Tag Archives: daisy waugh




Candice: I had a moment the other week were I realised I was trying to be superwoman, and I had to just give up.

The week before I went on holiday I’d been to Leeds for a meeting on the Monday, London for the same on the Tuesday and then down to London again on the Wednesday night for our speaking event.  I then had a weekend of packing and child entertaining before three more days of work, two trips to the gym and then off on hols.  I remember putting a post on Facebook saying I was a little overwhelmed by everything that needed to be done  before we went away. I then also promised Phil a blog post on our Books show off experience before the flight.

Well the morning of our holiday it was spent running around like a headless chicken packing and sorting before the parents arrived to give us a lift to the airport. There were documents to print, cats to sort and children to collect.  In the middle of it all I managed to cut my finger open on a broken glass so ended up going to the airport with dried blood still on my hand!

Two days into the holiday I had finally started to relax.  We’d sorted out sleeping arrangements (child with bedroom, parents on pull out bed in lounge), where breakfast was, the best sun loungers and optimal child entertainment. I’d even managed to crack open my first book of the trip. Then I realised… the promised blog post had not been written.

And I’m sorry, Phil, I just gave up on trying to be everything to everyone.

I had really enjoyed our event in London.  I’d been quite nervous but once I got up there, as always happens, I was fine.  I actually struggled to let Phil get a word in edgeways!


But then life took over and I think that week took its toll.

Just before Erin was born Phil gave me a signed copy of a book by a lady we had been corresponding with, writer Daisy Waugh. Called “I don’t know why she bothers”, it is all about women trying to do too much for their children; baking cakes at midnight, making costumes etc.  Well this isn’t me trying to do it for my daughter, its me trying to do it for me.

I’m glad I tried to stop being a superwoman for a week.  We had a great holiday and I now feel much more relaxed as I try and get back into work.  I’m sure that frantic nature will rear its head again but I’ll be keeping it in check as best as I can.

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By sheer force of will

Henley LunchCandice: People (women mainly, to be honest) often ask me ‘how do you fit it all in?’

By that they mean: working full time, training for a half marathon, writing a blog and a book, etc etc.

My answer is ‘Its a balancing act’. Well, that’s the diplomatic answer to be honest its mainly by sheer force of will!

I’m running my post baby half marathon on Sunday. I was supposed to be running it last October, it was all part of my post Erin recovery plan: have baby, train for half marathon, get back to work. However, after a slow start due to a C Section and then my early return to work, I was starting to get in to the training.

Then I fell over. Short slip up, I thought, but oh no, they found I’d fractured a bone in my leg and all running went out the window. So I picked myself up, literally, and started again in January.

This time though its been another battle: cold weather, sports massages for dodgy quad muscles, chiropractor sessions for misalignment, flu and then this last weekend a bought of stomach bug which meant my last big run went out the window. Add to that the usual issues of new job, more travelling and balancing the child care then even just fitting in all the runs has been hard work. A lot of people would have given up and called it quits.

Then Phil and I decide to ramp it up and write another book.

Now this, more than the running at the moment, is light relief from the day to day, but just trying to fit that in is hard work. Once baby has gone to bed and you have tided up, all you want to do is collapse on the sofa. But then you have all these ideas buzzing around your head which you need to get down on paper.

Phil and I enjoyed a catch up over tea and cakes yesterday in the picturesque town of Henley in Arden, local to both of us. Ideas where discussed, plans drawn up and freckles gained in the lovely sunshine. But in the back of the mind there is always more to do to keep the house ticking over.

So why do I do it?

I could just ditch the book, the running or both and just get on with being a working mom.

Well, sometimes I wish it was that easy. But I can’t. If I don’t exercise I feel stodgy and loose my motivation in other areas (I had to do a turn round the block after the chocolate tiffin and apple strudel we shared) and the book is just something that excites me. Without those things I’d wouldn’t feel like I real existed.

The down side, always chasing my tail and feeling a bit frazzled.

Well at least, to quote Daisy Waugh’s book ‘I don’t know why she does it’, I’m not up to midnight baking cakes for class too as that would just be a step too far.


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We’ve got it covered

2229211Candice: Phil and I have had many conversations about book covers along the way.  Nine times out of ten he goes off and does something amazing with a computer, some models and his camera and comes up with more ideas.  However, we are now in discussions with our interesting book project (more to be revealed soon) and they have asked us about a cover.

We’ve been touting around one or two options for the last year and discussed how other’s book cover styles influence how readers perceive their books. But now we have the challenge ourselves.

I’m not going to go into detail on what we have been doing at the moment, but the process has made me think about how covers can date your book.  I’ve just finished reading ‘Ten steps to happiness’ by Daisy Waugh.  It’s totally different from the other books of hers I have read – Last Dance with Valentino still goes down as my favourite.  But its more in mine and Phil’s style, a romping good bit of rom com fun.  The premise is a PR guru, Jo, who has left her London contacts and set up with her husband in his crumbling pile in the country.  To save the house and farm they create a refuge from the media for disgraced celebs .  It romps though issues with the council and an underhand MP who is trying to get his hands on the house and one of the celebs to hide his true tendencies, to a satisfying conclusion.

However, the one thing I note with the front cover is the picture of a mobile phone.  It’s a Nokia from the days when everything was mono and you only had 140 characters in a text.  The book was printed in 2003.  Alongside this I went to a brand presentation last week from an ad agency, and the one thing the guy said when talking about using images in a campaign is ‘DONT USE MOBILE PHONES, THEY DATE.’  Looking back it’s so obvious, but back in the early 2000’s we probably though that was as good as mobile was going to get, not knowing about 4G and iPhones on the horizon.

So, note to Phil and I while we still explore ideas – don’t put something on the cover that will date the book.


Filed under Candice, Writing

Everyone is allowed an opinion, aren’t they?

Candice: If I’d written this post yesterday there would be a lot of expletives.  I was fuming from being bitch slapped by the breastfeeding mom nazis.  (That’s the polite version on my feelings)

I won’t go into detail but I now have an insight into why Daisy Waugh wrote the book I am currently dipping into, the one that Phil managed to get a signed copy for me.  It’s called – ‘ I don’t know why she bothers’.  I gave an opinion on something, advice I’d been passed by another mother and was pretty much told I was a bad mother for saying it.

I’m not going to review it now as I haven’t read it all yet.  I’m dipping into sections as I come across them with Erin’s development so I’ll be reading it for years.

But that, and the situation yesterday, made me think.  I, unfortunately, can come across as bossy and a bit of a know it all when it comes to life.  I’ve done a few things, travelled to a few places and have some life experience.  So when someone offers something I can add an opinion to, I often do.  However, this has caught me out a few times as people take offence and think I am trying to teach them something, though I am only trying to help.

Sometimes I just wish I could shut my trap, but I can’t help it when I see people who are in the wrong, be that driving in the middle lane of the motorway, queue jumping in a shop or making life hard for themselves as the world has convinced them that it makes them a bad mom to do it any other way.  My other half is worse on the driving gesticulation front though!

Phil and I have been to numerous events over the years about how to write.  They have been informative, useful and generally given us a few pointers (and helped us pick up some writing buddies) but they don’t have the panacea for getting that book published.

Just yesterday we got some positive feedback on the book, but in a rejection email, so we are still plugging away at it like everyone else.  But we’d like to think that a few pointers here and there can help along the way.

But I think sometimes people take everything they read on the web as gospel.  The internet can be extremely helpful but also your worst enemy, whether you are looking for ways to make a six-week old baby sleep, or ways to get your book published.  Too much information!

So I hope you like our musing on the blog but people, don’t feel that this is the be all and end all.  And when we do get published, certainly buy our books and attend our events when we talk about how to get published, but don’t forget to do it your own way.

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Signed Books

Polly CourtneyPhil: ’tis true. I did acquire a signed copy of  “I don’t know why she bothers” as a bump present for my friend a few weeks ago. It seemed a nice thing to do.

Arranging this wasn’t difficult either. An e-mail to the author pointed me in the direction of a suitable bookshop. Two phone calls later and I’d established they still had a copy from a signing session and I could have it in return for my credit card number. I think the result was a happy Nolan.

Signed books are odd things. We get all excited that the author has scrawled some words in the front when the best bits are those printed inside. With most authors, they are both written by the same person after all!

I’ve managed to sign a few bookazines myself in the last year. Being asked to do your scrawl is wonderful (Hint: Make sure your pen will write on the paper the thing is publishing in). If you are at all nervous of approaching an author for their signature, don’t be. We love it in the same way a dog likes its tummy tickled. For a start, we know that you love us. More importantly, we know someone bought our publication. Yay!

Having supervised a few book signings in a local theatre, I have watched the skilled author at work. A queue 2 dozen long can be despatched in half an hour. Every person gets a few words in both print and speech and they go away happy. The “star” gets a warm feeling of appreciation and the knowledge that the next book will find some readers.

Mind you, you do have to wonder sometimes. The picture shows Polly Courtney’s signature from the front of a copy of “Golden Handcuffs” I picked up in a charity shop. For a pound. Looking at the state of the spine, the book was unread. Well, both of us have fixed that, even if one of us wasn’t in mind when it was written…

Anyway, for the moment, you’ll have to put up with our signed website. One day, we’ll be behind the table with a big stack of books ready to be defaced.


Filed under Books, Phil

We all need a break

Orange junce@Pool sideCandice I’ve had an interesting few weeks trying to do too much in one go. It all came to a head yesterday at which point I decided I needed a break.

When Phil and I met the other week he had got me a copy of Daisy Waugh’s book, ‘ I don’t know why she bothers.‘ Signed no less. It was a really nice surprise especially as he also had a note from Daisy for me.

The title has really made me think about what has been going on and how we all push ourselves too much these days, we have to have cleaners and take out car to the car wash because we never have the time. Daisy’s book is all about working moms and how they are up baking cakes for little Tarquin’s school fete at 3am rather that saying ‘I don’t have the time, I’ll just buy one.’

So everyone, give yourself and break and go and have a nice afternoon with a good book, I certainly plan to.


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Last Dance with Valentino by Daisy Waugh

CaptureCandice : As you will remember, our little blogets (Nolanparker version of Gaga’s Monsters) we posted an interview with Daisy Waugh a few weeks ago.  So, as Phil and I were discussing the questions for Ms Waugh I thought it might be good to get some background material.  Next door to our regular tea and cake haunt in Solihull is Waterstones.  We popped in and I came away with ‘Last Dance with Valentino’.

Now, not really being a historical drama person myself, and not really being too sure what Daisy’s style was outside the Sunday Times, I didn’t know what to expect but I hoped I’d like it.

‘Dance’ is sent in the 1920’s, around Jennifer and her relationship with the man who becomes Rudolph Valentino.   They fall in love but, due to circumstances out of their control, they are then separated.  By the time she travels across America to find him again, he is gone from the hotel they are to meet at and she has no other way of getting in touch with him. So 10 long years go by before they meet again, during which time he goes from being a paid dancer to a huge movie star. I’m sure I’m not giving the game away to say Valentino dies in the end leaving Jenny lost and alone after just finding him again.

Based on actual events, Daisy has crafted a fictional story around the mysterious Jenny who Valentino is said to have cried for as he is dying.

Now, you could say I am biased, but I have to say this is the best book I have read in AGES!  I couldn’t put it down from the word go as I became totally immersed in the world of Jenny and Rudy as they fight against the class system that confines them and limited communications available at that time.  The last section, where she is trying to get in touch with him as he lies dying in the hospital literally left me desperate to know, such that I read it solidly on a train journey from London and then carried on as soon as I got home.  I don’t think I said hello to the other half as he walked in the door, I was so desperate for Jenny to get to her Rudy.

I think it helped that the book was based in fact, making the situations that they come up against much more plausible.  From my point of view, also helps that the idea of being the one true love of a famous person takes me back to when I had pin ups on my walls and hoped that one day one of them would find me and sweep me off my feet.  I also loved the drama and behind the scenes look at Hollywood, being a film buff and actor.

I’ve leant the book to my sister as I think it might make her smile and then its on its way to Phil for a boy’s view-point.  I’m now off to see what else Daisy has done as I enjoyed this one so much!



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Chatting with Miss Daisy

Phil: Wow! A proper author talking about writing on our blog. I’m still a bit amazed that you managed to pull that one off madam.

Candice: Well, I am THAT good…

Phil: I think the most surprising thing was the idea that editing was the most enjoyable part of writing a novel. I know that like most writers, as far as I am concerned the first draft contains the greatest writing the world has ever seen and I hate going back and fiddling with it. Daisy seems to consider the first draft to be a rough cut to be refined. I suppose it’s a bit like a sculptor knocking his lump of marble into something that nearly resembles a statue and then going over the stone repeatedly to refine the result.

Spending months fiddling with the opening of a book does ring a bell though. If you don’t get it right, then the reader is turned off but I wonder how easy this is when you are so close to the work. At least we can pass text to each other for feedback.

Daisy says she feels the need to write, it’s not just a means to an end, and I’m not sure that you could write a novel without passion for the story. For everything we’re produced, at least one of us has really believed in the story from the outset. Sometimes I have to write stuff just to get it out of my head. I suppose that inspiration strikes at odd times, especially when you work on historical novels. That means you have to be open to new inspiration, she must have dozens of events filed away in a mental “That will make a good story” box.

I love the idea that it’s a relief to escape into writing a novel from journalism. Disappearing into a story you have complete control over, if your characters will let you, must contrast massively with trying to work with real world events. In a novel you don’t run the risk of history proving you wrong either as many columnists found to their cost when the much derided Olympics were succesful last year.

One surprise was that Daisy writes in cafes. I’d always assumed that as succesful writer would quickly sort themselves out an office to hide in. Presumably in the part of London she lives in, the residents aren’t constantly interupting her typing to say, “Are you that Daisy Waugh? I saw you on the nolanparker blog the other day. They’re very good aren’t they. You must be so proud.”. Good to see that I’m not the only one who find the Interweb a drain on my productivity though!

Not sure about going for a run as thinking time. Far to energetic for me.

Candice: Hmmmm.

Phil: Interesting point about people fiddling with smart phones on the tube. When I visit the capital, I always reckoned you could tell who worked there because the paperback would be out and open as soon the moment its owner stopped moving on the train. Reading was an unselfconcious thing to do. As she says, there are less novels and more Angry Birds entertaining commuters nowadays. As a writer, you have to say this is a bad thing and not just because fewer books will be sold. I’m sure someone will suggest that many will be reading e-books but I suspect that once you are using a screen, the dreaded web will offer other temptations. You can’t check your e-mail in a paperback.

One thing I do get is the joy of seeing your book on sale. I’ve shuffled magazine racks in Smiths before now if something I’ve writen is in print. This couldn’t compare to the first time our novel was printed up for test readers and I picked the copies out of the box. As I recall, the only other person who would have been as thrilled as me was on holiday at the time. If that happens when The Book is published, I’m going to the printers on my own. I don’t care. I’ll be the one in Waterstones fondling the covers.


Filed under Candice, Interviews, Phil, Writing

A chat with Daisy Waugh – Part Two

Daisy WaughPart 2 of our chat with Daisy Waugh. If you missed the first installment, where were you? OK, follow this link to it. Enjoy

How long did it take to write your books?

Some take longer than others. Last Dance With Valentino took many years. But that was partly because I wrote several chick novels in between, also had several babies. Also I was learning about a new period in history. Melting the Snow on Hester Street, also set in early 20th Century America took me a year to write.

What about the editing process, does this take longer than getting the first draft down? Does the story change much during this time or have you got it pretty much planned out before starting?

The editing process is by far the longest bit. Also the most enjoyable. The first draft is fast and  pretty agonising. I always have a skeleton structure but I have no idea if what I’m writing is drivel, and a lot of it  is- But I have to force myself to keep writing and not look back.  Otherwise I can – and have – spent months and months and MONTHS fiddling with the opening  scenes of a book. It doesn’t necessarily improve them. Once you have something on paper, the editing, cutting, honing and improving is a joy – at least I think so.

How do you feel about the current state of the publishing world and book’s in general, is there still a market for writing?  How about the reading format, do you prefer books or e-reader devices like Kindle?

There will always be market for good story telling! Look how the thriller market thrives.  I think the Richard and Judy book club does a great a service to non pretentious fiction writing, by promoting good, intelligent  well written novels which are a generally a pleasure to read.

I get a bit depressed watching people on the tube fiddling vacuously with their bloody smart phones – I WISH they were reading novels. Because I think people forget what a joy it is to be lost in a good novel. I also get frustrated by the weight we give to ‘literary’ fiction. Reading novels – intelligent and well written –  is meant to be a pleasure, not an exercise in self improvement.

Don’t like Kindles. Spend all day looking at a screen – and anyway I like the smell of books.

We’ve noticed that unlike a lot of writers, you don’t have a personal website and have only recently joined Twitter. Is this a deliberate move, or do you feel that all modern writers need an online presence?

Oh god – it’s just because I haven’t got around it … There are so many other things to do. Like writing the books! And painting my children’s bedrooms. But I must I must I must ….

You’ve got a couple of new books lined up, are you ever nervous about their reception? How does it feel to walk into Waterstones and see your work on the shelf?
Melting the Snow on Hester StreetMelting the Snow on Hester Street – historical fiction set in 1920s Hollywood.  Out March 28th — I am pretty confident about this book. The difficulty isn’t getting bad reviews, it’s getting any reviews at all. Novels – unless they’re written by the heavyweights – tend to get ignored by the book pages.  It’s very, very hard to raise awareness for a novel.

I Don't Know Why She Does ItI Don’t Know Why She Bothers (Guilt Free Motherhood for Thoroughly Modern Women) is out June 4th – This book is incredibly provocative and I think I’m going to get letter bombs as a result. Not looking forward to that at all. But there’s so much sentimental, repressive bullshit surrounding modern motherhood – and as a libertarian and a feminist –  there’s a lot of stuff, I think, which badly needs to be said.

And yes – it is wonderful to see the book for sale. Usually though, you wind up feeling neurotic because – either it’s displayed in the wrong place/or it’s impossible to find… etc etc. The best part is when you first get hold of a finished book. Am watching the post daily for first editions of Melting the Snow on Hester Street — due any time now

What are your writing plans for the future?
I have a novel to begin, which needs to be delivered by Christmas. It would be lovely just to concentrate on that …
Thanks Daisy – we both really appreciate you taking the time for us.  Nolan Parker


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Waugh and Peace. A chat with Daisy Waugh – Part One

Daisy Waugh

Daisy Waugh is a journalist and travel writer, who has also worked as an Agony Aunt for The Independent and as a restaurant critic. She also wrote a weekly column from Los Angeles, presented for Channel Four’s Travelogue show and also contributed to Radio Four’s You and Yours.

Daisy has had two previous novels published to great critical acclaim, What is the matter with Mary Jane? and in January 2002, The New You Survival Kit.

Her travel book about living in Northern Kenya, A Small Town in Africa, was also very well received. She now lives in West London with her husband and two children.

Last year Candice was really cheeky and asked her if she’d do an interview for us. She agreed! So here it is, in two parts for your reading pleasure.

Well, we thought we might as well try and find out what being a proper author is all about…

Where do you find the inspiration for your writing? Do you write what you know, or is about finding something that interests you and then researching it?

I write historical fiction – so part of the inspiration comes from real events. How my fictional characters respond to those events comes from my imagination. I also try to draw parallels from my own experiences and observations.  Imagining what other people are thinking and feeling is the job of a novelist. I spend a lot of time staring at strangers and doing just that.  

Do you enjoy the writing process or is it just a means to an end?

I love writing – and have always written, since I was a young child and I would be quite out of kilter of I ever stopped. On the other hand – obviously – sometimes I just want to leave the bloody computer and play tennis, or paint my children’s bedrooms (which is what’s hanging over me right now) or lie in bed and read someone else’s novel… Writing is a means to an end – I live off it. But I love it, and I would be wretched if I stopped.

Describe your typical writing day. Where and how do you work?

Melting the Snow on Hester StreetI walk les enfants to school …come home … muck about on email and twitter … go for a run (which is good thinking time) …. and set out into town with my laptop. I often go to the London Library, which a lot of writers use as a place to work. Sometimes I don’t get as far as the London Library, having stopped off at sundry coffee bars (with plugs for the laptop) along the way.  There is one cafe that doesn’t have wifi. When things are very desperate and I can’t seem to knuckle down, I go there.

For the last few years I have been working very hard – four books and minimum one column per week in the last five years — plus three young children… and  I am a bit puffed out at the moment. I have another novel to write by December, edits on my Mothering book  (I Don’t Know Why She Bothers – Guilt Free Mothering for Thoroughly Modern Women, published June 4th) to deliver within the next few weeks, and a lot promotion work for the novel Melting the Snow on Hester Street, which is out at the end of March…. 

How do you move from newspaper columns to novels? Have you ever written short stories, have you found them useful in moving into novel writing?

It is always a relief to escape into the novels. Journalism requires a sort of brittle front which – after all these years – I have learned to take on and off when required… I have written short stories, mostly for charitable collections. The fact is there isn’t much of a market for them and with all the other writing commitments I don’t have time… I am not sure why they would be useful for moving into novel writing, beyond the fact that they are shorter – they’re bloody hard to write.

In our next post, on Thursday, we’ve talked some more about the writing process and also a quick look to the future.


Filed under Books, Interviews, Writing