My poem, 'When I Grow Up' is printed in the St Catherine's School Magazine. For anyone interested, I wanted to be a teacher.
I do work experience at The Times where I have my first snog outside Tower Hill tube station. I also do work experience with a criminal barrister where I sit in courtrooms and write about everything to help keep me awake.
I meet someone called Nick at a wedding exactly one month before I'm due to go and teach in Japan. I leave. Jetlag leads me to pen essay-length letters and emails to him. This does not scare him off.
I See You Baby is placed runner-up in the Miss Write competition. Joy is followed by complete bewilderment as I learn I know nothing about this writing malarkey. What just happened may have just been a complete fluke. I research agents. A few ask to see the full manuscript and again I am joyful. But then I learn a lot about agents, about the phrase, ‘I love it but...’ and the general fear and loathing that comes from a one-sentence rejection letter. I See You Baby is turned down 14 times.
My daughter is born. She has so much hair for a baby that one day someone stops me in the street and asks me if she's wearing a wig.
Pursuing an agent proves difficult living abroad. I keep writing short stories, road test different genres and try (and fail) to write poetry.
When baby is four months old, I get my hand stuck in a food blender. I marvel at my own cack-handedness; this also puts a small halt to writing.
We add another boy to the brood; big lad, thighs like pork chops. I get shingles and spend a month holed up at home. One day, a US TV cookery show pisses me off to the point of inspiration and Souper Mum is born. An agent who read my short story in Mslexia asks to see more of my work so I send her my novel. I work with a great editor for about a year but she leaves the agency to go live abroad and interest in my novel wanes. I participate in the Write Forward courses for emerging writers run by the British Council in Singapore.
We get a rescue dog called Barney. He eats my shoes. He’s supposed to be our 4th child but the following month, I fall pregnant. Short story Rasa Sayang published in Mslexia and Jesus on a Washcloth is notable contender for the Bristol Prize.
Souper Mum is resurrected and places 2nd in the Accent Press Writing Competition in association with Woman Magazine.
Accent Press sign it up, its sequel and I See You Baby in a three book deal. I do the best kitchen dancing the world has ever seen.
Short fiction published on 1000words and Visual Verse.
P.S #3 is fine, full recovery made.
I'll be honest; the books don't really set the literary world alight but I get some decent reviews and have a lovely time doing signings, writing workshops and library talks. Accent drop the option for my third book. It's a learning experience that's edifying but bloody emotional.
A year of two halves. January, I have to buy 432 copies of my books before they're pulped and I try to sell them out of my front room. I cry a lot. I try to keep on keeping on. That novel about I'm piecing together becomes Captain Mintcake and I enter it into the inaugural Comedy Women In Print Prize. I make it onto the longlist. From tears in January to standing next to Jilly Cooper at the awards ceremony in July. By August, that book has a home with the lovely people at Bookouture. Two book deal in the bag. I admittedly have to write like a motherfucker though.
Born. Literally bursting into the 80s, as it happened. I was nearly called Dawn but instead my mother named me after the woman who shot JR Ewing.
I am 14. I have terrible hair. A career compatibility quiz tells me I am 97% suited to being a writer. This is not a suitable career choice in an all girls' grammar school. I pretend I really want to be a lawyer instead.
I graduate from Bristol University. During the course of my degree, I have my heart broken 3 times. My diary hears a lot about this trauma.
After two years of travelling and long distance, Nick and I delve into the deep unknown and have a baby. The baby has big eyes like Minstrels and looks a bit like a Monchichi. We return to the UK. Slightly intimidated by mother-baby groups and my new role in life, I stay in a lot and write a novel, I See You Baby. On a whim, I enter it into the Miss Write competition, run by Little, Brown, Cosmopolitan and Waterstone's.
Despite being from the North and not being able to say the word 'bath' properly, I marry the very lovely Nick. We start a whole new chapter in our lives and move to Singapore.
My very first short story, The Birth wins the inaugural short story competition and is published in Expat Living (Singapore).
Short stories Vol 1: Aadvark-Aztec and Odd Socks are published in the Read for READ International short story anthology and Mslexia. Ward 51: Wings is shortlisted and winner of the Readers’ Prize in the Riptide Journal (Vol 6). Short stories Rasa Sayang and Jesus on a Washcloth are longlisted for the Bristol Prize and the Momaya Press Short Story Competition. I write Bailey Force Three: chick lit with spies. My husband thinks it’s funny but he also likes marzipan so I don’t always trust his opinion.
My family and I move back to the UK. A lot of writing remains shelved as I get the kids settled and sort out the wreck of a house I live in (note: don’t marry an architect who thinks he’s Kevin McCloud...) I say shelved: I lose a bit of confidence and bin most of what I start. An addiction to online Scrabble and binge-watching box sets doesn't help things.
#4 is a girl. I fear I may never write again as she proves to be one of those non-sleeping baby types. Then life gets real; #3 falls really ill in November. I spend a lot of time in hospitals, staring at very little children hooked up to machines and have one of those moments where you realise life is indeed too bloody short. Time to get your shit back out there, lady.
Souper Mum is published on 16 June 2016. I will turn 36 which my husband tells me is no longer my mid-thirties. He is wrong. Second Helpings is published on the 17 November 2016. I get my fourth tattoo.
I'm writing but it's a bloody slog. My newest work is set in Kendal and features a fair bit of mintcake. I conduct a few children's writing workshops and occasionally I get a nice review that makes me smile. I part ways with Accent and think about packing in this writing lark. 'Tutensuppengluck' - the German translation of 'Souper Mum' is released in May.
Captain Mintcake becomes Has Anyone Seen My Sex Life? It's not a title my husband approves of but then we've talked about his terrible taste. It is released on Valentine's Day. In two weeks, it tops the Kobo Chart, rises to #2 in the Apple Books Chart and becomes a Top Ten bestseller on Amazon, going to #1 in the charts for Women's Humorous Fiction. I kitchen dance like a fucking loon most evenings to know people are actually reading my books. My next book, Can I Give My Husband Back? is released in June. It tops the Apple Book Charts
Are you a content writer?
No, sorry. There exists another Kristen Bailey who’s a content writer based in the US. There is also an actress with incredible hair and a Kristin Bailey who writes mostly fantasy/adventure. If you’ve been looking for these Kristens, I am sorry. Not me. To the best of my knowledge, I have also never been married to Bill Bailey.
Where are you from-from?
Always feel free to ask me this question as I take great pride in my heritage. I was born and raised in South-West London but ethnically, my mother is Singaporean and my father is Guyanese (remember Desmond’s...yep, there...). My ancestry is even more confused: there is Chinese, Portugese and Scottish mixed up in my genes. It always means I never know what box to tick on forms (Mixed? Mixed Other? Mixed/Various Sources?). I do not speak a second language unless you count rusty A-Level French. Presently, I call Fleet, Hampshire home.
What did you do before you were a writer?
I was an EFL teacher. I studied psychology at Bristol University; I always liked learning about what made people tick. After that I worked in research for a while and quite bizarrely, was au-pair to Jude Law’s interior architect. I did my EFL training with a then boyfriend whom my family still refer to as ‘the one who looked like Jesus.’ I think it was the beard, maybe the white linen. We broke up. Tears were shed but I still went down that avenue, teaching EFL in Japan and Hong Kong for about a year. I met my husband somewhere along the way. I had just been accepted on to a PGCE when I found out I was pregnant with son #1. I put everything on hold to embrace motherhood. Some time after that I gave writing a go.
Do you just write?
I always think this is a brave question to ask a full-time mum! I do just write but I try and balance it with parenthood and other pursuits. In terms of writing, I do teach writing workshops to all (children to U3A) and do book club appearances/talks. Quite randomly, I am also a huge advocate of youth sport and am vice-chairwoman of a grassroots football club. Just don't ask me about the offside rule.
Four children? When do you get a chance to write?
Under the cover of darkness. Daylight hours are spent plotting, trying out dialogue and leaving Post-It notes around the house. Then the last child’s head hits the pillow and I squirrel all those ideas down until they make sense. I eat a lot of Minstrels as I do so, listen to Ben Howard and usually am clothed in something without a restricting waistband.
What's the best meal you've ever had?
I've been lucky to have travelled and had the chance to sample a lot of different cuisines. But I stand by my choice: the best meal I've ever eaten were the two slices of white buttered toast I had after the birth of my first son. I EARNED that toast. I'll remember it till the day I die.