“Many congratulations to Gillian Harvey on her debut novel ‘Everything is Fine’. It takes a light, sharp and very relatable look at the pressure to look good online and how this can turn into outright lying. To mark its publication in the States, I’ve put together a little Q&A.“
Did you do much research on the blogging world for this book?
I used to blog myself when my children were younger – and also regularly read quite a few blogs for fun. So although I didn’t sit down with the specific aim of research, I’ve ‘researched for pleasure’ over the years!
Exercise also features in the book – are you a gym bunny?
Exercise has been both a blessing and a curse in my life! In my 20s, I was almost addicted to running and probably overdid it – making myself quite ill. Then, when I had my children, I more or less stopped and it took a long time to build my fitness back up (in fact, I wouldn’t say I’m there yet).
Jessica’s fitness struggles in the book are similar to my own quest to get fit again post babies – she starts off with good intentions, but begins to find it hard to stick to a routine. That’s pretty much how I feel these days – I run sporadically on the treadmill, but I’m definitely not a gym bunny anymore. Luckily, no-one online is holding me to account!
Are you ever tempted to tell white lies online?
I do always try to be honest online, but also think it’s completely impossible to paint a ‘true’ picture of yourself and your life. We all post the highlights, the things we want to share. And either consciously or subconsciously build up an image of ourselves that may not be quite like the original.
For me, social media has been great in many ways – I’m naturally quite shy but find it easy to laugh and joke with people online, which is great fun. I hope I’m not too much of a disappointment when people meet me in real life.
When I’m looking at other people’s social media feeds, I fall into the same trap that many people do. It’s almost impossible not to make comparisons and find ourselves wanting. I’m glad that social media exists, but I’m also glad that I went through my teenage years without it – I’m not sure I could have coped.
As a fellow mother of five, I know how hard it is to juggle everything! How did you find the time and motivation to write your first novel and are you planning any more?
I’ve always written, although it’s taken me a long time to get to publication! I sometimes find the less time I have the stronger my urge is to write.
Everything was Fine was written while I was suffering from PND after my fifth baby. Every evening, once the kids were in bed, I pledged to write a chapter. In a way it was my ‘writing myself out of depression’, giving myself a break from my own restless brain.
Now my children are bigger – although they’re quite a little ‘tribe’ – they have lots of things in common. So I can spend some time writing even when they’re in the house, as they are better at entertaining themselves than they used to be. My husband, Ray, is usually around too to bounce on the trampoline or play hide and seek with them when I’ve got a deadline!
As for future plans, my second novel Perfect on Paper is written, and due for publication in the UK in May. And I’m working on a third, which I’m very excited about.
What are your hopes for 2021?
Probably the same as everyone else’s; that we finally get rid of Coronavirus and I can see my family again. I live in France, so it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to see my siblings or parents (who all still live in the UK).
Book-wise, I hope to find new readers and that my funny, upbeat novels will inject a little brightness into people’s lives.