Currently hot on the campaign trail for her new book 100 Little Words on Parenthood Charlie Plunkett has been kind enough to answer some questions from me about parenting, self-publishing and writing. Charlie is married to her soul mate, Dave and is a Mum to an adorable 4 ½ year old little boy called Cole. She is also author of three published books, a series of ‘true diaries’ that chart the milestone moments in her life – getting married and becoming a Mum. She has recently published a 4th book on parenthood 100 Little Words on Parenthood which has not only been a fascinating experiment in collective publishing but also a hilarious and often heart wrenching insight into parenting from a wide range of experiences and perspectives. When she’s not being a Mum and writing she teaches ballet, is a presenter for Coastway Hospital Radio and has been known to be a bit of a domestic goddess in the kitchen.
As a successful self-published author and a full time Mother how do you find time to write?
Ha! I have so many late night lock-ins with myself it’s unbelievable. Luckily I am something of a night owl so this suits me perfectly. My little boy started school full-time in January so I have suddenly gained some extra hours to my day. I am very strict with myself that I never write while he is with me as I want our time to be special. He has spent a lot of time in Waterstones though as he has accompanied me on many book signings since he was a baby, he is my lucky mascot!
Describe your perfect day
My perfect day and one I could never tire of would be a beautiful summer’s day spent with my husband and little boy. We would be outside, probably somewhere where we could wander the countryside, take a stroll through a forest, paddle in some water, feast on a picnic and then snuggle up for stories in bed together in the evening. It would be a technology free day and I would probably finish it with a romantic meal with my husband, a bubble bath and the chance to catch up with writing my diary, the good old fashioned way, by hand.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
Becoming a Mum is beyond a doubt my greatest achievement. I find material things and career success all pale into insignificance when my little boy wraps his arms around my neck and whispers in my ear that he loves me.
If you could travel five years back in time what advice would you give yourself?
What a fabulous question and as I am an avid diary keeper I have just had a peak at what I was doing exactly 5 years ago…
I was pregnant and my biggest concern at that time was firstly that my little boy’s birth would be straightforward and that he would be healthy. This was followed by worries that he may arrive before my husband fitted our bathroom! At this time we were using a bucket to flush the toilet, were sleeping on an inflatable mattress with a slow puncture and had no fridge, washing machine or kitchen. With the wonderful gift of hindsight I would have told myself not to sweat the little things as my husband pulled everything together in time and Cole was born here at home just as I had hoped. I think I would have advised my pregnant self to find out a bit more about breastfeeding before his birth because that did come as a painful surprise!
What challenges have you faced when self-publishing?
To be totally honest none whatsoever! Years ago when I first decided to give the book writing a go I came across a self-publishing company and telephoned them for some advice. I was put through to the managing director and he was so kind and helpful to me that I knew if I ever finished my manuscript it would be his company I would use. Four books later and I am happily still with the same publishers, they are a wonderful team and always manage to accommodate my deadlines in a caring, friendly and professional manor. I have heard through the grapevine that authors who have been traditionally published have since returned to mine as their service is so good.
I guess the hardest part of the whole self-publishing route is the self-promoting which can be more time consuming than writing the book in the first place. But I have heard that even traditionally published authors are finding themselves having to take a more active role in marketing their work and so it is something that all authors face. Personally I enjoy connecting with other people and arranging signings and book launches (any excuse for an event!) After all who else is better qualified to promote my book than me?
Do you think the essence of parenting has changed based on experiences with your own parents?
I had a stay at home Mum who had a part-time job running a playschool, which I attended when I was little. My father worked full-time, but was a local building contractor so he was always home for lunch and dinner and his firm frequently closed over the school holidays. The values my parents had of allowing me freedom to be creative, to play outdoors and to value family are ones that I definitely have carried through to own my family. Things have changed though I wouldn’t feel so confident to allow my little boy to run as wild as me and my sisters did. We were of a generation where you went outside to play and that usually involved us climbing over the fence in our garden to explore the farm land behind, swimming in the lake and playing in the sand dunes, totally unsupervised. I would like Cole to be able to do all these things but I would feel happier doing them with him.
Define parenting in five words
Fun, wonderful, fulfilling, rewarding and magical.
What’s next for Charlie Plunkett?
Well I have a couple of books on the go so I suppose once the hoopla of the promotion for 100 Little Words has calmed down I shall be back on the computer finishing them and personally I am already looking forward to the summer holidays and long lazy days spent playing on the beach, walking in the woods and having barbeques with my gorgeous family.
A huge thank you to Charlie for taking the time out of her busy schedule to talk to me. You can follow Charlie at @charlieplunkett. Do take some time to visit her website at www.charlieplunkett.co.uk
You can find links to all her books below. You may be interested to know that Charlie kindly asked me to contribute to “100 Little Words on Parenthood”. You’ll only be able to find my contributions, amongst many brilliant others, if you buy it. It’s the perfect collection of parenting stories for anyone granted the unstoppable responsibilities of parenthood.
As an aside I’d just like to say that Charlie is not only a lovely person she is a bastion for open minded, free thinking parenting. Do pop over and say hello.