Booksquawk interviews Five Go Glamping Author Liz Tipping
Interview by Hereward L M Proops
Booksquawk: Tell us a little bit about how you came to write “Five Go Glamping”.
Liz Tipping: I saw a competition with a big cash prize for writing the opening of a novel, and while I didn't think I could manage a whole novel, I thought I'd give it a go. I ended up missing the deadline for it but I uploaded the opening chapters on the authonomy website where it was spotted by a couple of editors.
Booksquawk: Have you ever been glamping?
Liz Tipping: I have! I went glamping in a yurt in Worcestershire last year just when I was finishing off Five Go Glamping. I love camping and I've got one of those tents that goes up in one minute, but it was great not having to pitch a tent at all. It was also truly excellent not having to blow up an airbed and wrestle with a sleeping bag. Plus, it had a log burner in the tent, so it was nice and warm. You still have to walk across a field to go the loo though, so it's not that glamorous.
Booksquawk: Do you have difficulty embracing the ways of the countryside like Fiona and her friends?
Liz Tipping: No, I love being in the countryside. I live on a really busy road in a city, so it's great being away from traffic and noise and people falling out of the Wetherspoons at 1am. I do miss having a good phone and internet signal when I'm away though. In fact, every time I have some kind of publishing news, like when I was offered the contract for Five Go Glamping for example, I'm always on holiday. It's frustrating not being able to respond to things like that because you don't have a phone signal.
Booksquawk: “Five Go Glamping” is unashamedly chick-lit. How do you feel about that label? Do you have any interest in other genres of fiction?
Liz Tipping: It seems that every few weeks, someone on the internet will get upset about the chick lit label, but it's never bothered me at all, in fact I love it. There's a few things that often crop up about the term and why people don't like it. one is that people consider it a derogatory term and belittling.
I suppose if you're an author and you are writing something deep and literary and then because you are a woman your book is labelled chick lit when it isn't, then that's fair enough people would be unhappy. But I think if you are writing popular women's fiction, being labelled chick lit is nothing to be ashamed of Popular culture and the culture consumed by women and particularly working class women is the most ridiculed of all. Labeling something "chick lit" to me means it's something silly and frivolous but that's not a bad things and my books ARE frivolous and silly and fun and full of daft things, so I'm cool with that. Things like soap operas, reality television and chick lit books have scorn poured on them as though they don't have any value, but fun things are just as important as more intellectual pursuits so I'm very proud to be a chick lit author.
I read in lots of genres, I love science fiction and fantasy, sagas, comedies, historical, Young Adult. The only thing I don't tend to read is horror- I love a bit of gore, but the psychological check under the bed stuff keeps me awake at night.
Booksquawk: Fiona is a very believable protagonist, how much of her is based on your own experiences?
Liz Tipping: Not a lot really, but I do find people who behave in a petty manner at work very irritating like Fiona does. I've never managed to last more than a few days working in an office, so I wouldn't have lasted ten years like Fiona did! My friend read five Go Glamping and said some of the things the characters say sound like the sorts of things i say, so I suppose there's a lot of me in the characters and how they respond to things but not in the actual experiences themselves.
Booksquawk: Food plays an important role in the book, particularly sausages. Tell us about your love of pork products.
Liz Tipping: Ha ha! Yes indeed, there are many types of sausages in the book; cocktail, hotdogs, sausage sandwiches, toad in the hole. If I could go back and change the book at all, I'd write some chorizo in and possibly salami as well. I love sausages. My favourite sausages of all are Irish sausages and it's kind of hard to get them in the UK but I have found a little Irish grocery store where I can get my hands on some Clonakilty sausages. Whenever I go to Ireland, I always bring back some Superquinns sausages. Last time I brought back 48 in my hand luggage.
Booksquawk: As a Brummie, I was pleased to see a number of references to Birmingham in the book. If you were to give a total strange the full Birmingham experience, what would it entail?
Liz Tipping: I'm becoming slightly alarmed by the amount of articles in The Guardian discussing how brilliant Birmingham is and how everyone from London should move here. We're so used to everything thinking it's rubbish here and laughing about it, that I'm not sure many more people need to know how great it is.
But if I were to take a nice Booksquawk reader for a trip around town and they promised not to move here and put the house prices up, then I'd take them on a canal boat trip from Gas St Basin and then back into town to wander around our many museums and art gallery. Then a quick hop on the metro to the Jewellery quarter for lunch. Bookish types might like to visit Sarehole Mill, one of the haunts of JRR Tolkien. We'd spend the afternoon at Cadbury World and then a night out in an Irish bar in Digbeth, followed by a Balti on the Ladypool road.
Booksquawk: Why call the dog Brian Harvey? Why not Tony Mortimer or one of the other members of East 17?
Liz Tipping: The main reason I called the dog after Brian Harvey out of East 17 is because he resembled Brian Harvey out of East 17. If he had have looked more like Tony Mortimer out of East 17, I would have definitely named him after Tony Mortimer out of East 17. Maybe this is something to think about in subsequent books.
Booksquawk: Do you have a particular routine for writing?
Liz Tipping: Kind of, I always plan to write in the morning and have the rest of the day free, but what I tend do is, faff about all day until the afternoon, and then start and end up writing into the evenings. It's kind of a stupid way of doing it. I always plan to leave the weekends free, but end up writing. With my next book, I am planning to be more organised though!
Booksquawk: Have you got anything else in the pipeline?
Liz Tipping: I've just finished my second book which at the moment is called Molly Ringwald's Cardigan so I am already thinking about my third. Probably because I read quite widely, I've had an idea for something in the "Post Apocalyptic Tomasz Schafernaker fan fic chick lit" genre but I'm not sure there's much of a market for it.
Read the review of Five Go Glamping here.