Monthly Archives: February 2011

Sunday Mail Column for Sunday 27 February 2011: the one about the movie

It is a well-known truth that many first novels are deeply autobiographical. Harper Lee drew inspiration from her own Alabama childhood when she penned To Kill A Mockingbird, basing Atticus Finch on her real-life attorney father and many of the other characters on herself, her friends and family. Bryce Courtenay’s The Power of One draws heavily on Courtenay’s very real experience as a small child in a South African orphanage. Closer to home, Nick Earls’ own coming of age story, After January, was inspired by Earls’ own teenage summer vacations at Caloundra. Dave Eggers. David Malouf. Lily Brett. Hunter S Thompson. Jack Kerouac. Frank McCourt. Khaled Hosseini, Sylvia Plath, Maya Angelou, John Birmingham. Andrew McGahan.  They’ve all – to varying degrees – followed the old adage, “write what you know”.

While my first novel hardly belongs in such esteemed company, the fact is I’m no different. My first novel, The Girl Most Likely, is the story of Rachel Hill, a travel writer who goes to Vegas and marries her American boyfriend in secret only to wind up broke, unemployed, working as a nanny and living back in her childhood bedroom at her parents’ house in Kenmore. By complete coincidence I was a travel writer who secretly married her American boyfriend in Las Vegas only to wind up broke, unemployed, working as a nanny and living back in my childhood bedroom at my parents’ house in Chapel Hill. It is fiction after all.

But if you think it’s a little weird to write about your real life in a novel, imagine what a freak-out it is when someone wants to turn that semi-autobiographical novel into a movie. Imagine the head spin when names like Isla Fisher and Jessica Marais are being bandied about to play the lead. The lead who is based on you.  Could Jessica Marais really play a character based on me?  She’s tiny. I look like I ate Jessica Marais.  Perhaps she could play my left thigh.

Anyway.  The good news is that screenwriter and producer Ken Wallace is keen to have fans of the book involved in the production.  What does that mean? It means if you want to follow the project, have your voice heard or be considered for casting, join the Facebook page for updates and register your interest at

Now for the bad news (I’m hiding under the desk while I type this bit).  At this stage, the film may not be shot in Brisbane.

“Of course we’d love to film in Brisbane but financing dictates many of our locational decisions so we have to keep an open mind. Could Rachel be a Sydney-sider? I don’t know. Would that be bad thing?” Ken says to me over email.

ARE YOU MAD? I scream back at the computer screen.  This could be Praise all over again.

If you’d like to see the movie shot in Brisbane, do me a favour and go online. Tell Ken what you think.

The Way We Live, Sunday 20 February 2011

I did something last week when you weren’t looking. I moved to Adelaide.

I know. I KNOW.  One minute I was here and the next minute when you were trying to work out if Egypt’s deposed President Mubarak and the Count from Sesame Street had ever been seen in the same room together – I was gone.  Packed up and moved to the City of Churches for a twelve month sojourn.

You’ll be partly impressed, partly horrified to know that we drove. I KNOW.  Try a three-day drive across the country with a toddler. A three-day drive across the country with a toddler in a car that looked like the over-loaded one in the opening credits of The Beverly Hillbillies. But as we drove through Gunnedah and Tamworth and Warren  and Broken Hill, I began to feel lighter. And as we crossed the border from NSW into South Australia, I literally felt a weight lift off my shoulders. Not because I don’t adore Queensland – I do. But because sometimes, we all need some time out. A change of scenery. Some breathing space.

This move to Adelaide has been an interesting lesson for me. When Brad was offered the position back in July 2010, I didn’t want to go. Desperately didn’t want to go. Nothing against Adelaide (I’d only ever done fleeting visits, so I barely knew the place).  Nope, instead I was hoping to live in the same house for more than twelve months.  What a kick that would be!  Back in July I thought spending 2011 in Adelaide would kill me.  Seven months on and I think it’s the best thing that could have happened.  This temporary move interstate has come at exactly the right time for us.

And you know what? Its taught me something.  So often we spend huge amounts of energy trying to change, force, manipulate situations.  We think we know best. What we need.  What’s right for us.  We hold on to stale situations and relationships and jobs so tightly out of fear or desperation that we leave no room, not even the smallest gap, for anything else to come in.  And usually it’s all because we’re afraid of change.

But sometimes it pays to give up the wheel and just see where life takes you. Sometimes change is the best thing that can happen.  Scary? Sure. But change always is.

Rest assured we’ll only be gone for twelve months and when we do return to Brisbane, it’ll be for good. But for now, I’m going to make the most of this year in Adelaide. It’s a beautiful city. The food is mouth-watering.  The traffic is — well it sucks just as much as Brisbane during peak-hour. But I’m prepared to overlook that since there’s the Haigh’s Chocolate Factory here.

This year I’m stepping out of my comfort zone. Thankfully for me it’s in a place famous for its wineries and chocolate!


The Way We Live for Sunday 13 February 2011

I have something to tell you.  Here goes: I am a republican with a monarchist trying to get out.  I can’t help it. I’m totally fascinated by the Royal Family. Or that should be Royal Families – plural. If you’ve got a crown on your head, you had me at hello (your Highness).  How bad is my obsession? I’ve marked William and Kate’s wedding in my diary so as to ensure I don’t make any plans for that night. And I’ll probably watch the wedding with my girlfriends eating Thai food on the couch while discussing in depth whether or not we think the marriage will last.  Because, you know, we’d have a clue. Obviously.  Then there’s the fact I’ve actually logged on to the Danish Royal Family’s website more than once.  And last week I hit a new low. I started following Clarence House on Twitter.

I feel so dirty.

My father think it’s hilarious (He would. He’s English). Brad however appears to be mildly horrified. “Mildly” being code for off-the-charts.  He doesn’t get it.  Actually, I’m not sure I get it.  Because the fact is I’m all for Australia being a republic. In a big way. And I’ve been pro-republic for years.  (Did you hear that sound? It was the sound of lots of monarchists getting out their Lady Diana Souvenir Wedding Stationary to write me an angry letter).

So there you have it. I’m one hundred percent behind the idea of Australia becoming a republic while at the same time hiding a royalty-porn addiction. So I believe one thing but am secretly doing another. I’m the Paris Hilton of Republicanism. (Too obscure? In 2008 Hilton was part of the Rock The Vote campaign to convince young people to vote. Except, um, Hilton herself doesn’t vote).

I’d like to point out that my royalty obsession was self-motivated. My mother could care less about them.  But not me. I created my own Lady Di scrapbook when I was about eight. When Princess Diana visited Brisbane back in 1983, I lobbied my local member to make it a public holiday so that I could have the day off school to go into the city to see her. (Strangely, my local member wasn’t into this idea. Go figure.)

Even my Barbies paid the price for my obsession. I decided “Golden Dream Barbie” should have the “Shy Di” hairstyle. Needless to say I grabbed my mother’s kitchen scissors and hacked her hair off in a manner akin to Edward Scissorhands after he’d had a few beers.  The result? She was less Princess Diana Barbie and more “Girl Interrupted Barbie” by the end of it.

So how did my parents cope with their daughters Princess Di obsession? By focusing dinner table conversation on an individuals’ contribution to the community.  By discussing the warts and all aspects of all walks of life. And – truth be told – by hiding the kitchen scissors.


First Sunday Club for February 2011: Dress For Success

Cue the smoke machine and the wind chimes sound effect; we’re about to go back in time. Back to 1995.  Toy Story was the movie everyone was talking about.  Microsoft launched Windows 95 (go figure).  Paul Keating was Prime Minister.  And I experienced the most nerve-wracking job interview of my life. I’d applied to be a publicist for Channel Nine in Sydney. I was stupidly underqualified for the job and yet like all good twenty-one year olds had the bravado of Justin Bieber. Well, Justin Bieber with a perm.  Somehow my youthful enthusiasm snagged me an interview and I was told the station would fly me down to Sydney for the day to meet the National Publicity Director. Suddenly my confidence evaporated faster than you can say, “My best outfit is from Splendiferous”.  I immediately went out and spent all my money on a ridiculously ugly leather briefcase. I thought it made me look like Amanda from Melrose Place. Because that’s how you want to look in a job interview, obviously.  Like the morally questionable vixen who runs D & D Advertising.

Why am I telling you all this? Probably because I think it demonstrates the role that clothes play in our self-confidence. Particularly when it comes to job interviews.

Recently I found out about a not-for-profit Brisbane organisation called Dress For Success.  They provide a free, specialised dressing, grooming and interview skills program for long-term unemployed women. The Dress for Success mission is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and life.

“Having the right clothes makes a huge difference for our clients,” says Executive Director Lana Gishkariany.  “Some women have never worked before, they’ve never owned work clothes. So they arrive nervous with low self-esteem. Through our one-on-one service, our boutique volunteers make them feel welcome while treating them with respect and dignity. When we get a complete outfit together for our clients, their confidence and self esteem is instantly transformed.”

It’s the first Sunday in February so for this month’s First Sunday Club I’m hoping you’ll go through your wardrobe to see if you have any work clothes you can donate. If we’ve learnt anything from the recent flood crisis in Queensland, it’s that the smallest acts of kindness can make an enormous difference.

Dress For Success welcomes all good quality secondhand work clothing including work-appropriate shoes, handbags and unused lipsticks for women of all ages. If you’re one of the thousands of women who lost everything in the floods, Dress For Success are currently offering a free work outfit for flood-affected women. And if you have spare time on your hands, Dress For Success is always looking for mentors for their clients who have just returned to (or started in) the workforce

For more information call 07 3216 1969 or go to to make an appointment.