Review and Interview: Sherry & Narcotics ~ Nina-Marie Gardner

About the Author:

Nina-Marie Gardner was born in New York City. Her debut novel Sherry & Narcotics will be published in May 2011 (Future Fiction London). Her fiction has been published in 3AM Magazine and the anthologies Bedford Square and 3AM London, New York, Paris. A graduate of Yale University and the creative writing program at the University of London, Royal Holloway, she has lived and traveled extensively abroad. Currently she lives with her dog Lulu in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

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Product Details:
Future Fiction London,
216 pages
ISBN-10: 0982792824
ISBN-13: 978-0982792827

About Sherry & Narcotics

L'enfant terrible Nina-Marie Gardner wrote a devastating novel on the truth of love, booze, addiction, ecstasy, isolation in Manchester.

Now you can read it.

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My Review: 

As soon as I turned the last page of Sherry & Narcotics I could feel a tiny little piece of heart breaking of. This book had taught me so much and I have loved reading and every page. I gathered my thoughts on what I thought of it before emailing Nina or I would have emailed gobbledy-gook. It's amazing and brilliant and I just couldn't get enough of it. I really have no words to describe how much I loved it. I just hope people read my review and purchase a copy of this Sherry & Narcotics. Without me rambling on anymore here's my actual review of the book.

Sherry & Narcotics takes readers into the mind of a young women named Mary who struggles with grief, loss, love, addiction and isolation in Manchester. Her story soon unravels and readers will begin to connect and understand this character and what she is going through.

Mary's addiction with alcohol soon becomes obvious and I started to feel protective of her in some way. I read through the whole book without flicking till near the end. It is a very sad and happy yet compelling story and I simply couldn't get enough of it.

The author tells the story in such a way that you can't help but be happy for Mary and want things to turn out perfect for her. I knew from the very beginning that there was something up with JKake and I got proved right. Although he had a kind of irriestible charm about him and he seemed genuinely nice.

I want to read Sherry & Narcotic again and I will. I enjoyed reading every page thourghly. Mary's story was amazinaly told and is a unique brilliant truthful piece of work.


Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Well, I was born in New York City but grew up in a small town outside Boston, Massachusetts called Marblehead—supposedly the ‘Sailing Capital of the World’—but I was one of those girls who was obsessed with horses so that didn’t mean much to me. Although I love the ocean, and a large part of my next book is set in Marblehead.

Aside from horses, growing up I also loved acting, reading and writing. After graduating from Yale University where I studied English, I pursued a career as an actress in New York and Los Angeles for many years. Throughout this time, I continued to write short stories and non-fiction articles, and in 2004 I moved to London to do the Master’s in Creative Writing at the University of London, Royal Holloway.

I will probably be paying off my student loans for the rest of my life, but it was entirely worth it—truly an amazing experience. It was the first year of the program, taught by then Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion, so it felt very special—there was a small group of us—I think only seven fiction writers and seven poets. To have two years set aside, where writing ‘was allowed’ to be my primary focus, was heaven. During this time, I also worked as a dog-walker and children’s tutor—so when I wasn’t writing, I was working with these great kids across London, or hanging out with dogs in Victoria Park. Life was pretty perfect.

Going back to school in London also meant I had the chance to do more traveling, which I love. After I finished my degree, I stayed overseas and bounced all over the place—basically I spent a good five or six years living out of a knapsack. Now having too much stuff makes me nervous—owning only what I can carry myself is probably my optimal state. But I am pretty settled these days in Brooklyn. I have a dog.

What has your writing journey so far been like? (I.e When and why did you start writing, Any struggles along the way)

I always turned to books for escape and comfort, and I think writing was a natural extension of this. As early as I could put pen to paper, I was keeping a journal. But even though I was always writing, I never dared to consider myself ‘a writer.’ So much of it is confidence. At Yale I was surrounded by all these geniuses—including many who were already getting published in literary journals—so it was pretty daunting. I kept my head down and continued to write but never had the guts to submit anything or get involved in ‘the literary scene’—if there even was one.

After college when I was an actress, I was always taking fiction and short story workshops wherever I was—in New York or LA. But I didn't seriously consider making writing my focus until after 9/11, which forced me to think about what it was I really wanted to do—more than anything. That’s when I decided to apply to graduate programs in creative writing, and in 2004 I went off to London to do the MA program at Royal Holloway.

My journey as a writer has been a constant struggle—creatively, there’s the daily battle to get the work done, and financially its been a real struggle finding a day job that suits my writing life, since (my kind of) fiction really does not seem to pay. I used to do the essay editing Mary does in ‘Sherry & Narcotics’ but I found that really drained me of the juice I needed to write. In the last two years I’ve worked for a film producer and done some temping, but I’ve come to accept my office/administrative skills are a disaster. Currently I work part-time in bakery, and it’s definitely the best set-up I’ve had in ages. Writing fiction and baking cookies and cakes. Heaven.

Why should people read Sherry & Narcotics?

I like what some of the reviewers have said—that it’s a ‘must read for young women.’
On an entertainment-value level, I think it’s a wild ride. People have said it’s very dark, but as I was writing it, I found parts kind of hilarious (but that might just be me & my warped sense of humor.)

In ‘Sherry & Narcotics’, I wanted to write about an alcoholic (& love addict) in a way that might help people understand alcoholism and addiction better. There’s still such a stigma attached to these things—and yet so many people, I think, have had similar experiences to Mary—maybe not so extreme—but who hasn’t made bad choices, particularly in the romance department?

I’ve also been surprised by the range of people who have responded enthusiastically to it—I really did think most people would hate it.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

My own life and the work of my favorite writers, especially Jean Rhys and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Who designed the front cover?

This incredible artist Steve Byram, who also designed the cover for this amazing record by my best friend Gwyneth Herbert, ‘All the Ghosts.’ I met him at one of Gwyn’s gigs in New York City, and when the design team was getting ready to do the cover of ‘Sherry & Narcotics’ I wrote him to see if he might have anything we could use. He was incredibly generous and sent us some really cool stuff, including the piece that wound up on the cover. He also happens to be the artist who designed the Beastie Boys ‘License to Ill’ record cover.

Is there anyone who has been a major influence in your inspiration/writing style?

Well, Jean Rhys and Fitzgerald, but also J.P. Donleavy—I loved ‘The Gingerman.’ And Hillary Raphael, who is also my publisher—her books ‘I Love Lord Bhudda’ ‘Backpackers’ and ‘Ximena’ were great. This Brooklyn writer Donari Braxton is amazing. Also everything by Gwendolyn Riley, Helen Walsh. Jardine Libaire’s ‘Here Kitty Kitty’, Justine Levy’s ‘Nothing Serious.’ Brett Easton Ellis, James Frey and Jay McInerney. I just read Frey’s ‘Bright Shiny Morning’, which I thought was extraordinary and was also very interesting to me from a creative standpoint. I read in an interview that with that book, he just set out to write every day with no set plan or outline. I’m kind of lazy when it comes to structure and outlining beforehand, so it was cool to read that.

Sherry & Narcotics takes readers into the mind of Mary. A girl struggling to cope with Love and Addiction. It’s such a delicate subject to write about. Did you find it difficult to write about such issues that is going on in every day life?

Yes and no—most of the time writing ‘Sherry & Narcotics’ was profoundly uncomfortable, and yet it wrote itself. I was inside Mary and it felt horrible, but there was no stopping. I was hostage until the thing was done, which is probably why I wrote it so fast.

Sherry & Narcotics is based in 2006 and we see it go through to 2007 without me spoiling the ending for readers can you tell us what you think Mary would be doing now in 2011?

Well, I’d like to think she’d be sober and healthy and strong, doing a job she loves and perhaps in love…either that or she’d be dead.

There’s no in-between for her—I think she used up all her stumbling-along-reckless lives.

I know your currently working on something new at the minute but can you tell us a little bit about it?

Sure. It’s about an American girl who winds up at a posh all-boys boarding school in England—based on my experience at Clifton College in Bristol when I was 17. (I seem to be choosing all the book genres many people roll their eyes at and groan—‘the biographical drugs and alcohol book’, now ‘the boarding school book’…) But this one is turning out to be quite different from how I envisioned it. It actually has a paranormal element to it, and what I hope will be a pretty shocking twist at the end. Heck, I might even make a teensy bit of money on this one—haha.

For aspiring authors do you have any advice?
Just write. All the time, and read. Take as many workshops as you can, not for what you will learn about how to write, but simply because it will force you to produce and submit stuff—you’ll get used to not just finishing stories and chapters, but also revising them.

Workshops are also great for learning to steel yourself to criticism—taking what’s useful to you, but also standing firm on your vision and telling your story the way you want to tell it—having the confidence in your work to not let the bullshit feedback destroy it. I know how I want things to sound, it’s like I listen to the story in my head—& I say tell it like you hear it.

Thinking on the spot!
Night Owl or Early Bird? Early bird!
Favourite Colour: Green
Book: Voyage in the Dark, Jean Rhys
Film: Oh no! Don’t do this to me—I can’t pick one! I love vintage Tatum O’Neal films, especially ‘International Velvet’ and ‘Little Darlings.’ My favorite quirky romances are this Australian film about two schizophrenics who fall in love, ‘Angel Baby’, and ‘Jesus’ Son’ based on the Denis Johnson book. My favorite epic romances are ‘Breaking the Waves’ and ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being.’ And my favorite French gangster film is ‘Mesrine I & II’. In another life I would like to come back as Monica Bellucci—not so I could look like her, although that wouldn’t suck—but so I could go to bed every night with Vincent Cassel.
Author: Jean Rhys

I want to give a BIG massive thank to Nina for taking the time out and anwering some questions. Sherry & Narcotics is really really amazing I hope readers go buy a cope :) THANK YOU!

Nina-Marie Gardners Official:
Goodreads: (Click Here)
Blog: (Click Here)

Purchase a copy of Sherry & Narcotics here:
Amazon (Paperback)
Amazon (Kindle Edition)


Kerry-Ann xo


  1. Great review. It actually makes me want to read it :)

  2. great review :) i read this book it was brilliant so many up's and down's . wish there was a follow on of this girls life . good book and a good read would advise any1 to read it ... :)