Renee Conoulty: Up and In by Deborah Disney **Interview & Review**


Sunday, 28 June 2015

Up and In by Deborah Disney **Interview & Review**

Hey Everyone!

I'd like to introduce you to debut Australian author, Deborah Disney.

Australian author, Deborah Disney, grew up in the regional city of Toowoomba and now lives in Brisbane with her husband and two school-aged daughters. Deborah has a BA/LLB from the University of Queensland and practised as a solicitor for a number of years prior to having children. She chose to specialise in litigation law as that seemed like the best preparation for what is now her looming battle – mothering her daughters through the teenage years. Deborah's first novel, Up and In, is a satirical look at the interactions of school and sporting mums.

Connect with Deborah via

Author Interview

How long did it take you to go from first idea to publication of Up and In?

Just over a year. I started writing pretty much as soon as the idea manifested, but initially I didn't even really focus on it becoming a book. I just wrote some stuff down (that 'stuff' evolved into the first chapter) and I showed it to a friend who encouraged me to send it to a publisher. I discovered I needed three chapters to be able to submit to the first publisher I happened upon and so I took a couple of weeks to write those. I was incredibly lucky in that HarperCollins came back to me in just a couple of days saying they would like to see the whole manuscript. It then took me about seven months to complete that and then there were a few months taken up with structural and copy editing and then it was about another two months between the book being finished and it being published. 

What inspired you to write Up and In?

I have always been fascinated by people - their actions are frequently puzzling to me, and I have probably spent more time than the average human trying to work out the motivations of others. As I have got older, a couple of things have become clear to me - often the time spent in trying to analyse why someone does or says what they do is a complete waste of time. Without really knowing what is going on in someone else's life, it is impossible to judge why they might behave as they do. It is also a complete waste of time ... a waste of life, in fact, to try to alter who you are, just to fit in with someone else. Being true to yourself and maintaining your own values ... even in the face of some positively deplorable behaviour by others ... is the best way forward. I have observed that when there are groups of people who are thrust together by circumstance, there can often be a false hierarchy that evolves. And as a result of this hierarchy, there can be a lot of pretence, and a lot of judgment. The school mum environment is such a perfect setting for a story about this type of social hierarchy, as people from many different backgrounds are coming together and trying to find their tribe. Having had children at school for a number of years, and having had friends with children at other schools, I discovered that our stories were often similar. It made me think that perhaps there might be other women out there who were wanting to break free of the school gate politics and based on the feedback I have received from readers around the world, that has certainly proved to be the case.

Did you know how Up and In was going to end when you started writing? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Okay - I just needed to go look up 'pantser' - I suspected I was one but didn't want to admit to it without really knowing! I am in fact a bit of both. Before I settled in to write the whole manuscript of Up and In, I did make notes of some scenes and these were kept in a separate document. I wrote the last chapter when I was about ten chapters in - that really helped me with working out the direction of the story. With my second book, I have done something similar. I haven't written my whole last chapter, but I do know what the last line is going to be. I have not written much of that story at all, but I have got a number of plot points to work with. From here, I will be a pantser with it. So I am a plotter-pantser.

Were any of the characters based on people you know?

Not exactly. I have certainly encountered people who have shown some of the characteristics of some of the beas ... and not just in the school setting. I have met women like the beas in all sorts of arenas. However, no one character in Up and In is based on any one person I have met. 

Which character do you relate to most and why?

At this point in my life, I would say Maria's sister-in-law, Susannah. I definitely have my moments of Maria-neurosis, and Maria and I do share the same sense of humour, but really I prefer to look at life the way Susannah does. I am also quite fond of spreadsheets, so there is a bit of me in Sonja too, I guess :-/  

Are you working on anything else at the moment?

Yes, I have started writing my second book. I am really happy with how it is going but I am definitely experiencing that whole 'second novel syndrome' where you feel the pressure to make it better than the first. So far, I feel it's on track for that.

What do you do when you aren’t writing?

Drink wine, eat chocolate ... oh hang on - I do those while I'm writing too. When I'm not writing, I waste far too much time on Facebook. I really like cooking but in our household, if I cook, I clean, and if my husband cooks, I clean. I dream of a time when I get to cook and don't have to clean up afterwards!

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

This may sound trite, but I have learnt so much through the experience of being published. One of the best things, though, has been the relationships I have formed. Other authors and bloggers are so incredibly supportive of one another and it is just a really wonderful community to be a part of. There are a couple of women I have met who I would now count among my best friends - absolute soul sisters - so I believe the rewards of being published can be far greater than the monetary kind. 

Thank you so much for hosting me and my story, Renee. You are one of the bloggers who really makes a difference to authors - your passion for books is infectious! 

Up and In by Deborah Disney

A wonderfully wry tale about the pressure women put on themselves and one another to fit in, measure up and look glamorous while doing it. Distinctly middle class parents, Maria and Joe have committed all available income to giving their daughters Kate and Sarah the best education possible, which to them means attending the most exclusive girls school in the state. But when Kate befriends the spoilt and moody Mirabella, Maria finds herself thrust into a high society of champagne-swilling mother-istas she hasn't budgeted for. Saturday morning netball is no longer a fun mother-daughter outing, but a minefield of social politics. While the increasingly neurotic Maria struggles to negotiate the school mum hierarchy, Joe quietly battles a midlife crisis and Kate attempts to grow up as gracefully as possible (without having her life ruined by embarrassing parents). For every woman who has ever felt she may be wearing the wrong shoes, this is a book that will remind you - you're not alone.

Hey! Here's my review.

When I saw this book described as "the Devil wears Prada at the school gates" I thought it sounded like a fun read. I have never been a fashionista, rubbed shoulders with the high society ladies or had the desire to "keep up with the Jones's", but I still found Maria very relatable. There were so many anecdotal moments throughout the book that made me giggle and say "Yes! I did that too!" 

Maria is a middle class mum, just like me. She and her husband Joe have saved up to send their children to "the best" private girls school to give them "the best" education. But they haven't budgeted for "the best" everything else that comes with being accepted into this world. Playground politics whilst swilling champagne.

I found the writing style engaging. I've never played or watched much netball, but found myself caught up in action of the couple of netball games, though not all the action occured on the court. 

This is the debut novel from Australian author Deborah Disney. I am looking forward to reading her next one. 



  • Where: Author Invitation
  • Format: ebook
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