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Alison Walsh -"In My Mother's Shoes"

Monday, 26 April 2010

Alison Walsh, independent books' editor, has just written her first book - a non-fictional account of being a mother

Motherhood today is particularly demanding, as women expect perfection of themselves as mothers, home makers and cooks, while also trying to hold down jobs

Alison Walsh - first time author and freelance book editor

How long did it take you to write the book?

I had to write a proposal first - two sample chapters and that took a year. I wanted it to be perfect. There was the confidence thing too. The editor in Macmillan, where I worked at the time, was very encouraging. After I got the ok, it took six months to write the rest from November 2008 -June 2009.

What did you work at before?

I worked in publishing in London for Harper Collins . I did popular women's fiction, big blockbusters - Barbara Taylor Bradford, Sydney Sheldon, Blur etc. Very glamorous and exciting!

Were you never tempted to write before?

I was never tempted to write a novel. I didn't know what I wanted exactly, but maybe subconsciously I must have wanted to write while I worked in editing and I learnt a lot in the publishers, so that was very useful.

I was writing short stories in London before the kids were born. Then when I had the kids there were 10 years when I wrote very little. When I had my 3rd child I had a mid life crisis. I came back to Dublin 12 years ago when Eoin was a baby and got a job in Gill & Macmillan and worked there for 4 years. When my youngest was a baby I decided to step off the career ladder. The job was quite pressured and time consuming and my priorities changed.

Tell us about your grandmother.

Inimitable Anne - my grandmother was born into a large Dublin working class family. She had worked since she was a teenager. She married well and became newly middle class and moved to Arklow. She had one child - my mother Pauline.
Anne loved fashion, singing, dancing and was very theatrical. She was also in the Irish Countrywomen's Association.

Perfectionism in our societies has stretched to women being expected to be perfect mothers, cooks, carers, home makers, career women etc. They were more relaxed in the past. You can't just cycle anymore you've to run a triathlon, you can't go for a walk, have to go to the gym.

Who is putting that pressure?

Celebrity magazines, TV shows, etc. rammed down our throats all the time. The good thing is that parents are making efforts in being involved actively in their kids' lives. Parents used to be a separate race. Now we hover relentlessly over the kids, about their homework etc. No discomfort, no risks, not allowed talk to strangers. Statistically, stranger danger is no worse than it was in the '70s but we are ultra vigilant. All share a lurking feeling that danger is all around us. So that's not good.

Look at Karen Brady the manager of Birmingham football club. She has spoken of how she went back to work 5 days after giving birth. Later she regretted it. The culture of the workplace does not tolerate women having babies. Not a lot of leeway given to women for having a baby and how it changes you.

What are your future plans?

My next book is my dark secret - a book on marriage. Not just long term relationships, but marriage - and the peaks and troughs in that experience.

Publisher/ Details

Macmillan Trade Paperback
Published 9 March 2010