Author Kirsty Eyre discusses her novel, Cow Girl, the winner of the Comedy Women in Print Prize. Welcome Kirsty!
Author Name: Kirsty Eyre
Book Title: Cow Girl
Book Genre: Comedy, Women’s fiction, LGBTQ+
Release Date: September 3, 2020
Publisher: Harper Collins
How would you describe your latest book?
Cow Girl is a queer romantic comedy: Billie, a thirty something scientist ditches London to run her dad’s dairy farm when he falls in. Battling misogyny, homophobia and the turbulence of romance, Billie eventually wins over the farming community who affectionately dub her the ‘cow girl.’
What sparked the idea for Cow Girl?
My mum and stepdad moved to the Derbyshire/Yorkshire border to retire (I grew up in Sheffield) and a local dairy farm about a mile away became my muse for writing. The sounds and smells of cows combined with the surrounding scenery of the Peak District were a great source of inspiration. If I’m honest though, it was Billie’s voice that came first. I originally wrote the whole book in diary format, allowing for lots of interiority – I’d previously written stage plays so writing description has always felt daunting to me and a journal felt like the easy way out. Of course, it wasn’t. And it involved a whole re-write!
How long did it take for you to write the book? Did you do have to do any research?
Cow Girl is my debut and took me the best part of three years to write (alongside working my day job and bringing up two young children). I had to do a ton of dairy farming research and watched a lot of YouTube videos featuring everything from milking to hoof trimming, freeze branding to delivering a calf. It was fascinating and I really enjoyed reading about cows and their psychology. I wanted a pet cow by the end of the process!
Oh, wow. A pet cow would have been quite the family addition! What drew you to the women’s fiction genre? Or IS the book women’s fiction? Comedy?
Genre classification is a funny old thing. Comedy is usually defaulted to sit under commercial fiction and romantic comedy under Women’s Commercial fiction, and because Billie, my protagonist, is a lesbian, the novel also sits under LGBTQ+ Women’s Commercial fiction. I wonder whether genre, like gender, will become more fluid in the way it’s presented in the future. I’ve always loved writing comedy – I used to write sketches which over time developed into stage plays before I had kids and got a lot of satisfaction from making people laugh. Winning the Comedy Women in Print Prize with Cow Girl has not only been amazing for me as an individual but also for funny female fiction as a whole. CWIP recognises that comedy is a craft in its own right and shines a light on humorous writing.
I love that! For you, what’s the hardest thing about writing?
Time…or lack of. School closures, young children, a day job and very little mental space to create. I find writing isn’t the sort of thing you can flit in and out of; you need a proper block of time to submerge yourself in the world that you’re creating. I used to type at my laptop in the car outside ninja-school whilst my children were entertained for an hour – you have to grab every moment you can. I’m writing this in a caravan in Whitstable from a three day family holiday whilst my kids are arguing over Beyblades (metal spinning tops; nothing to do with knife crime!).
Ha, so true! And what do you love most about writing?
I do a little clap each time I open my laptop to write because it feels like such a treat and a privilege (I’m not even kidding and hope nobody has ever seen this). I make myself a pot of Darjeeling tea and have these little chintzy teacups I bought in a charity shop which I use and pretend I’m dead posh. I love finding something as I’m writing – maybe a scene will unfold or I’ll discover a character’s backstory – it’s very fulfilling when the ideas come.
If you were speaking to someone who hasn’t read your writing before, why should they want to read Cow Girl?
Cow Girl offers escapism, adventure and humour. If you’re looking for a funny, feel-good story with a bit of grit, then hopefully Cow Girl is for you.
Book reviewer, Sarra Manning, from Red Magazine says this about it: “As you’d expect from the winner of last year’s Comedy Winner In Print unpublished novel award, Cow Girl is very funny and a breath of (slightly manure-scented) fresh air.”
How does your day job inform your novel writing?
By day, I am a Communications Manager in an IT department, which is neither romantic nor comic and involves report writing to deadline and producing presentations. Although it doesn’t exercise my creative brain, it does help with “cutting out the fat” from a story and getting fewer words to do the talking. It also provides a lot of material for office parody and I look forward to writing a corporate comedy one day.
Ooh, that’s useful! What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
Outside of writing and reading, I love running (part of my writing thinking process), hanging out with friends, day trips to the seaside and drinking lots of tea. I used to do a fair bit of snowboarding which I hope to revisit at some point, if my middle-aged knees are up to it!
Are you working on a new project?
I’m working on a couple of things at the moment. One is my second novel, Goddesses of Barnsley, a tragicomedy about three singer sisters. I also have another project on the go which involves writing under a pseudonym and centres on a holiday romance in Cyprus.
Where can readers find you (website, blog, social media, etc.)?
Cow Girl is now available in audio, paperback and Kindle version.
I’m always delighted to hear from readers. You can find me on: Twitter: @KirstyJaneEyre Insta: @eyre.kirsty https://www.facebook.com/kirstyjaneeyre
Thank you, Kirsty! Cow Girl is available NOW.
Winner of the Comedy Women in Print Prize
“Inspired and stylish” – Jenny Eclair
“Original and witty” – Helen Lederer
When her father falls ill, Billie leaves her life in London to return to the dairy farm she grew up on in Yorkshire. The transition from city girl to country lass isn’t easy, not least because leaving London means leaving her relationship with Joely Chevalier, just as it was heating up.
When she gets to Yorkshire, Billie is shocked to discover the family dairy farm is in dire straits – the last thing Billie expected was a return to the life of a farmer but it isn’t long before she’s up at 5am in manure-caked wellies.
Battling misogyny, homophobia and the turbulence of romance, Billie must find a way to keep the herd of unpredictable cows happy, save the farm and save herself…
Kirsty grew up in South Yorkshire, idolising comedy writers like Sue Townsend. Having studied languages at Nottingham Trent University, her love for theatre led her to write and direct several comedy stage-plays, which received favourable reviews at the Edinburgh and Brighton Fringe festivals. Her recent influences are Maria Semple, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Caitlin Moran and Dolly Alderton. Kirsty now lives in South East London with her partner and two children. She loves tea and friendship. Her first novel, Cow Girl, won the inaugural Comedy Women in Print Award and a publishing contract with Harper Collins.