Challenge Participant


Friday, 13 January 2012

Author Interview and Giveaway - Mink Elliott

Today I am very pleased to welcome Mink Elliott to my blog. Mink is a journalist, who has worked on many magazines in both the UK and Australia, and was the deputy editor of the magazine Practical Parenting. She has previously written 'The Pissed Off Parent's Club' and is now back with her second book, 'Just Another Manic Mum-Day' which I will be reviewing on this blog shortly.

I notice that you were the deputy editor of Practical Parenting Magazine. I know when I was pregnant and had young children that I found the magazine to be a very useful magazine to read – lots of handy advice and tips and also viewpoints from experts and also, more importantly, other mums. Was this an inspiration for ‘Just another Manic Mum Day’ cafe where parents could get together and discuss concerns or worries they don’t want to bother doctors and/or health visitors with?

Well, no, not really. Not that I’m aware of...maybe subconsciously? I think Practical Parenting is a great mag, too – but the inspiration for the cafe in Just Another Manic Mum-Day came from personal experience. I often felt unwelcome with my kids in the cafes I used to go to – the pram was unwieldy, constantly getting in the waitresses’ way, and more often than not, the kids would get bored and act up, making the break in the cafe anything but restful, relaxing or remotely recharging! I found it so difficult to feed a baby/wipe sticky hands / perform the Heimlich manoeuvre on a choking toddler while simultaneously carrying on an adult conversation that in the end, I just stopped going to cafes altogether. Which meant that my social life died a swift, but certainly not painless death. As a mum, I needed other mums to talk to – people who understood how I felt; people who could reassure me that things would get easier as the kids got older (or at least that the hardships would be different); people who’d been there and done it and had the sick stains on their shoulder pads to prove it. Doctors and health visitors just didn’t cut it for me, for the real nitty-gritty of what it means to be a mum. But if a cafe existed where mums could talk uninterrupted to each other, where the kids would be happy and occupied, where mums could get good advice about all their changing relationships, where they felt welcome and wanted and could have a laugh and manage to get through a cup of tea while it was still hot...well, then. And so Just Another Manic Mum-Day was born.    

Would you ever be interested in setting up a cafe just for parents and their children – and would you enjoy sharing your advice and experiences with the customers?

God, yes! I would absolutely love to do that! And I would have so much fun – not to mention learn so much – sharing stories with customers. Unfortunately, I think I’d eat all the profits (or at least all the pastries, so we wouldn’t make any profit!) and I don’t think I have the patience or the energy or, indeed, the basic maths to set up a cafe.

The cafe sounds like a fantastic idea – many Internet forums have been set up for parents to share their ideas, voice their concerns or to find a friendly ear to listen to their worries – the cafe would be a great extension to this idea. Have you ever taken part in one of these forums and was it a starting point for the cafe idea?

I am actually a bit of a Luddite when it comes to all this new-fangled technology, so when someone mentions forums to me, the first thing that comes to my mind is curly-haired men in togas having complicated philosophical discussions in ancient Rome. So, no, Internet chat rooms (if they are the same things as forums?!) weren’t a starting point for the cafe idea. Now, though, I’m getting my own website up and running and going on Facebook and even tentatively dipping a toe into the sea of Twitter, so I hope to get the hang of it all soon. But thanks for the heads up, Sarah - now I’ll never get any work done, making up for lost time lounging about in cyber cafes all day! 

Did your time spent working on magazines give you lots of ideas for books?

No, I don’t think so. I was usually too busy worrying about the magazine folding or recovering from yet another night’s ‘fretting’ (i.e. having 12 too many cocktails with everyone else on the team) to think about ideas for books. I always wanted to write a book, like loads of other people who work on magazines, but I had no ideas and thought it was just another far-fetched fantasy that would never come to fruition. Come to think of it, though, the book I’m writing at the minute sees the main character working in PR at a magazine publishing house and her boyfriend is the Editor of a men’s mag, so... But the ideas, the main plots for the books usually come from some emotional situation in my or a friend’s life that I think might resonate with lots of other people. For instance, I’ve never opened up a cafe, but I did feel that disconnect from the world once I became a full-time mum. I’ve longed for quiet time on my own to sip a cup of tea and contemplate my navel (let alone get any work done!) – but when you have children and you don’t have any paid help, you can kiss that scenario goodbye. For a while, at least. So no, it wasn’t working on magazines that gave me lots of ideas for books – it was having kids. Because kids change everything – your priorities, your outlook, your relationships, your behaviour, your figure – all for the better, of course... Well, except for maybe your figure!

Will you continue to write about families with young children or do you think you will use your time spent on more!, Bliss and J-17 to write about older children in future books?

I imagine that as myself and my kids get older, so, too will the characters in my books, funnily enough (see answer to Question 6) and yes, my experiences of teenagers at those mags may well come in handy! All I want, though, is to develop and learn and really grow as a novelist. And I hope, one day, to get really good at it, whether it be writing about families with young children or teenagers or gardening or Medieval maidens or UFOs or whatever. As long as the ideas, stories and characters keep me awake at night, refusing to leave me alone, then I’ll continue to try and get it all down to the best of my ability. Number Two on my wish list is that I’ll be lucky enough to keep on writing about stuff that matters to me and getting published for a long time yet (Number One is that my family are all healthy and happy). And as long as I love it – I mean, really love it, like getting that lost-in-a-movie feeling, unaware of the passage of time and thinking that there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing when I’m alone, writing – then I’ll keep at it.   

Are any of the characters within your books autobiographical or based on any real friends?

Oh yes! Although my Editor (hi Bex!) is always on at me to lose the autobiographical stuff, I still find it quite difficult – especially when you’re writing in the first person. But while I admit some of it is a bit autobiographical, I won’t reveal which bits! And so what if many of my friends’ personalities have shamelessly been plundered for characters in my books? I still won’t tell you who they are in real life or which parts I stole. And anyway, I think everyone does that to a certain extent when they’re writing, don’t they? It’s like whoever is around you and whatever’s happening at the time of writing influences you enormously. But there’s also a massively strong element of fantasy and wishful thinking and imagination in there too, I think. For the most part, though, both The Pissed-Off Parents Club and Just Another Manic Mum-Day are, in actual fact, fiction. The characters contain pieces of me and my friends, and the feelings they have are, I think, universal - but the situations they find themselves in are made up.

And on that bombshell, I’m off to my favourite cafe for a cuppa.  

Great talking to you, Sarah - all the best for 2012!
Mink xxx

Thank you Mink for the great interview. I will warn you now; Internet chat rooms, forums, facebook and Twitter can all become addictive! Please don't blame me for putting these ideas into your head and delay you writing another fantastic book.

My review of 'Just Another Manic Mum-Day' will be on the blog soon, but until then, the fantastic people at Sphere have offered me 5 copies to giveaway on my blog.

To be entered into the competition for a copy of this book:
  1. become a follower of my blog and comment on this post only (1 entry)
  2. tweet about the competition (1 entry) (please include me in the tweet @sbroadhurst) and add a link to the comment below.
This is a UK only Giveaway, sorry for international followers of my blog.

Winners will be drawn at 6pm on Wednesday 18th January 2012 and the books will be posted out by the publisher. 


  1. Great interview! The book sounds great!
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. Fab, interesting interview! Thank you for the giveaway!

  3. Great interview and giveaway. The book sounds fab so can't wait to read your review!

  4. Love the sound of this book Sarah :) Thanks for the giveaway xxx

  5. Great interview, and the book sounds great too :-)

  6. I already follow - as Pukkapad! Have just tweeted -!/kirstylou29/status/159677416292356097


    Thanks so much for the competition! Great interview!