May 2012


Lawyer Kate Metz released her debut novel Stiletto Safari earlier this year. She has travelled to Africa several times, including working as a wildlife volunteer in Namibia. She lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her family. (interview by Leanne Francis)

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  1. 1. You have worked as a wildlife volunteer in Africa, you are a lawyer and you have been attacked by a wild animal - is the book autobiographical?

    Stiletto Safari isn’t really autobiographical - Zara’s life is far more glamorous (and chaotic) than my life! Having said that, parts of the book loosely draw on some experiences I had while a wildlife volunteer in Namibia. Like Zara, I went to Namibia pretty unprepared and was thrown in the deep end right from day one when I had to help sedate and move an adult-sized cheetah. By day three I’d had a run-in with a ‘playful’ leopard which left me and my clothes a bit worse for wear. Some of the other volunteers thought my ripped attire was fashion forward and wanted to know where they could buy the same tee! I also taught briefly in a bush school and stayed at a nearby lodge so the descriptions of the school and the lodges in Stiletto Safari are based on places I’ve visited.

  2. 2. What made you consider writing a book?

    I’ve always loved writing and I also keep a crazy ‘to do’ list. Each year I write down some things I’d like to do in the year and two years ago my list happened to consist of volunteering abroad, writing a book and running a half marathon. Once something is on my list I have to do it! Writing for fun was a really nice change from law which can at times be pretty dry.

  3. 3. How long did it take to write Stiletto Safari?

    The book took about 15 months off and on to write. In 2011, we adopted a gorgeous little boy, Charlie, from Korea and so I wrote a lot of the book while I was on maternity leave. Fortunately, Charlie is a pretty good sleeper!

  4. 4. You've self-published the book - what made you choose to go it alone without the support of a publisher?

    As my husband would attest I’m a pretty impatient person and once I decided to write a book I wanted to do it within a set timeframe. I’d heard horror stories about publishers taking a long time to review manuscripts etc so I thought I’d self-publish instead. There are definitely pros and cons associated with self-publishing. While you obviously retain a lot of control as an author over the content, look and timing of your book, the marketing side of things can be quite hard and having the support of a publisher would definitely be useful.

  5. 5. Can you tell us about your journey to publication?

    My journey was a little unorthodox and I’m a bit embarrassed to say not very well researched. Once I’d almost finished writing Stiletto Safari I googled ‘self publishing’ and came across Createspace which is the self-publishing arm of Amazon. I liked the fact that they offered a cover design and editing service. After four failed cover attempts I gave up on Createspace for the cover design and instead used Design Crowd. Design Crowd is a cool site where you write a brief and artists from around the world enter design ideas. It’s like running your own design competition and was a really fun process. While I didn’t end up using Createspace for the cover they were terrific on the editing. My editor provided some really useful feedback that definitely improved my book.

  6. 6. Like Zara, you seem to be philanthropic by donating some of the proceeds of the book to a children's home in Korea and to an African wildlife conservation. Have you been on a similar journey of self-realisation and of what is important, like the character in your book?

    I think it’s really important to make a difference where you can even if it’s only in a small way. Supporting the children’s home in Korea and African wildlife conservation efforts are two causes really close to my heart. The generosity of others really hit home when we travelled to Korea to collect our son. Charlie’s foster parents were a couple in their 60s and they gave him unconditional love for the first 13 months of his life even though they knew they’d be saying goodbye to him (although not forever as it turns out as we still keep in regular contact with them). Seeing them with Charlie was a really amazing and life-changing experience. Unfortunately there aren’t enough foster carers and many children live in orphanages. Donating money to these kids will hopefully have a very real and positive impact on their lives. I’ve also been lucky enough to travel to Africa a number of times. It’s such an amazing continent and seeing wild animals in their natural state is a truly wonderful experience. Of course, these animals are very vulnerable and I think we have an obligation to do whatever we can to protect them and their habitat.

  7. 7. Do you have plans to publish another book?

    Stiletto Safari was only published in March so I’m still in mental recovery mode! Writing Stiletto Safari was huge fun though so we’ll see…

  8. 8. Who are your favourite chick lit authors and books?

    Well, I’m a bit of a sucker for Sophie Kinsella. Even though her plots are far-fetched and ridiculous there are always some hilarious scenes. She’s reliably funny and her books make for enjoyable holiday reads.

  9. 9. What are you reading right now?

    I’ve just finished reading The Hunger Games which I really enjoyed and am part way through Stigma by Philip Hawley. It’s not chick lit. It’s a thriller along the lines of The Fugitive. I’m going to Thailand in a few weeks so I’ll be looking at Chicklit Club for some fun, light read suggestions.

  10. 10. What advice would you give to other aspiring authors?

    Start writing! And don’t agonize too much over the first few pages, your book will naturally evolve and you’ll probably end up rewriting large parts of your text anyway. Also remember to keep it fun. If writing becomes a chore you’ll never finish writing your book.

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