Romantic, Moi?

Recently I had the privilege of taking part in HarperCollins’ Festival of Romance, where I’m slightly ashamed to say I was probably the least romantic author there…If you’re interested in reading my author questionnaire, here it is below. Do let me know whether or not you are romantic…

Tell us about yourself…IMG_2036
Most people who live near me will recognise me as the woman with mad hair racing after the naughty black dog with the picnic/model aeroplane/Zimmer frame/kite in her mouth. Otherwise when the dog’s asleep, I’m a relatively normal wife to an astonishingly tolerant man and mother to a teenage son and a 12-year-old daughter.

Tell us about your latest book
The School Gate Survival Guide, out in ebook on 3 July and paperback on 11 September (Avon, HarperCollins) is about school gate snobbery – a modern My Fair Lady story about how hard it can be to belong.

When did you start writing?
I started writing travel guidebooks when I worked as a holiday rep in Italy shortly after leaving university. Then I was a journalist for many years and finally found my niche in fiction writing about five years ago.

Tell us about your experience of getting a literary agent
How long have you got? Suffice to say, I know who the good guys are because of the lovely rejections they’ve written to me. I took heart from Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help – I saw her speak at Guildford Library and she said she had 67 rejections over five years. I vowed that I would use 67 as my magic number before giving up on a book. In the end, after many rejections over four years across three novels, I found an agent quite easily because I already had an editor at Avon interested in my work.

When did you get your first book deal?
Bizarrely, I got my first book deal on the same day I found my lovely agent, Clare Wallace (Darley Anderson). She offered me representation in the afternoon and when I got home that night there was a two-book deal from Avon in my inbox. That was August 2013.

What tips would you give to other aspiring romance authors?
Learn as much as you can about writing and be prepared to ‘hear’ your feedback rather than fall into the trap of thinking that people who don’t shout ‘Genius!’ don’t know what they are talking about. Network like mad. Go to writing festivals, learn as much as you can from other authors, make writing friends and don’t forget to give back.

Where do your write?
Because the dog thinks that I clearly don’t have anything to do if I’m sitting down, I have to hide in Starbucks, where I write 1000 words a day.

Where do you look for writing inspiration?
Because I write stories about ordinary women, I tend to get inspiration from what my friends are talking about. The brilliant thing about being a writer is that no occasion is ever wasted – you can always sit and watch how people interact, however boring the event.

Which other authors do you admire?
Rachael Lucas (Sealed with a Kiss) and Tina Seskis (A Step Too Far) for writing excellent books, self-publishing them with the sort of aplomb I could only dream of and having the nous to use their success to springboard into traditional publishing deals.

Are you on social media?
I am…it’s taken me a while to feel confident there but I really enjoy Twitter (@kerryfswayne). I love the fact that my readers can contact me directly – I’m always so delighted to hear from them. It’s also a great place to keep on top of what’s happening in the publishing world – or any world that interests you.


IMG_2028aWhere were you born?
Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

What is your earliest memory?
Running around the garden with my golden retriever puppy.

Where do you live now?
I live near Reigate, Surrey. My garden backs onto the M25, which is a huge selling point.

Dog or cat person?
I get enough disdain from the children so I don’t need a cat looking down on me when I’m sweating away on the Wii Fit. Definitely a dog person – when we first got our dog, I was very ‘It’s just a dog, she’ll have to eat dried food and go to the kennels’ but now she’s the one getting organic this and that, while the husband makes do with an omelette. She loves the dogsitter so much, she parks her bottom and won’t get into the car to come home when we’ve been on holiday.

When were you happiest?
Everyone expects you to say something momentous like the birth of my children (knackering and sore) but I didn’t really expect to ‘settle down’ – I was very free-spirited in my youth and loved travelling but of course, that can be lonely too. So I always feel a huge sense of joy when my husband and kids meet me off a plane and I’m going back to a home that’s filled with the chaos of family life.

What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?
The same advice I give to my daughter now: ‘It’s not what you’ve got, it’s who you are. Fill your life with people who are generous of spirit, can laugh at themselves and don’t keep count.’

What was your most embarrassing date?
My then boyfriend turning up dressed like Adam Ant complete with white nose stripe to go to the cinema. He missed his bus home and I made my mother chase after it in the car because I couldn’t bear to be seen with him one second longer.

What is your favourite romantic moment?
Despite writing about romance, I am utterly unromantic – I’m probably the only woman who loves getting saucepans and vacuum cleaners for Christmas. Top of my romance list is the husband putting the bins out without being asked.

What do you wish for when you blow out the candles?
In the current countdown to publication of The School Gate Survival Guide, my big wish is that I won’t have to go on Twitter and announce my novel is number 400,000 in the Kindle charts.

What is your favourite smell?
Norfolk sea air and sweet peas.

What book would you choose to take on a desert island?
The New Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors – my wonderful editor, Helen Bolton, recommended it to me and it answers all those lovely questions about whether ‘powwow’ has a hyphen or ‘god’ has a capital…I love all that grammatical pedantry and I never have time to absorb it.

What music would you choose to take on a desert island?
Abba. You can’t be depressed if you’ve got Abba to sing to. Let’s hope there’s no rum there, otherwise I’ll be thinking I’m the Dancing Queen.

Three people you’d like to be stranded on a desert island with.
I should choose someone like Bear Grylls but I’d have to say my best friend from university days, Maria. We’ve travelled in all sorts of challenging circumstances and we’ve always seen the funny side, plus she’s very charming so if anyone could persuade a ship to stop for us, it would be her. I’m going to stick to one person, as I know she wouldn’t eat me if we ran out of food.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
I’d love to come up with something original here but I’m going to say my husband for just being a thoroughly decent human being and my kids – well – who’d have thought the woman who’d never picked up a baby before they were born would love them in such a ferocious fashion?

What is your favourite romantic song?
It’s a cliché – no clichés allowed – but I still love Wet, Wet, Wet’s Love is All Around. I had it at my wedding in the late nineties along with thirty million other couples. Though I can’t help picturing Bill Nighy now when I hear it.

What is your favourite romantic film? Love Actually and Dirty Dancing

Do you believe in love at first sight?
Come on, I’m the woman who prefers bins being taken out to flowers…I think that’s a no.

The School Gate Survival Guide is out as an ebook on 3 July…perfect holiday read:


  1. I’m not romantic either, although I love reading and watching about other people being so. If I can cry at it, even better. But just because I’m not romantic, it’s no excuse for my husband to slack off! :-)

    • Wendy…I couldn’t agree more…I’m not romantic, although oddly enough I enjoy reading about romance and writing it. Bizarre, isn’t it? Like leading an alternative life! Thanks for reading!

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