Interview: Nikki Perry and Kirsty Roby talk about How to Marry Harry
Nikki Perry and Kirsty Roby are sisters from New Zealand, approaching middle age gracelessly. They are best friends, avid readers, writers, foodies and cocktail enthusiasts. Kirsty is based in Auckland and trained as an early childhood teacher, but now volunteers at Radio Lollipop. Nikki divides her time between their hometown of Tauranga and Wellington. They talk to NZ Booklovers about How to Marry Harry.
Tell us a little about How to Marry Harry.
It's a romantic comedy about Jo, a middle aged woman who is at a bit of a crossroads. She and her sister Bobbi go on a quest to the UK to convince Harry Styles that her daughter Bayley would make the perfect girlfriend, armed with a cardboard cutout of her in a skimpy red bikini.
What inspired you to write this book?
Boredom. We love to travel together and had plans to backpack in Vietnam. Then COVID hit and that was canceled. Also Harry Styles; we were new fans and were quite fascinated by him. As a joke we said we should write what we know, which is being sisters, alcohol and Harry and the idea stuck.
How did you manage to write a book together as sisters?
We started off each writing a sister. By the time we got to the second draft we could both write all the characters, we knew them so well. Reading it back now it's sometimes hard to remember who wrote each bit. We plot it all out first, which takes longer than the writing does, then we have our outline to follow. We use a google doc and sometimes if one person gets stuck we'll just finish mid chapter and the other person will take over. We tend to plot better when we're together but write better apart. We spend a lot of time on the phone.
What was you process? Did you have any disagreements, and if so, how were things resolved?
We hardly ever argue. We thought it might be hard having to change or critique each other's writing but that turned out to be quite easy. We're a bit ruthless with each other but it helps that we're sisters and less worried about offending each other.
If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.
There would have to be at least one Harry Styles song so we'd pick 'Meet me in the Hallway' and Kelsea Ballerini 'Hole in the bottle'.
If your book was made into a movie who would you like to see play the lead characters?
Melanie Lynskey for Bobbi, Jodie Rimmer for Jo, Gerard Butler for Kelly and of course Harry as himself.
What did you enjoy the most about writing this novel?
Seeing what the other person has written; you get to read the book yourself as a reader rather than a writer - and you only have to do half the work.
What did you do to celebrate finishing the book?
We are holding two book launches; one in Auckland and one in Tauranga to celebrate with the people who have supported us along the way. We're also planning on getting matching tattoos at some point in the future.
What is the favourite book you have read this year and why?
Kirsty: Gigi Fenster 'A Good Winter'. It was dark and complex and the main character was fascinating.
Nikki: R W R McDonald 'The Nancy's'. I love a book set in New Zealand. This was funny and warm with very real characters.
What's next on the agenda for you?
We have book two ready for release later this year. It includes a desperate housewife, a religious cult and a plumbing van. Currently plotting book three.