Friday, October 23, 2015

Goddess Fish Book Promotions Book Tours Book Review & Interview: Up and In

Up and In
by Deborah Disney


GENRE: Women’s Fiction



Distinctly middle-class parents, Maria and Joe have committed every bit of available income to giving their daughters Kate and Sarah the best education possible, which to them means attending the most exclusive girls school in the state. But when Kate befriends the spoilt and moody Mirabella, Maria finds herself thrust into a high society of champagne-swilling mother-istas she hasn't budgeted for. Saturday morning netball is no longer a fun mother-daughter outing, but a minefield of social politics.

While the increasingly neurotic Maria struggles to negotiate the school mum hierarchy, Joe quietly battles a midlife crisis and Kate attempts to grow up as gracefully as possible (without having her life ruined by embarrassing parents).

For every woman who has ever felt she may be wearing the wrong shoes, this is a book that will remind you - you're not alone.

Fans of Liane Moriarty and Fiona Higgins are sure to enjoy this debut offering from new Australian author, Deborah Disney.


Who is your favorite author?

Too hard. Next. Just kidding – but it is a very hard question to answer – there are so many I love for different reasons. I was weaned on a diet of Dr Seuss and I adore his books to this day. I love his quirky way of seeing things. Elizabeth Gilbert is so incredibly generous with her writing gift. She is truly inspiring to so many people. A well-known Brisbane author, Rebecca Sparrow, has been extremely supportive of me with my first book. I reached out to her because from having read her work, and knowing that she is a big netball fan (Up and In being about a group of mothers whose daughters all play in the same netball team) I thought she might like it. Not only did she like it, she plastered all over Facebook how much she LOVED it and that was a huge boost for it in its early days. And then there are the truly wonderful author friends I have made – especially Sara Donovan who is totally a soul sister for me, and Tess Woods who I almost can’t imagine life without now. She is an amazing cheerleader for so many of us – I am in awe of her generosity and energy!

How many books do you usually read in a year?

Not as many as I would like, that’s for sure. But one of the biggest perks of being an author is that I can say I am reading ‘for work’ ;-)

If you could have dinner with one person past or present, who would it be and what would you talk about?

No brainer. My Dad. He passed away 5 years ago and I would give anything for another dinner with him! We would talk about everything and nothing – just like we always did.

What was your inspiration for Up and In?

I have been, over the years, frequently bewildered by the behaviour of some women I have encountered. When examples of similar behaviour kept popping up in conversations with friends who had seemingly encountered similar women who had the ‘ability’ to make them feel like crap for no good reason, I thought, you know, maybe I could write a book about this that would help women realise that none of this sort of rubbish behaviour says anything about them – it just says an awful lot about the people engaging in the rubbish behaviour!

Do you identify with any of the characters in Up and In?

I can definitely identify with the main character, Maria, wanting to do whatever she can for her children to be happy. One of the biggest challenges of parenting is being brave enough to let your children experience disappointment. It’s an important part of their growth as an empathetic human and it’s something I continue to work on as far as trying to shut down my Mama Bear instincts and just support them through their painful experiences instead of feeling like I should be going in and making all the wrongs right for them.


There it was again. That damned full stop. How does so much passive aggression fit itself into such a tiny punctuation mark?

Fine with me.

‘Fine with me, full stop.’

‘Fine with me full stop, no x.’

‘Fine with me full stop no x, no way am I ever going to let you think you are in any way deserving of the lathered-up, flattery-filled, signed-off-with-a-kiss kind of email I always send to everyone else on this email list.’

And there you have it. That is what she was able to say to me with one little full stop.

Of course, if any of the obsessively-stroking-and-simultaneously-self-aggrandising netball mums on this email list ever decided just to hit ‘Reply’ instead of ‘Reply all’ to the coach’s weekly email, I probably wouldn’t know that this little full stop means that I am absolutely, categorically, no longer in the fold. Unfortunately, because I am still on the email list, every week my inbox fills with messages ending with ‘x’ – not emails addressed specifically to me, just a plethora of inappropriately ‘Reply all’ emails sent to every woman with a daughter in the Red Rockets Under 10 Division 1 netball team. Every ‘x-ending’ email I have read over this netball season has served to reinforce the knowledge that if I were the object of Bea’s contrived affections her response to my offer to organise a group gift for our daughters’ netball coach would instead have gone more like this:

(Reply all)

Oh Maria, you are always so thoughtful. Of course I had been planning to find Linney the perfect gift – she has done such a stellar job with the girls this season! Sadly, I am just run off my feet this week. With putting the finishing touches on the gala, and having the nanny taking time off for her final exams, I just haven’t had a chance to even think! You are a life saver! Truly. I can’t wait to see what you choose – you have such impeccable taste! By the way, where did you get those absolutely to-die-for wellies you were wearing last week? I absolutely covet them. I just have to have some. Anyway, I must press on, I have a hundred emails to get through. I see another one just popped up from the Governor’s Office. Did I mention that the Governor and his wife will be joining us at the gala? I have known him forever, of course. Just adored his Christmas card last year! Remind me to tell you about it. Thanks again for organising the gift. You are an absolute gem! Bea x

I guess, in a way, ‘Fine with me full stop’ is in fact a lot easier than the alternative. Back when I actually gave a damn what Bea thought of me, the alternative would have filled me with insecurity. What kind of ‘perfect’ gift would she have chosen for Linney? Did she really like my wellies? Would she ever choose them over her Louboutin ballet flats to go to an Under 10’s netball game – even when the grounds were covered in mud like when I wore mine the previous week – or did she really just plan to sit them on the porch by way of decor at her thousand-acre ‘hobby’ farm up the coast? How would I confess that I actually bought them at Kmart? And shit, shit, shit, the Governor is coming to the gala? It was bad enough that I had to hide from Joe that it was costing us $500 a head just to be at the gala, but now I would have to somehow convince him to pay a grand for a decent new dinner suit as well?

I have to wonder, though, if it was really such a relief to open up her fine-with-me-full-stop email, instead of receiving one of the phoney rambling prop-ups she sends to all the other netball mums – the ‘lower-case beas’ – then why did it feel like I had just had my face slapped?

Admittedly, I cared a hell of a lot less than I once would have. Before I realised that my name had been wiped off the Bea-list, ‘Fine with me full stop’ would have spiralled me into days of tortured analysis. What did I say that I shouldn’t have? Is she upset that I invited Lauren’s daughter for a play with Kate instead of asking Mirabella? What is it? What did I do? Did she wave to me in traffic and I missed it? Did Kate do something to upset Mirabella? Is it because Kate got a better score than Mirabella at the eisteddfod?

After being off the Bea-list for almost six months now, though, I have started training myself to see things differently. When I think about what got me wiped off the Bea-list in the first place, my reaction to her flagrant snubbery is now more a mixture of amusement and incredulity, rather than feeling any sense of self-recrimination.

Review: It is funny. I'm not a mom, nor did I ever have hopes of being one but I found I loved this book. There's something about this kind of story that makes me think of sitcoms. Fun sitcoms, that they don't make anymore, or a movie. I was trying to figure out how to cast this book the whole time I was reading

I found it amusing that as parents they were trying to be something that they weren't and how they were trying desperately to be liked by the wealthy parents that they were associating with because they were sending their children to the "right" school.

The parents from the right side of town are the Beas, with Bea being the Queen Bea so to speak. Maria's daughter Kate befriends her daughter Mirabella, and that's how everything starts. As the story goes on you see mother and daughter losing themselves trying to be like their friends or rather so called friends. It becomes apparent quickly that not many of the Beas are really friends with Maria and Kate, at times I thought, for the love of god, send her to a different school, get her out of these activities, Circus School? Who has this? What sane mum would pay for this?

I really wanted Maria to stand up to these women, especially when they were being particularly nasty.

This was really a light easy read that is really entertaining and super fun. The ending is perfect though I'm not sure Bea's response to Maria's message was really realistic considering her past behavior.

Rating: 4 stars


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Australian author, Deborah Disney, grew up in the regional city of Toowoomba and now lives in Brisbane with her husband and two school-aged daughters. Deborah has a BA/LLB from the University of Queensland and practised as a solicitor for a number of years prior to having children. She chose to specialise in litigation law as that seemed like the best preparation for what is now her looming battle – mothering her daughters through the teenage years. Deborah's first novel, Up and In, is a satirical look at the interactions of school and sporting mums.



Deborah will be awarding an eCopy of Up and In to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour, and choice of 5 digital books from the Impulse line to a randomly drawn host.

a Rafflecopter giveaway