I'm so excited today as I'm handing over to the very lovely Gina Kirkham, who recently published her debut novel, Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong
, with Urbane Publications.
As mummy to 7-year old Ella, surrogate to far too many pets and with a failed
marriage under her belt, Mavis knows she needs to make some life-changing
decisions. It's time to strike out into the world, to stand on her own two feet
… to pursue a lifelong ambition to become a Police Officer. I mean, what could
Supported by her quirky, malapropism-suffering mum, Mavis throws herself
headlong into a world of uncertainty, self-discovery, fearless escapades,
laughter and extra-large knickers. And using her newly discovered investigative
skills, she reluctantly embarks on a search to find her errant dad who was last
seen years before, making off with her mum's much needed coupon for a fabulous
foam cup bra all the way from America.
Follow Mavis as she tackles everything life can throw at her, and revel in Gina
Kirkham's humorous, poignant and moving story of an everyday girl who one day
followed a dream.
* * * *
So that's the book, what about the lovely (and gorgeous) lady behind the words? Allow me to introduce you all to Gina Kirkham.
|Photo courtesy of Gina Kirkham|
Gina was born during the not-so-swinging 50's to a
mum who frequently abandoned her in a pram outside Woolworths and a dad who,
after two pints of beer, could play a mean Boogie Woogie on the piano in the
front room of their 3-bed semi on the Wirral.
Being the less adventurous of three children, she
remains there to this day - apart from a long weekend in Bognor Regis in 1982.
Her teenage years were filled with angst, a CSE in Arithmetic, pimples, PLJ
juice, Barry White and rather large knickers. Marriage and motherhood
ensued, quickly followed by divorce in her early thirties and a desperate need
for a career and some form of financial support for herself and her daughter.
Trundling a bicycle along a leafy path one wintry day, a lifelong passion to be
a police officer gave her simultaneously an epiphany of fond memories of her
favourite author Enid Blyton and moments of solving mysteries. And thus began
an enjoyable and fulfilling career with Merseyside Police.
On reaching an age most women lie about, she
quickly adapted to retirement by utilising her policing skills to chase after
two granddaughters, two dogs and one previously used, but still in excellent
condition, husband. Having said goodbye to what had been a huge part of her
life, she suddenly had another wonderful epiphany. This time it was to put pen
to paper to write a book based on her experiences as a police officer.
Lying in bed one night staring at the ceiling and
contemplating life as she knew it, Gina's alter-ego, Mavis Upton was born,
ready to star in a humorous and sometimes poignant look at the life, loves and
career of an everyday girl who followed a dream and embarked upon a search for
the missing piece of her childhood.
* * * *
INSIDE THE MIND OF GINA KIRKHAM…..
my goodness, I’ve written a book, I’ve
really written a book…
I stared at the bedroom ceiling watching the amber light
from the lamppost outside sneak through a gap in the blinds, marking a pattern
across the wall. Yep, I’ve written a
book and I am just beginning to find out that writing it was actually the easy
It’s 4 o’clock in the morning. The start of a brand-new day; another day of
excitement, expectations, another round of frantically refreshing Amazon,
Waterstones, Foyles, W. H Smith - in
fact any site that happens to be selling my book whilst simultaneously providing
the horrors and joys of Reader Reviews. The section, that as an author you dread
looking at just in case, but are compelled to do so as it is somehow a measure
of the acceptance of your words and your passion to write.
I hadn’t really thought further ahead than achieving my
dream of having my first book Handcuffs, Truncheon
and a Polyester Thong, published. I
hadn’t thought about sales, interviews, magazine pieces or personal appearances. I hadn’t even thought about being expected to
talk to an audience without glowing with so much perspiration and fear that my
strapless, stick-on bra, the one I’d accidentally bought when I fell asleep
with my finger adhered to my iPad whilst logged on to one-click ordering on
Amazon, suddenly decided to part company with my skin, appear from the hem of my
dress and settle gently at my feet amid sniggers from the first two rows of the
audience. I carried on expounding the
virtues of policing in the 21st century whilst trying to kick it
under a nearby table, but failed miserably as although the adhesive was not
good for skin, it fared pretty well on leather and remained glued to the toe of
my shoe until the end of my talk.
I was only just starting to realise that I had in effect popped
my head above the parapet of anonymity.
I sometimes think I’m a bit of an anomaly. I am both optimistic and cheerful, always
trying to see the best in people and life in general; but I am also a born
worrier who is desperate to please, I lack confidence in my abilities and if
anyone is likely to tear me down, it’s me!
My mum used to call it endearing, my hubby calls it
attractive, my friends call it cute; I call it ‘hell in a handbag’; my naughty little voice.
My naughty little
voice puts paid to most lovely things in my life. It can, when not controlled, change
everything to a worry or a negative.
Since becoming part of the wonderful world of books, I have
got to know and meet some pretty fantastic people, Authors, Bloggers Reviewers
and Readers. It truly is a big
supportive family who love to see others succeed. Their reviews of my book have been amazing,
nothing to drag the naughty little voice
out of hiding, apart from my worry when told that etiquette meant I couldn’t
thank them or even ‘like’ the review they had left. Not thanking someone for being so kind always
feels alien; but I understood why and my confidence was happily beginning to
And then it had happened.
The dreaded poor review on Goodreads. It stung.
In fact, it stung a lot. It
didn’t quite send me weeping and wailing into the downstairs loo dragging off sheets
of Aldi 2-ply (we’re cheap in this family) to blow my nose on, or bring me to
the point of despair where I would contemplate applying to the local Carmelite
Monastery in Birkenhead, which, as much as being hidden from the world appealed
at the time, with my track record, they probably wouldn’t have me anyway - but
it was a review that did hurt, nonetheless.
I thought I had been prepared for this, I’d read the hopes
and expectations of established authors, the highs and the lows, poured over
the Writers & Artists Yearbook 2016 and believed I could handle it.
Clearly not. That’s
why I’m lying here, wide awake, my
naughty little voice on over-time, thinking of that one poor review and
wondering what I could have done better; castigating my desire to please whilst
contemplating thrashing myself with a branch from my neighbours Weeping Willow
for a poor performance and then just as quickly being annoyed with myself for
allowing one review to overshadow all the lovely ones that readers, reviewers
and bloggers had so kindly taken the time to leave.
To comfort myself, I started browsing Amazon and Goodreads
for my favourite authors to see if they had any 2* reviews, and was surprised
to see they did, which then made me wonder how they coped, how did they deal
After much soul searching, I decided that low rating reviews
should be taken as a learning curve, a sort of positive critique to benefit my
writing. Mentally punching my naughty little voice on the nose, I set
about confronting critique head-on. I
accepted an invitation by a local Reading Group to be present when they
reviewed my book, which they had read the previous month.
I mentioned my decision to friends, fellow authors and
“You need your head reading…”
“Don’t do it, just don’t….”
“Authors don’t do that, it’s just….
well, plain daft!”
“Are you mad?”
“Always knew there was something
masochistic about you.”
Well, that told me, didn’t it? But could I really afford to be so precious
about my ‘baby’ that I wasn’t willing to accept or listen to views and critique
from those who had bought and read my book, the very same people I am trying to
So, here I am, perched on a bar stool, which
being seriously vertically challenged took me a very ungainly five-minutes to
get on to, slugging a double Gin in front of forty plus women with a huge
backdrop screen showing my face and my book, whilst I wait for their good and
bad reviews of Handcuffs, Truncheon and a
I smile nicely, probably more with a ‘please don’t eat me alive’ look as the
whites of my eyes shine in the sun-lit room, my heart is pounding, perspiration
is beginning to trickle down my back as my naughty
little voice screams loudly in my mind……
‘I hope your not wearing that ruddy
stick-on bra from Amazon again...!’
….. as I quickly tuck my chiffon top between my upper thighs
and squeeze my knees together tightly.
* * * *
Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong
is the next book on my list so watch out for my review coming soon.
You can find out more about Gina and connect with her using the links below:
I'd like to thank Gina for taking the time to write her wonderful guest post and for stopping by today, it's been an absolute pleasure having you here. 😉