author of The Wardrobe Girl
Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
I was born in Blayney, a small country town near Bathurst in NSW. But I grew up in Sydney, after a few years in Newcastle. I attended an all girls’ school on Sydney’s North Shore and am still haunted by the trauma of bottle green socks and Blackwatch tartan. Eventually, I escaped to Sydney University.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
At the age of 12, I had grand schemes of being an architect, until someone mentioned some skill in maths was required. By 18, the idea of being Madonna a la Desperately Seeking Susan, was most appealing. My first timid scratchings of pen across blank pages started when I was about 30 and the idea that one day I could be a writer began to take hold.
At 18, when I wasn’t singing ‘Get Into The Groove’, I was convinced the world would end in a nuclear winter after the USSR sent missiles slamming into Pine Gap.
4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?
It’s so hard to narrow this down to 3 works of art, but this is my pick, Olympia by Edouard Manet; The Weeping Song by Nick Cave and Swan Lake by Graham Murphy for The Australian Ballet.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
As my 7 year old daughter is a better artist than me and my pirouettes aren’t what they used to be, I turned to writing. I love the freedom a novel allows to explore the inner musings of the characters, to write descriptively and discover the world created by your imagination.
The Wardrobe Girl follows the story of Tess Appleby, the new standby assistant on long-running Australian soap – Pretty Beach Rescue. It’s not quite the BBC, where until recently Tess has been working, but it should be an uncomplicated return to Sydney life after 8 years in London and a humiliating end to a relationship.
But, just like a soap opera plot, Tess’s life is soon anything but uncomplicated when the cast of characters, including the soap’s leading man, her retired actress mother and aspiring actress sister, the paparazzi, even her pet dog, Eric, all seem to conspire to create chaos.
Tess isn’t phased, not until the man who broke her heart 8 years ago arrives at Pretty Beach Rescue as a new Director. The Wardrobe Girl is loosely based on my experience working in the Australian TV industry, including 5 years on Home and Away.
Grab a copy of The Wardrobe Girl here
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
I hope people gain insights into the behind –the-scenes workings of a TV show, such as Home and Away. I also hope they are entertained and take pleasure in a world not destroyed by a nuclear winter.
8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?
Hilary Mantel for her sheer brilliance. Marion Keyes for extraordinary storytelling ability. Richard Flanagan’s beautiful prose. Jane Austen’s wit, wisdom and ability to capture the ‘universal truth’.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
My most ambitious goal now is to write book 3, which requires me to first finish book 2! I have a children’s book, which is well underway and hankering to attempt a screenplay/TV mini-series.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
I still consider myself an aspiring writer and the advice I remind myself of most often is – there is no ‘secret template’ to writing a book. The only way to write is to write. Trust your gut instincts, be careful of whose feedback you seek and rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.
Jennifer, thank you for playing.