My First Time...with Gabrielle Fernie
Gabrielle Fernie trained as an actress, gaining a BA (Hons) Acting for Film and Television at Arts Educational Schools London. Her hobbies include embarrassing her parents, putting her foot in it, repulsing the entire male population and forgetting to shave her legs.
Having spent 23 years entertaining her friends with her toe-curling stories, she decided to start writing them into a blog, loveisa4letterturd.com, which Caitlin Moran called 'filthy, immoral, incredibly funny'. Her memoir, LUSH: A TRUE STORY, SOAKED IN GIN, was published by Sphere (Little, Brown) in August this year.
Lucky for us, Gabrielle will also be reading her book at The Riff Raff on Thursday 11 October and we honestly can't wait.
Describe the exact moment you decided to write your book?
I was always that one friend who people would ring up ‘the morning after the night before’, when they’d done something truly embarrassing. Mainly, because I could be relied upon to have done something ten times worse myself.
I thought, ‘If I can make my friends laugh this much with these stories, then maybe they’ll cheer other people up too’. I think girls these days feel so much pressure to be these clean eating, gym-loving, planet-saving perfectionists, and it’s healthy sometimes for someone to hold their hands up and say, ‘Look. I drank two bottles of merlot last night, smoked a packet of fags and tried to invite my Uber driver indoors. And I feel very little remorse’.
What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting to write it?
That I do NOT have all the time in the world to write this book and those eight months are going to go pretty bloody quickly. I came up with all these elaborate plans for how I would write the book, rather than just sitting down and actually writing it.
One of these plans was to rent myself a cottage for a week in Cornwall, which I did. I had this romantic idea that I would write the entire book whilst staring out at sea, and then perhaps be seduced by some lithe young fisherman.
What really happened was the minute I arrived in Cornwall I came down with a raging wisdom tooth infection, ignored the emergency dentist’s instructions to ‘avoid alcohol on these antibiotics’ and spent the entire week completely off my rocker. Not once putting pen to paper. After that, I knuckled down and got to work.
What did you enjoy most about writing it?
I loved being as eye-wateringly honest as possible. I have to filter myself (slightly) in day-to-day life, but when writing the memoir there were really no holds barred.
I kept writing bits and thinking, ‘I’m sure this will get taken out in the editing process’ but nothing really was.
And the worst part?
As Lush is a non-fiction book, there was a huge amount of legal stuff to go through once it was written. This included tracking down ex-lovers and asking permission to include them in the book. Which was an absolute riot, I can tell you. Especially as some of them had blocked me.
I almost think I could write a second book purely talking about the aftermath of Lush, as it has proved hilariously eventful.
What’s your go-to procrastination method?
Online shopping. It became a bit of a problem. I’d be sat on my laptop, trying to write a chapter and then find myself clicking onto a random site, like Robert Dyas, and ordering a load of ‘essentials’ for the flat that I did not need, like a replacement mop head.
In the end I’d have to work somewhere with little to no Internet connection, like the park or my parents' house.
Go-to writing snacks?
Does gin count?
The book that changed you?
The one book that I have read about 147 times and which fundamentally shaped me as an adult is Jilly Cooper’s ‘Riders’. In fact, the entire Rutshire Chronicles really. Not only did I get my entire sexual education from these books and fantasise daily about the character of Rupert Campbell Black, but also they are just so incredibly written. Jilly Cooper creates this amazing world where sex, scandal and drinking rules all and it’s something that I’ve worked hard to recreate in my daily life.
Your pump up song?
T. Rex., I Love To Boogie.
If you could share a bottle of wine with one writer, who would it be?
One piece of advice you’d give first time writers hoping to get published?
I don’t think you can underestimate the power of social media these days. My book deal came from a blog I started, which I shamelessly plastered over my Twitter and Facebook page, inviting friends and strangers to read and pass judgement on my work.
Then I plucked up the courage to tweet the blog to one of my all time favourite writers, Caitlin Moran and cringed about it for hours afterwards. To my amazement, she not only read it, but also sent me the most amazing tweet back. And everything kicked off from there!
Why do you write?
To make other people laugh. And because I can’t get any acting work.