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Tina Baker, the daughter of a window cleaner and fairground traveller, worked as a journalist and broadcaster for thirty years and is probably best known as a television critic for the BBC and GMTV. After so many hours watching soaps gave her a widescreen bum, she got off it and won Celebrity Fit Club. She now avoids writing-induced DVT by working as a Fitness Instructor.
Call Me Mummy is Tina's first novel, inspired by her own unsuccessful attempts to become a mother. Despite the grief of that, she's not stolen a child - so far. But she does rescue cats, whether they want to be rescued or not.
Tina's second novel, Nasty Little Cuts is published by Viper Books next February
Being terrified of spelling lessons in Infants. We had words on cards. and I dreaded a card being turned over and asked to spell something I couldn’t. It’s ironic because I loved reading and could usually work out meanings from context, even though I read all my dad’s books which were very, very age inappropriate.
I remember reading Wind in the Willows during a terrifying thunderstorm when I was home alone as a kid – both my parents worked and I’ve no idea where my brother as at the time.
A lot of nice middleclass literature – like The Railway Children and pretty much all Ladybird books and the entirety of Enid Blyton – didn’t really speak to me.
Little Black Sambo made me feel frightened. Even though I couldn’t articulate it as a child, it felt wrong. I have a Ghanaian middle name – Ewuraesi (lady born on Sunday) – and got enough taunts for that, along with living in a caravan. I wonder if the teachers realised what kicked off in the playground after some kids read books like that.
The Chopper, Skinhead, Bikers, Suedehead pulp fiction series – huge at the time in my school where skinhead fashion was everything – think Slade in the early years before platform shoes and glam rock.
The depictions of sex and violence were pitch perfect for teenagers like us. The racism was the only thing we didn’t get. I doubt if anything like this would see the light of day now. The trigger warnings alone would be a book in themselves.
I’ve re-read Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates – a fictionalised account of Marilyn Monroe’s life – three or four times. I love her writing.
I sometimes re-read books I’ve studied in the past – Hardy, Beckett, Dickens, Lawrence, Plath – as a comfort blanket.
And I read a passage from Jonathan Livingston Seagull at my mum’s funeral.
V.L Valentine’s Begar’s Abbey. An ARC! I had no idea what an ARC was until I got published and people started sending me things to review.
I now get all the Viper books I want before they come out and it’s like Christmas every time I get Book Post!
When I got a poem put up on the wall in Infants. ‘Psychedelic Cecil with his eyelashes bright and gay.’ That sums up the entire Sixties for me. I wrote poems and stories from then on.
The English teacher must have groaned when she set homework. Normal kids gave in a couple of pages and I’d poll up with about forty, featuring multiple timelines, ALL the adjectives, gory death scenes, the lot!
I think I did before the pandemic, but then I had a total meltdown and found it difficult to read, let alone write. I don’t have set times to write, but I try to do a bit most days around my day job – teaching keep fit classes and doing personal training sessions.
I used to write a little every day, but now I’m only just getting back to a rhythm that can encompass my new improved levels of anxiety. At least I can sleep now. I had thirteen months when the insomnia was so bad I could barely function.
I edit as I go along. Fear spurs me on.
Like Call Me Mummy, it’s another domestic noir/ psychological thriller.
Very dark. I bloody hate Christmas, so, again, this is set just before the most stressful time of the year. Who amongst us has not wanted to smash our partner’s head in with the egg pan when pushed to the limit?
The Cuts of the title are all the little wounds that fester and the resentments that build in a relationship until it’s all out warfare – a fight to the death between husband and wife.
My favourite character is the rescue dog, Get Down Lulu.
I’ve just signed with Viper for another two thrillers. Yay! Also, eek! I already have a couple of first drafts – a novel set in a circus and a jolly little tome about revenge porn – but the one I’m currently working on involves burials in the back garden and a drug-fuelled trip to Spain which goes horrifically wrong.
My ambition is to keep writing and improving, treading the line between humour and horror, and serving up my heart, soul and psyche on a plate.
Foolish folk have asked this and five hours later are still standing there being regaled with ‘hilarious’ anecdotes about my fur babies’ individual foibles involving a PowerPoint presentation and interpretive dance.
At the moment (and I’m not committing to this number in the future) we have:
Splodge Statham – does not live up to his surname
Pinky Snowdrop – totally toothless
Tiger Pansy – built like a tank
Bertie The Emotional Support Kitten – sweetheart
I would die for them.
Don’t tell them, I also want a dog. And Alpacas.
All things Viper Books. The authors who are my new friends. Their social media support has kept me alive during the dark days of shielding. The books, which range from historical to horror, via crime and psychological thrillers. Like it says on the tin, all are Books With Bite. The publishers – lovely decent humans.
Waterstones Crouch End. As I wrote my first novel while doing a part-time MA in Creative Writing, this bookshop opened on the road where I live! I took it as a sign. Every time I walked past, I’d do a little song, ‘This is my window, This is my window, This is where my book will be…’ And then it happened!
My book came out during lockdown, so it took a while for it to happen, but this is proof to me that dreams – as long as you hold onto them, no matter what – can and do come true.
When I go in, as I do regularly, to squeak and run around like a demented whippet, they are always lovely to me.
Douglas Stuart. Shuggie Bain is heart-rending, beautifully written and it spoke directly to me. I grew up in a pit town that no longer has any pits. Many of my working class experiences are mirrored in the pages of Shuggie. I love the characters so much. Nothing since Kes has affected me as much.
I also love the author. Every time I see him interviewed, I respect and love him more. He followed me back on Twitter and it felt like an affirmation. Bless Shuggie and bless Dougie.
TIna was also kind enough to design TWO bookmarks for us. These limited edition bookmarks (*Warning, one is X rated) are free to the first 50 customers using the discount code tinabaker at checkout, the code also gives you 10% discount for your entire basket