About the book

The five year old clung limpet-like to his khaki-clad leg. The four year old wailed. The two year old wandered about the kitchen in his nappy looking utterly confused. I swallowed hard, choking on the words. ‘I love you,’ I whispered, ‘please take care.’ He strode down the path, unable to look back.

One Forces’ husband bound for Afghanistan. Three sons under six. And me: the mum, the MOB.

For several days, and especially those first looong weekends, I cried. A lot. I met up with a fellow Forces wife, whose husband was on the same tour as mine. We cried together. A bit.

‘I’m thinking of setting up as a florist…’ she announced one weekend, mid-sobs.

I stared at her. The idea of doing anything more than merely surviving the next six months seemed as foreign to me as the country where my husband was working.

‘A florist?’ I said.

‘Yes, I’ve always wanted to give it a go… and now seems like a good time to do something different… give me something to focus on while ‘the boys’ are away.’

I nodded, thoughtful.


I couldn’t wait for Monday morning.

I dropped my biggest boy at school, and the other two at nursery. I had exactly 2 ¾ hours before pick up. Found the magazine, picked up the phone and enrolled in a course with The Writer’s Bureau.


When I was eight, I read The Young Visitors by Daisy Ashford. I decided, then and there, that I, like Daisy, would be a writer. So write I did. Tales of hedgehogs and horses, poems about roses and love, stories of travel and emotional turmoil. I was a great writer; my mum said so. ‘You always write such beautiful thank you letters,’ she said. My maternal Granny agreed, ‘They’re lovely letters darling, just lovely.’ My school ma’am paternal Grandmama sent them back. Errors underlined indelibly in red.

I continued to read… and write.

But I hadn’t taken it seriously – ’til now. In the absence of my dearly beloved, I threw myself into my assignments, relishing my new-found license to write. I attended writers’ events, talked to established writers, got plenty of ‘constructive’ criticism, endeavoured to improve. I wrote – as they tell you to – about what I knew. I wrote about my life, my family, about the trials and tribulations of being a mother… of boys.

In November 2009, husband home mercifully safe and sound, the Guardian published one of my pieces. ‘Wilder, rougher, smuttier…life with boys.’ The headline capped a none-too-flattering photo of me in my jeans.

‘It’s great!’ said friends (presumably about the article, not my jeans). ‘You should write a book!’

And thus, MOB Rule was born.  Well, conceived anyway.

So I’d snatch hours at the keyboard between sundry drop offs and last minute pick ups, minutes between putting on the washing and hanging it out. I’d scribble anecdotes on the back of shopping lists in the middle of Sainsburys, jot down brainwaves mid-soup stir or at the kitchen sink. Some nights I dreamt in artistic alliteration.

A little longer than the average pregnancy later, the book was born. Gingerly, I passed it into the nurturing arms of my agent. And waited.


So now, my Forces’ wife friend lives in Wales surrounded by avalanche roses and her stunning creations.

And I still dream in alliteration, though thankfully not quite as frequently as before.

My Grandmama died just after I’d heard MOB Rule would be published by Bloomsbury.  I told her quietly, as she lay in her bed. I’d like to think she heard, and perhaps understood.

MOB Rule will be published by Bloomsbury on January 17th 2013

4 thoughts on “About the book

  1. I came here for the Christmas list tips… but it’s actually this book that I want now! I remember your Guardian article, and think of it often since I became a mum of three boys in May this year. My boys are 4, 2 and 6 months. And I fit in writing around them – including some for Bloomsbury!

    • Hi Isabel Thanks for visiting the blog and congratulations on joining the MOB! You must be right in the midst of comments like ‘You’ve got your hands full!’ and of course, the ultimate ‘Are you going for a girl?’ Will check out your Bloomsbury books – well done for fitting in writing with such bundles of boy fun!

  2. Glad to find you! I too am a MOB… 4 all born within 5.5 years. They are now 21-16. It is a special life experience that binds us together. Typical comments in the US are the “are they all yours” and “you have your hands full” variety….but in Italy it was astounding… “Congratulations to the Mother” “Oh my, 4 boys, what a great blessing.” What a country!

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