The latest novel from Linda Green is a political beast inspired by her own disillusion, she says.
One night during the 2010 general election campaign I bored my husband talking about where the mainstream parties were wrong and how a bunch of mums could make a better job of it.
Desperate for sleep, my husband suggested that instead of attempting a one-woman political coup, I should write a novel about someone else doing it. He got to sleep, I began plotting a fictional revolution.
I wrote a synopsis about three mums who, having led a campaign to save a lollipop lady, are asked if they fancy standing in the general election. It was, of course, a crazy idea. But these women were from Hebden Bridge. And where better to stage a political coup than a hotbed of radicalism and alternative lifestyles? My central characters, Sam, Jackie and Anna were friends who led stressful lives. All they needed was a cause which would resonate with other mums. Something which had the potential to change the face of politics forever.
I began putting together a Mummyfesto, allowing each character to devise policies which they felt passionately about. Some were serious; the Government to fully fund children’s hospices, a dementia care plan, tough anti-bullying measures. Others were not quite so serious; privatising the royal family, The House of Lords replaced by Mumsnet, Chequers turned into a spa and skipping for all.
My characters had a Mummyfesto and I had a novel I desperately wanted to write. Unfortunately my publishers at that time weren’t keen on the idea. If I wanted to pursue it, I was going to have to take the plunge and leave. Fortunately in Quercus, I found a publisher who believed in the idea as much as I did. Probably the most difficult week I had was spent researching a whole host of awful childhood illnesses and diseases to find the one which Sam’s son Oscar had. I can’t hear Coldplay’s Fix You now without remembering some of the heartbreaking videos I watched on You Tube. I settled on Spinal Muscular Atrophy, an inherited neuromuscular condition causing weakness of the muscles. At present there is no known cure. I also spent a lot of time researching children’s hospices and visited the Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice in Huddersfield, which looks after children with life-limiting conditions and their families.
Finally I was ready to start writing. And so the Lollipop Party was formed around Sam’s kitchen table at number 10 Fountain Street in Hebden Bridge. And at least I can now say that I was instrumental in starting a revolution – even if it was a fictional one.
Journalist to novelist
Linda Green was an award winning journalist who spent 10 years working in the Midlands before turning to writing novels full time.
She has since written four books, The Mummyfesto is her fifth.
The Mummyfesto is published by Quercus on February 14.
For more details, visit www.linda-green.com