birth of my son, came the birth of an idea … to write a book that looked at a number of age-relevant aspects of becoming a midlife mum.

 

Who/what inspired you to write?

I’ve always wanted to be a storyteller, and while my first published book is a resource book, it’s still, in essence, a story. I enjoy sharing real life experiences blended with the opportunity to make people laugh at the strangeness of life. As we know – life IS stranger than fiction.

 

What was the most rewarding part of the writing process?

Reaching that point when you read back a sentence and don’t want to change a thing.

It’s hitting the ‘sweet spot’ – when you write a sentence or paragraph that sings with perfection and poignancy. You punch the air and shout “Oh yes!”

 

What are your top tips for writing a book?

Edit and re-edit and when you think you’ve finished – edit some more. Craft each sentence and each word to refine them into the best they can be.

 

Which books/authors have inspired you?

I was definitely inspired after reading The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and Swords & Crowns & Rings by Ruth Park as a child. Later in life, I discovered Isabel Allende’s House of the Spirits … such craft, such imagination. I’m also a big fan of Paulo Coelho and of the wonderful Hermann Hesse book Siddhartha, which left a lasting mark on me.

 

 

Why did you decide to self publish and why Palmer Higgs?

For me there was no other option. From the very first time I spoke to Joy Childs I knew this was the company for me. Not only did PH offer all the elements I needed – I instantly knew they were just as professional and committed as I was. I felt they were on my side and had my back. It’s the best decision I ever made because the journey has been wonderful.

 

What do you hope your readers get out of your book?

I hope readers gain insight into the topic of later-life motherhood as well as gain practical advice and have a few good laughs. Many women have said they’ve found the book ‘validating’ and that they can relate to what I’ve said. I hope other older mothers also find this book a comforting companion on their motherhood journey.

 

Would you consider writing another book?

Absolutely! My head is already full of ideas. Any subsequent books will form part of my Things I Wish I Had Known series so you can imagine the breadth of topics.

 

Do you have any other tips for new authors (i.e. book launch, research, marketing, etc.)?

Don’t be fooled into thinking that the job is done just because you’ve ‘finished’ the book and have a paperback in your hand. Now the real work starts … getting your book out there. Do set a budget for marketing and realise it is a very time consuming (but worthwhile) job. My second bit of advice is ‘be realistic with your sales expectations’. It’s easy to get carried away but start with a small print run as you can always reprint and the chances are you will want to make changes when you see your book in print.

 

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