Here’s a great interview with the Book Bag:
Sue was grabbed by The Beta Mum: Adventures in Alpha Land as soon as she started reading. She decided to tackle author Isabella Davidson about what it means to be an alpha or a beta mummy when she popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.
- Bookbag: When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?
Isabella Davidson: I see a normal mum, who has sometimes felt lonely, or felt like an outsider, or who has struggled with the many shapes and forms of motherhood. I wanted her to feel less alone as a mother when she read my book, or at least felt that she wasn’t the only one experiencing those feelings that you can have as a mum. I think motherhood today has many challenges and struggles, whether from loneliness or trying to find the right work-life balance or feeling guilty from not being the perfect mum. I wanted my reader to feel that it’s OK to be just who she is.
- BB: What inspired you to write The Beta Mum: Adventures in Alpha Land?
ID: Well, firstly, I live in a very entertaining part of London. It is quite over the top at times and I just thought there should be a book or film about it. So, I decided to write a book! I get inspiration from everyday moments and from stories I hear from my friends. I will listen to conversations and think ‘Oh, that would be great in a book.’ I also felt that sometimes we aren’t nice enough to each other as mothers and I felt a need to write about that. I think that’s one thing I try to do with my book. I feel like we, as mothers, should just be nicer to each other. I’ve also had moments of frustrations, like something simple like trying to organise a playdate, and wondered why it had to be so hard!
- BB: My qualifications as a beta mummy are well established. I once went to collect my daughter from a party and the staff had a list of the mummies who were to be asked to stay for a sherry and another list of those who were not to be asked. I was on the second list, the maid explained, without being asked. But which are you? I had a look at your blog: Notting Hill, the Maldives, Antigua… That looks pretty alpha to me!
ID: First of all, I can’t believe someone would do that! That’s just awful. I would rather not throw a party than start excluding people from the party. It’s just how I was brought up and I just don’t understand it. About the Alpha part? Well, yes, I am actually quite Alpha in that I am quite driven and motivated and I make things happen, like this book. But I am not competitive with other people, I just don’t find the need. I try to be supportive and happy for other people’s successes, but not everyone is like that. I try to only be competitive with myself. I also have a softer side to me and am incredibly sensitive and empathetic, which is how I was able to write the book from the point of view of a Beta Mum, which I thought was really important. It was the only way to make it relatable to most people. But even as an Alpha, I have had experiences like Sophie, like the time she is interviewed for a housekeeping interview. That actually happened to me!
- BB: There’s a wide range of wealthy people in your book, from the well-to-do through to the super-rich. How do you define ‘rich’?
ID: To me, rich, is when you don’t have to worry about your financial situation and have a surplus to do whatever you want whether it is traveling or buying material goods, so it will really depend on the individual and how much they need to live and be happy.
- BB: I see that you’ve lived in seven countries on four continents. How much of you is there in Sophie? Do you ever have a longing for a settled life?
ID: When I was growing up, I moved so many times, so I know all about moving to new places and being the outsider because as soon as you move to a new school, you are immediately an ‘outsider.’ I had to prove myself time and time again and make friends over and over again, so I know how Sophie was feeling when she was told they were moving to a new country. It’s also why I settled in London 15 years ago and haven’t moved. My husband would love for us to travel the world and move to different countries, but I don’t have that need, because I’ve already done it.
- BB: What made you start blogging? And how important is it to you?
ID: Blogging really started out as a bit of fun. I thought it would be fun to chronicle some of the funny things I heard or saw in my every day life. I thought it would be entertaining and some people liked it so I continued. I also always dreamed of being a travel writer or restaurant critic, so that was one way to fulfil that dream! But blogging was always going to be a hobby for me, I never intended to become a professional blogger. My real dream was always to write a book so that’s where I put my energy and focus, but the blog has been incredibly useful as a platform to get my book to readers and has helped me get featured in The Saturday Times Magazine!
- BB: Sophie’s blog gets her into lots of difficulties. Do you think there is less accountability on the internet than in traditional publications? Should writers be held to the same standards?
ID: Yes, I think there is less accountability because it can be anonymous. Trolling can be done anonymously so people say things that they wouldn’t normally say if they were standing in front of that person. Writers and bloggers should be accountable in the same way.
- BB: How did you learn to write so well? And how long did it take you to write The Beta Mum: Adventures in Alpha Land?
ID: Thank you for the compliment! That’s really kind of you, especially since writers are always so self-critical and doubtful of their own work. I always wanted to write a book, ever since I was a child, so I was always working on something during the holidays. So, in a sense, I’ve been writing and practicing forever. It was when I started writing the blog and when I received a lot of compliments that I thought that perhaps I had enough talent to write a book. It’s taken two years to write The Beta Mum. The first year, I had lots of ideas and various drafts, but it was the second year when I was in the Faber Academy Novel writing course that I really wrote my book. It was a great place for support, feedback and motivation, because writing is a solitary craft. There is an application process to get on the course and everyone else on the course is really brilliant and they are all incredibly talented writers.
- BB: You’ve got one wish. What’s it to be?
ID: Well, if it is related to writing, to have a best-seller! But that’s in my dreams, so my real wish is that people enjoy my book! That would be enough to make me happy.
- BB: What’s next for Isabella Davidson?
ID: If people enjoy this book and want more, then I will definitely write a sequel!
- BB: Then we really hope that lots of people enjoy the book, Isabella. Thanks for taking the time to chat to us.