Reviewed by Cesca Martin
I think Novelicious are INCREDIBLY lucky to be interviewing the wonderful author Kerry Hudson about her debut novel, ‘Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-cream Float Before He Stole My Ma’. It’s quirky, funny, touching and it is one of the most refreshing books I’ve read all year. You will thoroughly enjoy the humour of this novel. The gritty settings, the miserable, often booze-fuelled reality of a grim urban existence is told in the most entertaining way by Janie Ryan who is desperate to escape her Ma’s fate. Janie Ryan is a fascinating central character and you are rooting for her and her gorgeous sister throughout. Go out and get yourself a copy of this book – it’s truly unique.
Cesca asked Kerry a few questions about the book.
I have to ask - how autobiographical is this book?
The truth is I've lived in the same places as Janie, I'm the same age as she would be now, I had the same wonky fringe and hedonistic teenage years. So the novel draws a huge amount from my own upbringing on those same estates and in those same B&B's, and I hope that authenticity shines through: but it is a novel. Tony Hogan is a story in the truest sense in that much of the writing was in deciding what to leave in, take out and how I wanted the reader to feel at the end.
I adored Janie and her sad, but loving ma. Who is your favourite character in the book and why?
I love Tiny, Janie’s wee sister, (as did my Editor when she first read the book) she is such a fighter with such a strong spirit despite growing up in turbulent circumstances. Even once I'd finished the book she stayed with me – her stocky little legs in multi-coloured leggings, beaded hair and cheeky smile and I wished her good things and a better future than her present.
What was your journey to publication like?
I was incredibly fortunate that ‘the road rose up to meet me’ on my publication journey. I wrote short stories based on my upbringing initially and sent a small selection to my (now) agent and mentioned I was writing a novel (I hadn’t written a word!). She asked to see it when it was finished so I took 6 months off work, flew to Vietnam and wrote Tony Hogan. I signed with her about two months after I returned to London and signed my book deal about five months after that. So much of getting published is right book, right person, right time and I know I was hugely lucky!
What is your average writing day?
I work full-time as a project manager for a children’s charity so there’s no average day. First thing in the morning, last thing at night, on the bus to work or in Prêt at lunchtime over a sarnie - I take the minutes and hours where I can!
Are you working on something else now?
Ach I can’t say, I’m worried I’ll jinx it! But I can say I’m returning to Vietnam to work on it while cycling around Hanoi, eating Bun Cha and spending too much time on Twitter as usual.