June 2011


Becky Wicks is the author of memoir Burqalicious: The Dubai Diaries. She studied media production and left England for New York in 2001 at age 21. She returned to London three years later where she worked for a travel and entertainment dot com which led to her stint in Dubai. (Interview by Paula Phillips)

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  1. 1. Tell us about your book Burqalicious?

    Well, it’s about my time living in Dubai, which was a bit mental really! I went from being a regular 20-something in London to living a life that was equal parts luxury and absolute insanity. It’s about the jobs I had, the love affair I found myself involved in, and just the madness that ensued from living in an up-and-coming city that was literally being built around me!

  2. 2. You talked about how your friend wanted to go overseas and you talked her out of it, what changed your mind?

    I was just getting a bit bored of London at the time I think. I’d been in my job for over two years and wanted to do something different. One day I thought “Dubai!” I’m still not sure why but a month later I was there.

  3. 3. What was the inspiration behind wanting to tell the world about your travels?

    I started a blog but it was shut down, so I started writing Facebook notes about my time in Dubai and all the mad things that were happening to me. I was getting a lot of comments and feedback from my friends, all wanting to know more about what it was like, so that kind of encouraged me to carry on. I posted so many photos and over 600 notes! At the end of my time there I had so much stuff, I just thought I should try and do something else with it.

  4. 4. What was it like being a celebrity editor in Dubai?

    Ah, well you’ll have to read the book, haha! I’m not sure it’s any different to being a celebrity editor anywhere really, except you can’t mention sex or drugs or drink… or anything else that makes writing about celebs fun. It’s more challenging that way, I suppose! I wrote a lot about the events and party scene in Dubai too – they have their own set of celebs out there, of course. I got to go to a lot of launch parties, there was something different opening every day, for a while.

  5. 5. My favourite part was when you went to the water park with the different outfits. How did you find it compared to what you were used to in London?

    You can do a lot of fun stuff in Dubai that you’d never experience anywhere else. In London I’d never finish work and head to ladies night at a water park, or head snowboarding on a man-made ski slope in a shopping mall! Living a lifestyle like that in Dubai is easy because the whole place is built for extravagance! I adapted pretty easily… as you can imagine!

  6. 6. What are you working on now?

    I’m working on another book but it’s fiction. It’s harder because I don’t have as much time now as I used to … got to work to pay the bills. I realise I really didn’t do that much work in Dubai… (ssssh!)

  7. 7. What is your favourite part of the book?

    I think living with the Iranian guy. He was hilarious. The fleethorse still cracks me up. You can see the videos of it online if you Google search. What a guy. He made our first few months in Dubai totally hilarious - we just didn’t appreciate it at the time.

  8. 8. Were there any scenes that were cut in the editing process you wish had made it into the book?

    Yes, loads. I had to cut 125,000 words down to 95,000 before it was published! I have put some of the extras on my blog for people to read if they like. There are more photos there, too. And a few videos too I think.

  9. 9. Can you give us one fun fact we might not know about Burqalicious? Something about the story itself or the writing process?

    Hmmmmmm…. Well Stacey and Ewan, who were both with me in Dubai and are in the book, are both now here in Sydney with me, too. They encouraged me throughout the editing process when I was holed up in coffee shops, without a job. We’re kind of bound together forever I think, by our experiences out in Dubai. It’s like a club or something!

  10. 10. How did you get into writing? Did you always want to become a writer?

    I don’t think you really ever choose to be a writer, I think the writing chooses you, if that makes sense. I’ve just always done it, whether it’s been songs or stories or whatever. I write all day, even tweets and comments on Facebook, it’s all writing. It’s all written communication. It makes me happy. No other job ever has or does, which is how I know it’s what I want to do for the rest of my life.

  11. 11. What has been your best and worst career moves?

    Oooooh, best, moving to Dubai! The celeb editor job was fun but the ad agency gave me a few more strings to my bow. The worst – potting coleslaw in a cold foods factory. Or maybe the breakfast shift at McDonalds. Both shit. Both character-building! Everything is character-building in the end, isn’t it?

  12. 12. What are you reading now?

    I’m reading A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness – loving it so far! I love my witchy things, and I’m a huge fan of Twilight, but don’t tell anyone. I’m 31 now… haha!

  13. 13. Which author has inspired you most?

    I’d have to say Enid Blyton. She inspired me no end growing up and my mum always says she’s why I started writing. I spent hours reading things like The Wishing Chair and The Magic Faraway Tree. She had such an incredible imagination. I got totally lost in her worlds.

  14. 14. What advice would you give aspiring authors?

    I’d have to say just keep writing. People can tell when writing comes from your heart, too, so write about things that move you and things you find interesting. Sometimes it’s hard and sometimes you don’t want to and sometimes you’d rather do anything than write… I’ve even done ironing to avoid getting stuck into something that’s been challenging me, and I hate ironing. But you have to be committed and you can never give up.

  15. 15. What was your best and worst moments living in Dubai?

    I had so many good times in Dubai. I think one of the best was meeting a man I thought I could spend the rest of my life with – we had some amazing adventures and I’d never been swept away like that by anyone before. For a while I thought I had everything. The worst part, I guess, was learning that to get the things you want sometimes, other people get hurt and you have to face the consequences. I think the lies and secrecy drove a wall between us that in the end neither of us could get past. That I think was the worst thing to face. But ultimately, I suppose you could say I learnt a lesson from Dubai and what happened to me there and in the end, I’m a stronger person because of it.

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