Laura Greaves, author of The Ex-Factor, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

by |March 18, 2015

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Laura Greaves

author of The Ex-Factor

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 hail from Adelaide (or Radelaide, as only native South Aussies are allowed to call it). I lived there until I was 21, and then I did what so many young Australians do and went to London for a year – only I accidentally stayed for five. I came back to Australia in 2007, settling in Sydney and dragging my English husband along for the ride.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

Um, writer, writer and writer. I know – boring, right?! I announced my intention to be a writer at the ripe old age of seven. At that age I was focused on becoming a journalist. I don’t think I knew what journalists actually did at that point, but my grade two teacher, Mrs Edwards, had explained that they got money for writing stories, and that sounded pretty fantastic to an unabashed book nerd like me. I’ve never considered any career besides writing (except for a very brief period when I was 16 and inexplicably decided I wanted to be an occupational therapist).

By the age of 18 I actually was a journalist: I landed a cadetship with Adelaide’s daily newspaper, The Advertiser, just a few weeks after my seventeenth birthday and spent nearly five years there having all kinds of adventures.

At 30 I’d ‘gone solo’, leaving the world of glossy mags to strike out on my own as a freelance journo, which I’m still doing and loving today. But by 30 I was also pretty antsy to add ‘published novelist’ to my CV. I had to wait til I was 32 for that!

Laura Greaves_Colour

Author: Laura Greaves

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

I remember feeling quite certain at 18 that I would be a newspaper journalist forever. I was going to expose corruption and report from war zones and win Walkley Awards and one day become an editor. Instead I spent most of my time covering fatal car crashes and house fires, working the midnight shift for 18 months straight and bringing down precisely zero crooked bigwigs. (I did win an award, though – National Young Journalist of the Year in 2001. That was pretty cool.) I adored working in papers – even now, when a big event occurs, a little part of me longs to be in a newsroom – but honestly, I don’t have the temperament for it. Most of the good news journos I know enjoy arguing with people – confrontation is genuinely fun for them. The opposite is true for me! Which is perhaps why the heroines of both of my published novels are pretty feisty – they say and do things I’d never have the nerve to try!

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?

Ooh, great question! Well, I can say without a doubt that I would not be a writer if LM Montgomery hadn’t written Anne of Green Gables in 1908. I can’t properly describe how much I love this book and what it means to me. I was fortunate enough to visit the real Green Gables on Canada’s Prince Edward Island a couple of years ago, and I sobbed buckets. Like, proper ugly crying. There may in fact be a small part of me that believes I am Anne Shirley.

Okay, a large part. A very large part.

Music has a big influence on my writing, too. I always make playlists that capture the mood of the story I’m working on. For example, when writing The Ex-Factor, which is all about drama and longing and grand romantic gestures, I listened to a lot of 1980s power ballads – the kinds of songs that play over the last scenes of a John Hughes movie!

More recently, a Broadway play called Grace had a big impact on me. Well, not the play itself, but one of the actors in it – Michael Shannon. (You may know him as Agent Nelson Van Alden in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire, or as General Zod in the latest Superman reboot.) His performance was just so incredible, and I got to wondering whether he knew how good he was. I concluded that he must have an inherent belief in his own talent, or he wouldn’t have pursued acting as a career. It was a real Oprah-style ‘Aha!’ moment for me, because I’d been feeling increasingly frustrated with my writing and I suddenly realised that I wasn’t getting anywhere with it because I didn’t really believe I ever could. I made a decision right there that I had to properly prioritise my writing and redouble my efforts to get published. My first novel, Be My Baby, was picked up by Penguin less than a year later. So thanks, Michael Shannon!

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

I do actually dabble in other formats, too. I have a Graduate Diploma in Screenwriting from the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, and had a TV pilot script nominated for the Australian Writers’ Guild’s Monte Miller Award for best unproduced screenplay. But I enjoy writing novels because they give me more time and freedom to unravel a story and delve into the real nitty gritty of what makes people tick.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

The Ex-Factor, published by Penguin on March 17, is a romantic comedy set partly in Sydney and partly in La-La-Land (better known as Hollywood!)

Talented, gorgeous and hopelessly in love, American movie star Mitchell Pyke and Brazilian supermodel Vida Torres were Hollywood’s most talked-about couple. They seemed destined for ‘happily ever after’ – until Vida left Mitchell for his best friend, and Mitchell publicly vowed he would never love again.

Sydney dog trainer Kitty Hayden has never even heard of Mitchell Pyke. Still reeling from the loss of her mother, Kitty is too busy cleaning up the various messes made by her indolent younger sister, Frankie, and trying to find a girlfriend for her terminally single best friend, Adam, to keep up with celebrity gossip.

When her work takes Kitty to Mitchell’s movie set, their worlds spectacularly collide. The chemistry between them is undeniable – and it’s not long before Kitty is turning her life upside down to be with her leading man.

But as Kitty quickly discovers, when someone as famous as Mitchell Pyke tells the world he’ll never love again, the world listens. And the vindictive Vida is never far away. With constant reminders that she’s merely a consolation prize, how can Kitty compete with such a tenacious adversary – especially when she starts to suspect that Mitchell isn’t over Vida after all?

How does a regular Aussie girl win the heart of the most famous man on the planet in the unforgiving glare of the spotlight?

Grab a copy of Laura’s new book The Ex-Factor here

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

I hope people are moved. I hope they laugh. I hope they cry. I hope they like the sexy bits.

And if I may defend my often-maligned genre for a moment, I hope people read my books and realise that romantic comedy (or ‘chick lit’, as some insist on calling it) isn’t necessarily about ditsy, shopping-obsessed girls who can’t function without a man. It’s about strong, imperfect women who are determined to live life on their terms – just like actual women.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

Tina Fey is my writing spirit animal. Everything she does is amazing. I wish I were even slightly as hilarious and brilliant and badass as her. Sigh.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

My chief goal at this point is to be able to write books full time. I’m quite sure many people imagine that published authors ride their ponies in the morning and quaff G&Ts all afternoon, and every now and then jot down a brilliant sentence or two. The reality is very different (well, aside from the G&T-quaffing). Freelance journalism still pays my bills, which is handy as I love it, but I’d really, really love it if I could focus solely on the books.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

This may sound silly, but you have to write. Writing my first novel, Be My Baby, took 11 years. All that time I was thinking ‘I’m writing a novel’, but the actual writing was sporadic to say the least. Conversely, writing The Ex-Factor took six months – and I had a baby in the middle of it. Once I finally realised that the only way to get published is to write a good book, I started writing every moment I could. If you want it badly enough, that’s what you have to do – no excuses!

Laura, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of The Ex-Factor here


The Ex-Factor

by Laura Greaves

Talented, gorgeous and hopelessly in love, American movie star Mitchell Pyke and Brazilian supermodel Vida Torres were Hollywood’s most talked-about couple. They seemed destined for ‘happily ever after’ – until Vida left Mitchell for his best friend, and Mitchell publicly vowed he would never love again.

Sydney dog trainer Kitty Hayden has never even heard of Mitchell Pyke. Still reeling from the loss of her mother, Kitty is too busy cleaning up the various messes made by her indolent younger sister, Frankie, and trying to find a girlfriend for her terminally single best friend, Adam, to keep up with celebrity gossip.

When her work takes Kitty to Mitchell’s movie set, their worlds spectacularly collide. The chemistry between them is undeniable – and it’s not long before Kitty is turning her life upside down to be with her leading man. But as Kitty quickly discovers, when someone as famous as Mitchell Pyke tells the world he’ll never love again, the world listens. And the vindictive Vida is never far away. With constant reminders that she’s merely a consolation prize, how can Kitty compete with such a tenacious adversary – especially when she starts to suspect that Mitchell isn’t over Vida after all?

About the Author

Born and raised in Adelaide, South Australia, Laura announced her intention to be a writer at the age of seven, largely because of her dual obsessions with Anne of Green Gables and Murder, She Wrote. She worked as a book publicist and editor of a women’s magazine before striking out as a freelance journalist in 2009. As well as continuing to write for many of Australia’s best-known magazines, Laura now spends her time matchmaking feisty fictional women with irresistibly sexy leading men. Laura lives on Sydney’s Northern Beaches with her family, as well as two incorrigible (but seriously cute) dogs.

 Grab a copy of The Ex-Factor here

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