| LONDON, June 12
LONDON, June 12 A British writer whose debut
novel about mothers at the school gate sparked a seven-way
bidding war between publishers has attributed the overnight
success of her book to striking a chord with women used to
negotiating the politics of female groups.
The hype around "The Hive" led to Gill Hornby being
described as publisher Little Brown's "most important new author
of 2013" and NBC Universals' arthouse Focus Features snapped up
the film rights even before the book's release on May 23.
Hornby said she was slightly bemused by all the attention
for her book which hit the top 10 bestselling fiction list in
the UK in its first week, drawing comparisons to the huge
success of EL James's "Fifty Shades of Grey" series last year.
After all it is Hornby's first novel although she is far
from new to publishing. She is married to Robert Harris,
best-selling author of thrillers like "Enigma" and "Archangel"
and her brother Nick Hornby wrote "High Fidelity" and "Fever
Hornby, who has four children aged 12 to 22, said the book
took her two years to write but was in her head for years.
"I've always been very conscious about the groups girls and
women make but I was too busy living the life to write about
it," Hornby told Reuters in a telephone interview.
"This book is based at a school but really it is about women
and their relationships .. about ordinary, domestic life."
"The Hive" is based at a fictional school, St Ambrose
Primary, in a smart English rural town, which has a new
headmaster and a group of mothers committed to raising funds for
his plan to build a new school library.
The fund-raising is led by the undisputed queen bee Beatrice
while Heather desperately tries to be more popular and other
mothers steer clear or unintentionally fuel the rivalries,
one-upmanship and smugness that comes with mother-led school
As the cliques swerve the lunch ladder and car boot sale,
the school year becomes the backdrop of various life-changing
events from broken relationships, depression, to cancer scares.
Hornby, a columnist with the Daily Telegraph until 2010,
said the characters were based on the six roles outlined in
Rosalind Wiseman's 2002 book "Queen Bees and Wannabes" that
dealt with girls' friendships and conflicts.
The six are the Queen Bee, the sidekick, wannabe, floater,
target, and torn bystander.
"The book is not autobiographical and not revenge against
anybody. I've always been an amused observer," said Hornby,
Hornby is working on her second book about another group of
women in the same town who are 15 years older with departed
children and downplays "The Hive" being hailed as starting a new
genre for women who are the main buyers of fiction.
Publishers have been trying to second guess the next big
trend among women readers after the phenomenal success last year
of "Fifty Shades of Grey" which appealed to a wide group of
older women no longer interested in the shelf loads of chicklit.
"After mummy porn, mumlit?" asked the Guardian newspaper.
"I do worry about people comparing it to "50 Shades" because
there is no sex at all in my book," said Hornby.