The Booktopia Book Guru asks
author of Confessions of a Once Fashionable Mum
Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
Here, there and everywhere! I was born on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, but moved to Hong Kong with my family when I was five and lived there until 18. I came back to Australia for university, and moved to London a few weeks after graduating. I lived there for 12 crazy, glamorous, fun-filled years, working in PR and magazines, before returning to Sydney with my family 10 years ago.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
At 12, I had dreams of a being an actress, but one disastrous and very embarrassing audition in front of my entire year at school put an end to that. At 18, I had visions of becoming a very serious political journalist, reporting for a Hong Kong newspaper on what was happening across the border in China. I still have no idea why. At 30 I was quite partial to the idea of becoming an editor of a magazine. But always, always, in the back of my mind was the dream of writing fiction. I just never really believed it was possible.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
That in order to pursue the things you really want, everything in your life has to be just so. But life doesn’t work like that; if you’re waiting for all your stars to line up perfectly, you’ll be waiting forever. I’ve found that it’s better – and braver – to just jump right in and get the ball rolling, whether you’re ready or not. Fake it till you make it!
4. What were three works of art – book, painting, piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?
As a child, anything by Enid Blyton. Her stories swept me away, and they still do today when I read them to my kids. The song Don’t You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds. I’m a true child of the 80s, and whenever I hear that song on the radio my mind starts bristling with ideas – always romantic in a tragically teenage kind of way. The beautiful aria in that scene in A Room With A View where George kisses Lucy. I’m not sure whether it was the music or the poppies, but it stayed with me for years.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
I’m not really sure I ever really had a choice! Despite all the twists and turns I took in my career (a used car parts auctioneer in a grotty part of east London at one point) the idea of writing was always there in the background, a steady hum I couldn’t switch off.
6. Please tell us about your latest novel…
Confessions Of A Once Fashionable Mum follows new mum Ally Bloom, a dedicated fashionista with a very clear vision of the yummy mummy she’s meant to be – a glamorous Angelina Jolie-type, wafting along red carpets, with her latest accessory, baby Coco, tucked up under her wing. Then reality hits – her marriage is in crisis, her mother-in-law-turns up unannounced for an open-ended stay, the dishwasher won’t stop making that weird banging sound, and she’s pushed aside at work by a 22-year old airhead. Ally suddenly finds herself thrust into her own version of hell – life on the suburban SAHM circuit. Here, she begins to ask life’s bigger questions on motherhood, identity, friendship and whether it’s socially acceptable to leave the house in Havaianas after 7pm.
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
I would love to think that after getting through one of those nightmarish days with the kids, where every single thing has gone wrong, they can curl up with Confessions and it puts a smile on their face, maybe even makes them laugh. See? There’s a little bit of paying it forward, right there.
8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?
I tend to develop crushes on whoever I’m reading at the time. Most recently it’s been Hannah Kent, Elizabeth Gilbert and Rainbow Rowell. I’ve just finished ‘Dietland’ by Sarai Walker – a sort of gutsy feminist manifesto that sends an arrow straight at the heart of the diet industry. I think I’m in love.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
To be able to support myself and my family doing what I love.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
We’ve all done it – picked up a book and been blown away by the scale of the story, the beauty of the prose. It’s enough to make you want to give up on the idea of writing before you’ve even begun. But I can’t imagine that anyone’s work resembles the finished product in its early stages. To me, writing a book is a bit like making one of those multi-layered French desserts; it’s a long and time-consuming process of building from the ground up, layer by layer. So my advice is, don’t waste precious time trying to perfect that opening paragraph. Get the bones of your story down – as fast as your fingers can type them – before you even think about trying to turn it into a masterpiece.
Georgia, thank you for playing.
by Georgia Madden
Successful hubbie? Tick. Facebook-worthy baby? Tick. Bikini-body six weeks after giving birth? Um . . . not so much.
Fashion PR exec Ally Bloom got her happy ending. Okay, her marriage might be showing the odd crack, her battleaxe mother-in-law might have come to stay, and she might not be the yummy mummy she’d imagined, but it’s nothing a decent night’s sleep and a firm commitment to a no-carb diet won’t fix.
But when Ally returns to work and finds she’ll be reporting to a 22-year-old airhead, she decides to turn her back on life as a professional fashionista and embrace her inner earth mama instead. So it’s out with the Louboutins and champagne and in with the sensible flats and coffee mornings with the Mummy Mafia.
From attending her first grown-up dinner party only to discover that placenta is top of the menu to controlling her monster crush on local playgroup hottie Cameron, Ally must find her feet in the brave new world of the stay-at-home mum.
About the Author
Georgia Madden began her career in journalism at Homes & Gardens magazine in London, before returning to Sydney with her young family to work as a freelance writer. She writes for House & Garden, Inside Out and Home Beautiful, as well as a number of interiors websites. She lives in Sydney with her family. Confessions Of A Once Fashionable Mum is her first novel.