September 2008


After the success of her debut novel, Love Struck, Melanie La'Brooy gave up her career in the art world to become a full-time writer. Her latest novel, The Babymoon - a sequel to her first - is out this month. She lives in Melbourne with her husband and son.

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  1. Why did you decide to continue Isabelle's story in The Babymoon?

    Isabelle was the heroine of my first novel Love Struck and I love writing her because she's basically my alter-ego only with the neuroses and paranoia ratcheted up by a factor of 100. She tends to come out when the subject matter is very personal. When I fell pregnant with my first child a few years ago and decided to use the experience for my next book it seemed like the right time to bring her back.

  2. How much of your own pregnancy experiences went into the book?

    Quite a few although I do want to stipulate that unlike Isabelle, my son was NOT conceived while I was wearing a football jumper! There is a chapter in the book in which Isabelle is about eight months pregnant and catches a crowded peak-hour tram home and no one offers her a seat. That really happened to me and despite the fact that my enormous stomach was practically implanted on the face of the seated young man in front of me, he just pretended that I didn't exist. So I went home and wrote down everything that I wished I had said to him if only I could have thought of it at the time. That was quite cathartic I must say.

  3. What does your husband think about sharing a name with the ex, Charlie?

    Ha! He's used to it now although it was a slight shock when he first read Love Struck about six years ago when we had just started going out. He opened the book to read the title of Chapter One ('Exit Charlie') and I remember that he turned to me and said 'You could have warned me!' I took the names Sebastian and Charles in Love Struck from the novel Brideshead Revisited which I love. Most of the blokes in The Wish List are named after English Romantic poets and Oscar and Pelham in Serendipity are named after two of my favourite comic writers: Oscar Wilde and P.G. Wodehouse.

  4. Did you know the names of the Wiggles before having your son?

    Nope! And I still don't. But I can sing all the words to pretty much every Justine Clarke song and I also seem to have acquired the entire back catalogue of Peter Combe. (They both sing songs for children in case you're wondering.)

  5. How did you get into writing novels?

    I wrote my first novel Love Struck while I was living in Sydney and working full-time for an art auction house. I had always wanted to be a writer but I had never studied writing or done a professional course. I always thought that I would be a very serious writer because my taste in books has always been very literary. But I wrote a serious novel and it was just awful - so pretentious. Thankfully I knew it was a 'first attempt' and never showed it to anyone. Then my relationship broke up and I was suddenly alone and heartbroken and more lost than I've ever been in my life. So I started writing again, as a distraction more than anything, and at the end of it I thought the manuscript was readable. I sent it off to a few literary agents and within a few months I had an agent and a publisher.

  6. How important is humour to your writing?

    It's probably what my books are best known for. Other chick lit authors are much better on family sagas and complex relationships and I'm always in awe of anyone who can write a realistic sex scene - I just can't do it, I always start wondering what my mother would think if she read it. I think readers choose my books when they want something to make them laugh.

  7. How has being a mother affected your writing routine?

    What routine?! I actually do sort of have a routine again now that my son is a bit older but the first few months were just chaos. I went back to work when my son was three months old but we were fortunate in that I work from home and he was looked after in our home by a wonderful nanny. But it was pretty hard to shut myself away in my study and not come out every time that he cried. I'm not sure that I ever managed to stay in there to be honest. So it's basically been a case of adjusting to writing with constant disruptions and snatching whatever time and support I can get.

  8. Out of all your characters, which is your favourite?

    That's a hard one! I do have a soft spot for Isabelle because she's such a lunatic and makes life so hard for herself. And I loved writing Meg from The Wish List because she was a challenge to write. I wanted her to be hard and prickly to offset Lucy's soft, romantic nature but there's always a risk when you write a character like that that the reader might end up disliking the character. So I gave Meg a good sense of humour and most of the best lines which I think helped. Oh - and I can't forget Oscar in Serendipity. I adore Oscar.

  9. Have you based any of your characters on real friends/family?

    Yes - Frannie, Cate and Audie from Love Struck and The Babymoon are based on two of my best friends and my sister. They're such good sports for allowing me to use some of their real traits and our relationships in my novels. Frannie's real life alter-ego is a professional artist and my gorgeous sister really does love housework and baking and all of those other Martha Stewart qualities that Audie has. Cate is based on my friend Sarah who is wise and logical as compared with my tendency towards scattiness.

  10. In Serendipity, Hero masquerades as a trapeze artist. Have you ever pretended to be someone else?

    I actually stole that fabulous story from my friend Lara (who is the model for Fran) who really did do that one night in New York. I think the closest I've come is when I was in a very noisy bar a long time ago and I told a guy that I was studying Fine Arts. He thought I said Finance and I couldn't be bothered correcting him. This turned out to be somewhat embarrassing when I ran into him again at a later date and he asked me how things were in the banking world in front of a large group of mutual friends, all of whom knew that I have trouble remembering my own PIN.

  11. Do you think being Australian brings something different to chick lit?

    I love writing books with local references and I think Aussie readers love it too. I think it's important for any society to see itself reflected in its popular culture. I never really notice how Aussie my books are until they get picked up overseas and foreign editors send through huge lists of queries. When The Wish List was published in the USA (as Romantic Fiction) I also realised how much I used "bloody" as an adjective in that very Aussie way because it got cut every single time in the US version!

  12. Have you ever experienced problems with your books 'translating' into an international market?

    The front cover of the German edition of Love Struck consisted entirely of a photograph of a gigantic strawberry. I have absolutely no idea why as I don't think there were even any strawberries in the book.

  13. Who are your favourite authors?

    For chick lit I think Marian Keyes is the best - her books are so funny that it's easy to overlook the fact that she's actually tackling some very dark topics; domestic violence, addiction, eating disorders etc. She has an absolute gift for moving seamlessly between dark and light. I also love Georgette Heyer, P.G. Wodehouse and E.M. Forster.

  14. What are you working on now?

    I'm currently doing the edits for the UK version of The Babymoon which will be coming out over there next year. They just need some of the more obscure Aussie references explained or changed. And then after that I have to get cracking on novel number five! Help...

  15. Are we likely to see another Isabelle book?

    I do enjoy creating new characters but Isabelle can be quite persistent and if her voice starts up again in my head I'll probably have to write it all down just so that she doesn't send me crazy and can send all of you crazy instead.

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