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Fiona Perrin: 'Take any chances you can'

BY Katie Smart
10th May 2018

Fiona Perrin is the forty-third CBC student with a book deal, and the fourth student from a particular 2012 London course cohort to sell her book, joining Lisa Williamson, Maria Realf and James Hall. Lots of this group are still meeting up regularly, and supporting each others' work. It's fantastic to see this paying off so well for them. Fiona's debut novel The Story After Uswill be published in July by Aria (Head of Zeus). Her novel follows protagonist Ami who has two children, a terrifyingly large mortgage, and no idea who she is, or why she and her husband can't even be in the same room anymore ... Fiona tells us more below:Your debut novel The Story After Us will be published by Head of Zeus this July with a second book to come. How does working on that second novel feel different from your debut? The Story After Us was several years in the writing. There was the whole day job/kids reason, like loads of other writers, but this was also a lengthy apprenticeship – I knew the story I wanted to write but I had a lot to learn. So far, the next one is easier, as I am putting into practice what I’ve learned about plot, pace, characters and story arcs - but ask me again when I’m close to the deadline. The Story After Us looks at a family which is less-than picture-perfect. What inspires you to write about contemporary relationships and what comes after happily ever after? I wanted to write about a family that reflects the reality of many women – our families are no longer two-up, two-down, they don’t look like they belong in a magazine spread, but they are still full of love and laughter. I’m also divorced and good mates with my ex-husband while happily married to my second; and I’ve been a single parent. I wanted to reflect the hope that can come even if happy ever after doesn’t work out in the traditional way. You were a student on our 2012 novel writing course taught by Chris Wakling in the same group as Maria Realf, James Hall and Lisa Williamson who have all also been published. It was fantastic to hear that so many in your group have kept in touch, how has it felt to see so much success amongst your cohort? It has been so exciting. Our spin-off group has met up rain or shine every fortnight for years and they have been a fantastic support for me. Seeing our hard work pay off has been so fulfilling – and there is a lot more success to come from Class of 2012. How did your time on the course change the way you approached novel writing? I thought I had a good grasp of what I was doing but of course, I didn’t. I threw away more than half of my existing word count, changed point of view and learned to edit, edit and edit again. Plus, there were clearly some jokes where I was the only person laughing… they had to go, sadly. If you could give new authors any advice on securing an agent and/or a book deal what wisdom would you pass on? My agent is Diana Beaumont at Marjacq and she is the best. Her editorial input made The Story After Us so much better. So, find an agent who is willing to invest in you and trust their expert guidance. And take any chances you can – Diana tweeted about wanting books about motherhood, so I emailed her my submission there and then. After the release of your second book do you have any thoughts on what comes next for you? I would love there to be a third and a fourth and onwards. My books have a lot of comedy in amongst the drama, so it’s a complete pleasure to sit at my desk and snigger to myself about what my characters are getting up to. I feel as if I have so many stories yet to tell. Find out more about The Story After Us here.If you would like to take one of our selective entry novel writing courses like Fiona did we are currently open for submissions to our Autumn six-month courses both in London and online.Discover the other novel writing courses we are currently offering on our courses page.