I’m a miracle mum

I always wanted to be a mum, but was told by a fertility doctor back in 2007 this wasn’t likely to happen without IVF. When my first IVF failed the same year, I wondered if I’d ever conceive. In 2009, we had a successful attempt, then another in 2011. By 2012, I was the mum of a 3-year-old girl and baby twins. Then – against the odds – two more surprise miracles came along. I went from infertility to 5 children aged 5 and under in the space of 6 years. And yes, I am exhausted.

Perfect on Paper

Perfect on Paper

I’ve always wanted to write

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer – my ambition started early, and I’ve been scribbling stories since the age of 5. I finished my first novel at the tender age of 24, but it took 6 more attempts to finally find my voice and get published (at the less tender age of 42).

I can type at 100wpm

I learned to touch type aged 16 (on a typewriter!) when I got my first job as an office junior. I spent a couple of years working as a legal secretary and my touch typing got faster as a result. Now my fingers fly across the keyboard – and when I’m writing creatively I sometimes feel as if there’s a direct link between my subconscious and my hands – sometimes I don’t know what I’m going to write until it appears on the screen!

I used to be a teacher

When I finished my English degree in 2000, I wasn’t sure quite what to do with it. The idea of becoming a writer seemed far-fetched, so I put my sensible hat on and trained as a teacher instead. I enjoyed my 8 years in the classroom, although the paperwork was endless! In 2009, I left to have my first baby and move to France.

I live in France

I moved to France with my husband, Ray, and our bump in summer 2009 – more on a whim than anything else! Ray and I had one of those ‘life’s too short’ moments while watching a programme about properties abroad. Without a lot of forethought, we sold our house in the UK and bought a tumbledown stone house in the French countryside. It’s been a learning curve to say the least – and I’ve wanted to move back to England a few times – but now we’re settled and happy with five bilingual kids and a franglais cat.

My humour comes from a dark place

People often say that comedians often have an inner sadness. I suffered from crippling anxiety and depression for years during my 30s. Since I recovered, I’ve had a new appreciation for the lighter side of life and really hope my books raise people’s spirits! That said, I always like to include some poignant moments within my stories too, to reflect the ups and downs of real life.

My kids inspired my latest book

People sometimes say their kids inspire them. Well, mine inspired my latest book – but not intentionally. I realised one day that when I’m speaking to them, they sometimes seem completely oblivious to my presence (unless I’m talking about chocolate or screen time). It made me think about ‘midlife invisibility’ and what it means to feel overlooked. This inspired the character of Clare in Perfect on Paper, who seems to have it all, but feels completely underappreciated. In my case, this feeling of invisibility inspired me to write a book. Clare’s reaction to her midlife invisibility is a little more extreme, but whole a lot funnier.

PERFECT ON PAPER by Gillian Harvey. Published in Paperback Original, eBook and audio on 13th May 2021 by Orion Fiction, priced £8.99

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