A Day in the Life of Author – Laura Kemp

Laura Kemp is a funny person. Her tweets brighten up my day, and her books are witty and unique. I asked her along to the blog today to tell us how her day goes. And you will LOVE the puppy!


Laura’s day starts…

Far too early: The cat or the puppy or my husband or our son will wake me up. The cat is the easiest to deal with: I can push her off my face and she’ll get the hint. But the same can’t be said for the puppy – I need to jump up to let him out for a wee (if he hasn’t been already which is highly likely). I’m in trouble if it’s my husband because he is extraordinarily happy in the mornings – the opposite of me – so he’ll be singing and talking at me, laughing at my grumpiness and trying to decipher my grunts. Although to be fair, he should’ve worked out their meaning by now; it’s always ‘shut up’. If it’s our six-year-old I pretend to be asleep in the hope he’ll turn to his father for whatever it is he needs to know, usually something related to football or Minecraft.

Five minutes later: I’m forced up, handed my glasses and given a cup of tea but it’s not until I’m washed and dressed that I’m in any position to communicate without swear words. I’m convinced I’m dreadful at waking because I’m really short-sighted; being unable to see makes me feel insular and peripheral. Maybe I should get my eyes done but then I’d have no excuse to be a misery in the mornings.

LauraBreakfast time: Cheese on toast and a coffee gets me moving. I’m thinking of what I need to write as soon as I come to, and for the first of many times in a day, I’ll pop onto Twitter to read the news and check my inbox. All the while, there’s the lunchbox, unstacking the dishwasher, shouting at my son to hurry up, get dressed, clean his teeth, find his shoes and then we’re off, walking to school with the puppy making us hoot on the way – there’s something about his little legs shooting off in different excited directions that tickles us. He’s a bundle of fluffy joy and famous for crying at the top of his voice when I tie him up at the gates. Loads of ‘hellos’ and gossip in the playground before I go home to start work.

9am: Bliss. I switch off the radio and switch on my lap top – I love the silence of the house. My goal is to get ‘urgent’ stuff out the way first, such as writing my weekly column for my local newspaper, the South Wales Echo in Cardiff, doing a feature for a national newspaper or responding to emails. Then, with a fresh coffee, I’ll get to work on my book. I’m on number three now and it’s chick lit this time – my first two, Mums Like Us and Mums on Strike are mum lit and I’m very proud of them. I was very lucky to get an agent and a two-book deal with Arrow and it still feels like it happened to someone else! For my third, I wanted to try my hand at something different – writing is a constant learning curve. So I enter the world of my new novel, meeting my characters, developing them, immersing myself in their lives. I’ll shut my eyes, see them and wonder ‘what would they do when…’ and go for it. I don’t have a daily word count per se, I prefer to think of writing a scene a day. It could be a chapter or it could just end up being a page or two. The important thing for me is not to race ahead of myself, which is what I tend to do. The discipline for me is about slowing it down and getting into the characters’ heads.

What an absolute treat! I stayed up to the early hours to finish it and felt rather bereft when I had.


10am: The phone will ring and I’ll harrumph a bit at being disturbed but it’s good to dip in and out. So I’ll put a wash on, wonder what the hell I’m going to cook tonight, do some boring chores and then go on Twitter – again! I love social media, it’s like a virtual office. I used to be a journalist and thought nothing of writing to a deadline in a noisy newsroom. These days I prefer quiet – I’ve realised I’m one of those extrovert introverts. I love company but I find it really draining and motherhood knackers me out so I would much rather stick to solitude during school hours.

10.29am: Stick the dog out for a wee.

10.30am: Back to writing for another 45 minutes or so.

11.15am: Stick the dog out for a wee. Break up a fight between the cat and the dog.

11.20am: Back to writing for another 45 minutes or so.

Midday: Yes, I’m a child and I eat lunch at noon. I am at the point of fainting, I’m so hungry. It’s as if I’ve never grown out of the four-hourly feeds of babyhood! I’m a creature of habit so it’ll be a tuna mayo bagel or a poached egg on toast. Then crisps. Always crisps.

12.30pm: Stick the dog out for a wee. Hang out the washing. Check the freezer in the hope there’ll be something I made a week or so ago that I can dish up defrosted.

Mumsonstrike12.45pm: This is my last burst of writing – my focus goes by the afternoon and so I bash out what I need to finish and then get back to sending emails, preparing a talk, doing research – whatever I have to do before I force myself out for either a mum jog or a nanna nap. I do love closing my eyes for 20 minutes. I call it ‘having a think’ and then back to work.

2.30pm: Curse the dog for weeing inside.

3.15pm: I leave with the dog to get my son and then the real work starts.

“Brilliantly funny. This book could spark a revolution!” Fiona Gibson

3.30pm: My son is a livewire so the next four to five hours are hectic. A few times a week he will have a friend back so there’s catering, refereeing, tidying, crafting, footballing, you name it, there’s always something to be done. My husband is away half the year, on average every other week for a week, so it’s very full on.

8pm: For the 15th time I shout ‘go to sleep’ at my son who has just one more question to ask or one more thing to tell me. I am weak so I usually reach for wine. Then once all the stuff that has to be done has been done, I can finally sit down. I love sewing (my poor friends and family dread their birthdays because I’ve always made them something awful). And crosswords. So I’ll do that for a bit before the booze affects my hand-eye co-ordination and I start stitching my newspaper to my lap. Then I’ll catch up on whatever I’m watching on Netflix. I’ve just finished Breaking Bad, I’m still in mourning, and my current thing is The Bridge.

10pm: I’m shattered by now so the dog gets shoved out for the final time while I shout encouraging noises into the darkness. Then I eat something before bed – I can’t sleep on an empty stomach – and it’s off to bed I go. I’ll read a chapter or so, I’m reading Life After Life at the moment, then I’ll switch off the light and settle down. It’s this time of night when I get a thought about the book; perhaps a new angle on something, a reminder to change a word here or there and a lightbulb plot moment. I repeat these things to myself to remember them because I can’t be bothered to reach out of bed for my phone or a pen and paper. Once I’m in bed, I like to stay there for as long as possible!

Laura Kemp’s second book MUMS ON STRIKE is out now for Arrow.

Follow Laura on twitter: @laurajanekemp
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