Kerry Fisher writes, as she says, “contemporary fiction for women who’ve lived long enough not to expect a fairytale.” She lives in Surrey (UK) with her husband and adult-but-not-quite-left-home son and daughter.
Her stories showcase women’s lives and family dramas. They’re relatable, engrossing, heartwarming and humorous as they highlight the extraordinary in every ordinary life. She says, “That’s what fascinates me about ordinary lives—the affairs, the extreme lengths parents will go to protect their children, the bad—often split second—choices people make that affect the rest of their lives.”
Her newest book, The Woman in my Home, will be out May 20, 2022. It’s described as “a gripping read about family secrets and lies. Perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Diane Chamberlain.”
Kerry kindly answered a few questions about her decision to write for (somewhat) older women, working with a digital publisher, and her nonfiction book about dealing with grief.
I love your description from your Facebook profile: “I write contemporary fiction for women who’ve lived long enough not to expect a fairytale.” How did you decide to focus on women who are in their fifties and sixties?
I think the stage of life where women are juggling young adult children who haven’t quite left home, aging parents and often long marriages, or blended families, is a very interesting and intense one. There are so many competing demands on them…They still have time to realize their dreams, but the years no longer feel limitless in the way they do when you’re twenty. Most women in their fifties and sixties have had the horrible experience of seeing one of their peers die far too young. It’s a sobering thought; we all assume we’ve got another twenty or thirty years, but we might only have another five.
I think that can lend a dynamism and urgency to women when their children leave home and they take a moment to think, ‘Is this it? Is this how the rest of my days are going to play out?’ I know so many women who’ve started again, either because they got divorced, their spouse died, or they’ve known disaster in some form or another. I’m always impressed by women’s resilience and resourcefulness and I want to reflect this in my writing.
I also like that you write about the lives of ordinary women and families. Any tips for showing the extraordinary in ordinary lives?
You just have to listen and be open to hearing stories. The best fictional stories are ones with conflict, dilemmas, secrets and lies, extreme emotion and a variety of paths which might or might not lead to a good outcome, which in my experience reflects pretty much any family. There are very few people who glide through life unscathed. That’s what fascinates me about ordinary lives: the affairs, the extreme lengths parents will go to protect their children, the bad—often split second—choices people make that affect the rest of their lives; the way life can turn on a sixpence through death, unexpected events, inheritances, addictions, discovering a secret; the compromises people make to stay married, to maintain a relationship with their children, their parents…I bet if all of us looked around at our five closest friends, there’d be a secret, a drama, a dysfunction that would be quite surprising and worthy of a story. All of my books are sparked by a tiny grain of truth I have heard, observed or read about.
If you have a writing routine, can you briefly describe it?
My writing routine completely frustrates me. It doesn’t matter how early I get up, I simply cannot get myself to my desk before 11. So now—this is a COVID habit—I walk for two hours every morning in the Surrey hills where I live so at least my procrastination keeps me healthy, fit, and counteracts the negative effects of sitting at a desk for eight hours a day.
Once I get started, I set a timer for 20 minutes and refuse to get distracted by anything else. I do that over and over again, with little breaks for domestic chores; such is the glamour of life! I stick the washing on, defrost the chicken for dinner, run the vacuum cleaner around and then get back to my desk until I’ve written 2000 words a day. Sometimes that’s easy and often it’s hard. I try extra hard to concentrate in the summer, so I can get out in my garden for a few hours after work. It keeps me sane.
You’re published with Bookouture. Can you provide any insight on the benefits of working with a digital publisher, particularly for those (like me!) who aren’t as far along in their publishing journey?
I absolutely ADORE my publisher. My editor is so smart and can always pinpoint what needs doing to make the book better. Sometimes that does not fill me with joy because I know it’s going to be several weeks work, but she’s always right.
The benefits of digital publishing if you are with a good publisher, among many others, is the speed to market. I finished the first draft of a book in December, completed the edits in March (five meticulous rounds of editing and proofreading, so no corner cutting in the editorial process) and it will be out in May. That process can take much longer with a traditional publisher.
Also in my experience, digital publishers can react to the market very quickly and adjust the price or cover or back cover blurb when necessary.
From my point of view, I love the fact that I don’t have the pressure (and guilt if they don’t sell!) of 20,000 paperbacks gathering dust in a warehouse, but people can still buy a print on demand paperback if they prefer to read that way.
Can you briefly describe your upcoming release, The Woman in My Home?
Cath is a woman of a certain age who falls in love with Robin, a man no one else likes. When he moves in with her at the same time as her adult son returns home and her mother has an accident, she employs a live-in housekeeper to help her.
Cath is unprepared for how quickly her new employee becomes privy to every detail of her life, and it slowly becomes clear that as well as knowing all of Cath’s secrets, she is harboring some of her own. As Cath finds herself increasingly out of step with friends and family, the question she must ask herself is ever more urgent: why are the people around her spoiling her second chance at happiness and who can she trust?
Anything else you’d like to highlight?
As well as ten novels, I’ve also written a non-fiction book (Take My Hand: How to be Hopeful in a Time of Grief) with a very close friend. It was the product of the most awful time in our lives. My then 17-year-old son had cancer and during that same period, her own 17-year-old son died.
We wrote the book we would have liked to have read to help us process the enormity of what had happened to us. It’s probably the book of which I am proudest because we’ve received so many messages from other people saying it’s really helped them understand their feelings, and to forgive others for their clumsy comments or for simply disappearing in the face of their pain.