Tina Baker joins us to share her fear of going under, cat ownership and new release, Call Me Mummy
When did you start writing, and why?
I remember writing when I was very small. I could write by the time I started school when I was five. The first word I spelled myself was my aunty Zita’s name – a process of putting letters together and pestering my dad, ‘Does this spell anything?’ over and over.
I wrote poems at school and kept them secret, so it didn’t result in one of the many fights I had – living in a caravan I was branded a ‘gyppo’.
I wrote short stories at school. I told no one.
I always wrote bits and bobs but didn’t have much time as a journalist to write ‘my own stuff.’ Only after I stopped doing that did I have the brain space to write a novel.
What motivates you to write?
Fear. Pure and simple. Terror. Feeling I’ll go under if I don’t write. Even when I’m not putting the words on the page, I’m thinking about writing or feeling guilty (in bed) that I’m not writing. Or reading and thinking about my own writing.
What do you like to do to relax when not writing?
I last relaxed in 1978 and I’m pretty sure drugs were involved. I now don’t do drink or drugs. In the past, I sometimes relaxed in that rare point between drink 1 and 2. By drink 23 I wasn’t relaxed any more but dancing on tables and marauding around streets!
Who is your favourite of your characters, why and in which books do they appear?
In Call Me Mummy I empathise with both Mummy and Kim – the woman who steals a child and the woman who loses her child. But I love Tonya – the child – the most. She’s a real fighter. And funny. She’s the daughter I never had.
Who is your least favourite of your characters, why and in which books do they appear?
I’m currently working on book three and the lead character in that is terrifying! I can’t say more than that right now.
Tell us about your latest book…
Call me Mummy is my first book. It’s terrifying having it out in the world. (25th Feb)
Dame Lorraine Kelly said it’s ‘dark, heart breaking and totally absorbing.’
It’s about a woman desperate for a child – so much so, when she sees a child being neglected by her mother, she steals it. It’s also the story of the mother who loses that child – one branded a ‘scummy mummy’ by the media and social media trolls.
What’s coming next…
Nasty Little Cuts is my second Viper Books novel – another psychological thriller out early 2022. It explores those small niggles, resentments and cruelties that build and build within relationships, and then in highly charged situations like Christmas can erupt into something horrific. Bridget Jones meets Jack Reacher.
Anything else you want to share?
The cats’ vet bills.
Tina was brought up in a caravan after her mother, a fairground traveller, fell pregnant by a window cleaner. She worked as a journalist/ broadcaster for thirty years, probably best known as a television critic for the BBC/ GMTV. After hours watching soaps gave her a widescreen bum, she lost weight and won Celebrity Fit Club. When not writing she works as a fitness instructor and rescues cats. Call Me Mummy is Tina’s first novel, inspired by her own unsuccessful attempts to have a child. Despite the grief of that, she hasn’t stolen one. So far.
Tina, thank you for being so honest, and entertaining, and making me laugh (mostly because of the I’ve-been-there syndrome). Hope that the new release works out well for you.
Mark Hill is up tomorrow