January, 2009


Lisa Heidke's debut novel Lucy Springer Gets Even is out this month. She lives in Sydney with her husband and three children.

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  1. Why did you decide to write a novel?

    Writing has been part of my professional life for years and I always dreamt that one day I'd write a novel. But it wasn't until a few years ago that I seriously challenged myself to do something about it. In fact, I was shamed into it after an alcohol-fuelled New Year's Eve party where friends had been discussing the merits of a newly published novel. "I could write that," I blurted to anyone who'd listen. The next morning my husband poked me in the ribs, force fed me two Nurofen+ and pointed me in the direction of the computer.

  2. What's the most important lesson you have learnt along the path to publication?

    Persistence! You have to keep writing. Despite setbacks you may suffer - deleting hundreds of words at the foolish press of a button, panic attacks in the middle of the night that you're wasting your time - you have to have a determined belief in your ability. Make sure you keep your long-term objectives in mind. If you're going to take every rejection personally, your dream of becoming a published writer will quickly end in tears.

  3. Where did the idea of Lucy Springer spring from?

    I wanted to write a light-hearted story in diary form about a woman whose husband leaves her on day one. I thought it would be interesting to look at a woman in her mid-30s with a couple of kids who thinks her life is moving along happily and rip it to shreds - to plot her journey from the depths of despair and bewilderment on day one to her getting her life together by day sixty-five. After charting the story, I realised I was missing a few crucial elements. Lucy needed a career and I'm fascinated by the reality TV phenomenon so I decided to make her an actress; I was going through a renovation at the time so thought that would add realistic mayhem; and as for Lucy's epiphany, that fell into place with the advent of the Bali bombings.

  4. How similar are you to Lucy?

    I have children and have lived through a couple of renovations ... and I was in Bali during the 2005 bombings. And I must admit I did slice my hand open while trying to separate frozen bread with a knife. But I think that's where the similarities end. I'm not a redhead and I'm not an actress. To the best of my knowledge my husband has not had an affair with a woman called Alana but he does own a red Malibu surfboard!

  5. So you were in Bali during the 2005 terrorist attacks?

    Yes, we'd just arrived in Bali (husband, three kids, mother and in-laws - a family reunion of sorts) when the 2005 bombings occurred. We were eating at a restaurant in Kuta, just around the corner from the restaurant that was bombed. Our relatives in Australia did go into panic mode but we decided to stay for the duration. My husband and I have holidayed in Bali many times. It's a beautiful island and the Balinese are peaceful, happy people.

  6. And have your renovations been like Lisa's renovation hell?

    Not to that extent! My renovations have gone a lot more smoothly but tradesmen did skive off from time to time causing me to throw fits every so often. The builders probably thought I was a peculiar woman who sat at her computer all day mumbling to herself, only emerging to bark at them when things weren't going so well. At no stage was I ever tempted to buy a $3000 toilet.

  7. What authors and characters have inspired you?

    I mostly read chick lit. I think Marian Keyes is brilliant. She's funny and incredibly talented and I admire her enormously. Her writing always seems so effortless even when her characters are dealing with serious issues like alcoholism and divorce. I also read Jane Green, Cecelia Ahern, Sophie Kinsella, etc but will buy anything when the back cover blurb appeals to me. I'm always on the lookout for new authors. Re characters, the ones that inspire me are usually the ones I am reading at the time - the heroine triumphing over diversity. I get in their heads and am with them on their journey all the way. Bridget Jones would have to be a stand-out. Often I'll reread the classics. I love Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. But mostly when I want a break from my usual genre, I'll pick up one of my son's books to read. I'm heavily into the Cherub series, by Robert Muchamore. I'm currently reading Man Vs Beast. It's about teenage spies and is a good read on its own, plus I like to show interest in what my 13-year-old son is reading.

  8. How important do you think it is for Australian women to be able to read about an Australian character?

    I think it is important because the reader instantly recognises local cultural references. As a writer, it allows you a comfortable familiarity with your audience. You don't have to explain Australianisms that are inevitably peppered throughout the story, without conscious consideration. For example, a character might say that she's "as likely to fall in love as snow falling in Darwin". Readers might not have been to Darwin but they'll know it's at the top end and blazing hot. When I'm reading about an Australian character, it's immediately easy to slip into that character's world. Having said that, I love reading about Marian Keyes' Irish characters, Jane Fallon's English characters, and Candace Bushnell's American characters. It's great to transport yourself to another country and another person's life and step into their shoes. The everyday issues women face are global and when characters are believable and well written, they're easy to relate to regardless of nationality.

  9. What did it feel like to finally hold a copy of your novel in your hands?

    It was thrilling, exciting and I felt very happy and proud!

  10. Any plans for another book?

    Yes. My second manuscript is due at Allen & Unwin in April. It's about Kate Cavendish, a married mother who rediscovers her passion for life amidst dealing with a distant husband, a rebellious 13-year-old daughter, a heavily pregnant and neurotic sister and parents who reunite after 20 years apart. Kate has a lot to deal with and her life quickly spirals out of control. I'm having a lot of fun writing her story.

  11. What reality TV show would you most like to be on?

    I'd love to say Survivor because I watch it and think it's brilliant but I know I'd be voted off the island rather quickly ... I don't like creepy, crawly creatures. I'd love to go on Australian Idol but I'm too old and can't sing so that would be rather humiliating. So, it's not strictly a reality TV show, more a game show, but I'd love to be on Don't Forget the Lyrics - I'm pretty good at remembering the words to songs and jingles - but only if I was guaranteed not to completely disgrace myself.

  12. This one is out of the mouth of your character Dom - If you were the eighth dwarf, what would your name be?

    I'd love to have a witty reply for this one but I don't. How about TIDY? Boring but true. And I can tell you if I was a dwarf I would still wear heels!

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