Serena Terry releases ‘Mammy Banter’ book: ‘Tara is everyone and everyone is Tara’
The last two years have been a whirlwind for Derry’s Serena Terry and the launch of her new book promises to whip it up even faster.
Social media star Serena’s alter ego the very relatable ‘Mammy Banter,’ whose hilarious clips have won fans the world over.
While the comedy and fun are major reasons for Serena’s success, she is also popular due to her relatability and her aim of ‘telling it like it is,’ without the sugarcoating and perfectionism that social media can sometimes be.
These traits have also been passed over to her new book, ‘Mammy Banter: The Secret Life of An Uncool Mum,’ which was released yesterday, March 3 and is already receiving rave reviews.
The book tells the story of Tara Gallagher, a working, married, mammy of three who is ‘knackered’.
The blurb reads: “Tara Gallagher is knackered. She used to dream of being Beyoncé but suddenly she’s thirty-six – with three kids, a loving husband, a very boring job – and instead of headlining Coachella, she’s in her pyjamas on a Friday night, watching Gogglebox.
“It’s time for a mammy makeover. She’s going to show her teenage daughter she’s still cool. She’s going to show her husband she’s still an absolute ride. She’s going to show her colleagues she’s still a Boss Bish. But most of all, she’s going to prove to herself that she can still be a mum, still work full time, and still be Beyoncé...”
Serena’s debut novel deals with many issues and themes women - and not just mothers - face; getting older; the joy and agony of watching your children grow up, balancing work and motherhood/family life, anxiety, bullying, the importance of self-care, the love of family, a loss of identity, the patriarchy and much more.
Hugely relatable, packed with warmth and genuine laugh out loud moments, ‘Mammy Banter: The Secret Life Of An Uncool Mum’ takes all that makes Mammy Banter successful and wraps it up in a gorgeous story of love and life.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’ ahead of the launch, Serena told how she is ‘really excited’ for people to read what she has written, which is a ‘complete change of direction’ for her.
“I had a great team working with me - Claire Allan (author) and Martha Ashby (editorial director at Harper Collins.) I had the idea and the character all worked out and was sending it all to them. They were able to advise me on how there has to be an arc to the story, as well as pacing etc and I learned loads. They were adamant that we were to ‘write to the masses,’ and that really opened my mind. The audience for the book, compared to that for my social media, is so different.”
While Tara is a mammy living in Derry and there are definitely many local references and ‘Derryisms’ - like the words ‘wain’ and ‘boke’ in the book, it is also written in a way that doesn’t alienate readers not living here.
“She’s definitely a Derry mammy, but even more so in the Audible version. I think I put a lot more Derry in that!”
The book came to fruition after Serena was approached by Harper Collins, who saw her sketches and videos and told her she had the ‘mind of an author’.
“They asked me if I’d like to ‘flesh out’ the Mammy Banter character in a book and I was delighted. It was really exciting. I was able to do a bit of market research in my videos, in that I would put ideas in there for the character and see how people responded. I think it was the best thing to do, as it was totally immersive. There are so many relatable issues in there like putting on weight, children growing up, trying to find things for yourself and we look into the mind of Tara Gallagher. She is Mammy Banter and the book tells you who she is.
“I was able to go into her history and look at why she is who she is and her family. She has a massive love for her family and vice versa and I think that really comes across. One of the most important things for me was that people would relate to her.”
Serena is a huge advocate for positive mental health and the importance of self care and this is also a running theme throughout the book.
“It was also important for me to put in a piece about how Tara has anxiety and how that impacts her. Tara, like many women, is spinning a lot of plates. And I wanted to flesh out her character to show her personality and her feelings about herself. In one part of it, she is being seen as an embarrassing mum and she’s also someone going through her own stuff but is holding it together for herself and her family, It was important for me to show what mums -and women- go through.”
While old-school music, dance loving Tara finds herself in many very funny situations, the book also looks at issues such as patriarchy, as she looks for promotion, as well as bullying.
“There’s a bit of patriarchy in there as Tara is in competition for her promotion. That was something I wanted to look at. I also wanted to highlight working mums.
“Tara also comes to a realisation that she has been killing herself looking for this promotion. It’s a hard lesson for her, but she sees too that there’s a blessing in every lesson.
“The bullying issue is also a tough one as it’s really difficult to watch when it’s your child going through something like that.”
Tara’s love for her family, among all their setbacks , prevails throughout the book as does the need for mothers and women to also take care of themselves and their own needs.
“I think, for all the complaining and nagging we can sometimes do about our family and children, they are our world. They are the reason we exist. But I also wanted to show the importance of doing self care.
“We can be happy with our life and our children are our world, but they are not all you are and it’s ok to do things for you too.
“I really want people to enjoy this book. I want people to relate to it and realise they are not alone. Everyone is Tara and Tara is everyone. I hope it’s highlighting and talking about the issues and worries everyone has. I also hope there are things in the book that women who don’t have children are able to relate to as well.”
It is this ‘keeping it real’ attitude that has made Mammy Banter a hit across the world, as people rebel against the perfectionism of social media. Serena currently has over one million followers online; 850K on TikTok, 188K on Instagram, 400K on Facebook, and this is growing.
“The reason that I set Mammy Banter up is that the content I was seeing online wasn’t real. I felt myself getting insecure and down and comparing myself to others. But, then I realised that I control what I see and show. So I deleted my own Instagram and then I found Tik Tok, which I find is a lot more real.
“I was able to do my own thing on Tik Tok and it opened up my eyes to creating content, as well as the content people want to see. With Mammy Banter, there are three different audiences - Tik Tok, Instagram and Facebook.
“But, I’ve found that everyone supports the same things. People tell me it’s refreshing to see real life and that’s something I wanted to show in the book too.”
Serena recently put a post up on her social media to inject a ‘bit of reality’ into her feed, in which she told how she does not ‘bounce around all day cracking jokes’ and that ‘no-one does’.
She speaks about how she has a ‘million things’ that get her’ down’ sometimes, especially when she compares herself to the ‘airbrushed b*****t of ‘perfect people and their lives on social media..’ Serena added how she would rather be “real than whatever ‘perfect’ is any day of the week”.
And this is one of the biggest themes in ‘Mammy Banter: The Secret Life of An Uncool Mum’ - that it’s ok to be real and that life is messy and hilarious, sad, delightful and everything in between.
You can follow Serena Terry on her Mammy Banter pages on Instagram, Tik Tok and Facebook.
Her new book is now available in all major bookshops and online.