We talk to bestselling author Shari Low about her latest book, My One Month Marriage, and the power of female friendship…
After various careers, including selling fire extinguishers around Europe, followed by managing nightclubs, she turned her hand to writing and her debut What If? was published in 2001. Shari’s just published her latest novel, My One Month Marriage, a story of sisterhood, friendship, and family secrets…
My girlfriends are the family that I chose for myself
Here Shari shares some thoughts on her latest book, the power of female friendship and her love of reading…
What inspired the plot for your latest novel, My One Month Marriage?
The starting point for My One Month Marriage was the title – it popped into my mind one day while I was listening to a Kenny Chesney album and it stuck. For the non-country music fans, Kenny is the singing superstar who was married to Renee Zellweger for four months before they suddenly divorced. Oh, the aching heart and intrigue! I’m also fascinated by spontaneous choices and people whose romantic lives change on a heartbeat. I got engaged to my husband a week after I met him, so it’s something I know a little bit about.
The four sisters in the novel are very different – who do you most identify with?
I’m probably closest in personality to Zoe, but with a bit of Yvie’s humour and capacity for caring thrown in. And my sons would definitely say I share elements of Marina’s maternal control-freakery. They’ll be 45 and I’ll still be asking them where they’re going, who they’ll be with and whether they’ve had their five daily portions of fruit and veg.
Your new novel explores female friendship and sisterhood – did you draw inspiration from your own relationships and friendships?
Female friendships are a central theme in every novel that I write. In this case, the characters were sisters, but I really wanted to explore the friendship elements of their relationships with each other. It goes without saying that just because you’re related to someone, doesn’t mean you have to like them or that your personalities will gel, so I wanted to show how the women dealt with their issues and conflicts.
How important do you think female friendship is in general? What does it bring to your life?
I couldn’t begin to imagine what my life would be like without my friends to share the good times and bring humour to the tough times. I have a group of girlfriends who have been like sisters for more years than I can count and although we’re all very different in many ways, we’ve stuck together through dramas, tragedies, great times and many nights of endless conversations and empty wine bottles. When my husband and I married he said he gained a package deal: a wife and several pals permanently perched around the kitchen table. I really do feel that my girlfriends are the family that I chose for myself.
What authors do you most enjoy? What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
I’ve been a voracious reader since I was a child and I’ll read anything and everything, right across the genres. It really depends on my mood and on the circumstances – I love an epic scandalfest for a long haul flight, a great romcom for a sunlounger, a dark, twisted thriller for a night on the sofa and I always had an autobiography on my bedside table.
What book do you wish you’d written?
Oh, that’s a tough one. I guess I’d love to have ghost-written a defining autobiography of our times, like Michelle Obama’s brilliant Becoming. Imagine getting the inside story on all that happened behind the scenes in the life of an incredible woman in an extraordinary time in history.
Tell us about your typical day… how do you balance being a mother with your writing career?
I generally release two or three books a year, so I’m constantly writing or editing on deadlines. I work everywhere. I write while I’m eating breakfast and lunch, while I’m blow drying my hair with the other hand… I write all day long and often over-night too. I wrote huge chunks of my last ten novels sitting in sports centre car parks while my boys were inside at basketball training. My tip for anyone who wants to write a novel is don’t wait for the right time or place because it might never come – just start writing and get the story on the page.
What do you think is the secret to your success?
My readers! I’m lucky enough to have lovely readers who stick with me year after year, book after book.
Have you started work on your next novel yet? Can you give us a taster of what it’ll be about?
I’ve just finished my next book, One Day In Summer. It’ll be out in May and it’s a tale of complicated relationships, loss, love and reinvention – with some great female friendships in there too!