Mary Hargreaves and This is Not a Love Story
Mary writes contemporary women’s fiction.
Her first novel, This Is Not A Love Story, comes out on 11th June.
Maggie Gardiner isn’t good enough. She had six glasses of wine at a work conference, woke up covered in curry and has accidentally ended up living with the boring guy who was supposed to be a one night stand. Something has to change.
Every other twenty-something on Instagram seems to have their sh*t together, so why doesn’t she? And so she makes a list. When she’s ticked off every item, she’ll become Maggie 2.0 – the best version of herself, and the one she wants to be. Won’t she…?
1. Go vegan. It worked for that girl on Twitter.
2. Take up yoga – that woman she hate-follows swears by it
3. Start practising mindfulness – all those people can’t be wrong…
4. Quit smoking. It’s not 1999.
This Is Not A Love Story is a book for anyone who’s ever wished they were perfect.
It’s a book for anyone who feels like a failure. And it’s not a love story, it’s a real story. And it’s hilarious.
Let’s Place Mary Under the Spotlight!
Tell us a little about yourself and your books, including the genre(s) you write in.
Hello! I’m Mary, I’m from Manchester and I write contemporary women’s fiction. My first book, This Is Not A Love Story, comes out on 11th June. I’ve just finished the first draft of my second book, which feels like a huge achievement at the moment! I’ve promised to give myself a break, but I imagine I’ll be knee-deep in book three before the summer even begins. I’ve got some ideas brewing!
What project are you working on now?
Weirdly, nothing at the moment. The notes app on my phone is full to the brim of story ideas, one of which is really grabbing me, so I think I’m definitely set on my next one.
How do you choose the genre(s) you write in?
Funnily enough, I originally tried to write a thriller before getting into women’s fiction. It was the most awful thing anyone has ever written – the storyline centred around a butternut squash – so I gave up pretty quickly. I thought that was the end of my attempts at novels, but I kept having funny ideas about the difficulties of being a woman in her twenties in the Instagram era, and before I knew it This Is Not A Love Story was born.
I feel so comfortable writing women’s fiction, that I don’t think I’ll ever branch out, but if you do see a butternut-squash-themed crime drama on the shelves in a few years, just know that I’m sorry.
Is there any particular author or book that’s influenced you, either growing up or as an adult?
Oh, so many. I had just finished the first draft of TINALS when I read Lucy Vine’s Hot Mess, and it gave me such a boost to know that I had a genre (I really knew nothing about publishing until I started querying agents) and that there were other funny women writing similar things around me.
Mhairi McFarlane is also a staple in my bookshelf – the way she tells a story is wonderful, and she hits that sweet spot between funny and emotional so well.
Holly Bourne is also totally brilliant, and How Do You Like Me Now really stayed with me and influenced my choice of subjects to tackle for my second book.
Is anything in your books based on real life experiences?
If I had a pound for every time a family member has cornered me at a party to ask whether TINALS is autobiographical… It isn’t, of course, but every person in it is an amalgamation or exaggerated version of someone I know in real life.
There are a few yoga scenes that are very similar to experiences I had while I was writing, and they were by far my favourite to write.
There’s nothing like living through something and then reforming it into its fictional counterpart to entertain people. That’s when my imagination works best.
How do you come up with your titles?
I don’t! I’m so awful at this. I haven’t even named my second one, I’ve just sent it over to my editor and I’ll let her decide.
I think when you’re so involved in something, it often becomes harder to sum it up in a short name, and titles usually get chopped and changed anyway.
I fear for my future children, I’m that bad at naming things.
Do you have any hidden talents?
Good question! I can speak Italian pretty well, but I’m not sure whether that’s a talent.
I can also read a book in a day, but I hear that’s pretty common among writers.
Oh – I can eat an entire large Domino’s pizza by myself. I think I’m most proud of that one.
You’re hosting a literary dinner party, which five authors would you invite (alive or dead)?
Mary Oliver would be head of the table. I know she’s a poet, but she’s had such an impact on me and I’d love to quiz her.
Then it’d have to be Jane Austen, Cassandra Clare and Lisa Taddeo. All hugely influential at different points in my life.
What are five words that describe your writing process?
Impulsive, frenzied, tumultuous, quick, haphazard.
Which would you rather do: Never write another story or never read another book?
Oh, don’t do this! I’d probably rather never write again. But no, the thought is horrible. No, I can’t decide.
What is the funniest typo or error you’ve ever written?
I can’t really say without being rude… [NOTE FROM LISA: Rude is fine here!]
How do you come up with names for your characters?
I pluck them out of thin air and don’t really question them. The only time I really think hard is when I’m naming an animal, where I’ll usually try to pick a funny, incongruous name.
Who is the most supportive person in your life when it comes to your writing?
My boyfriend. It sounds really cheesy and clichéd, but if it weren’t for him I wouldn’t have written a single word. He believes in me far more than I believe in myself, which is the greatest thing in the world.
Although English is his second language, and he doesn’t really read, so I get the impression I could just smack my head against the keyboard and he’d shower me with praise. Still, I’m very lucky to have his blind, unconditional confidence.
What is your most favourite word and why?
I like a lot, but at the moment: eclectic. It sounds quirky and chipper, and I like quirky, chipper things.
What is your least favourite word and why?
Coagulation. Eugh. I hate the whole idea of it. And skull, too.
Are you starting to see why I’m a terrible thriller writer yet?
You can find Mary in the following places:
Facebook: Mary Hargreaves Facebook
Twitter: Mary Hargreaves Twitter
Instagram: Mary Hargreaves Instagram