March 2014


Journalist/copywriter Mink Elliott’s latest novel, A Mother Dimension, is about a mother who is flung back into her past. She is also the author of Just Another Manic Mumday and The Pissed Off Parents Club. She lives in Sydney with her family.

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  1. 1. What inspired you to write your latest novel, A Mother Dimension?

    Talking to loads of other mums at my daughter’s school, I unwittingly stumbled upon a critical element of the hu-MUM condition (sorry about that – my inner Kathy Lette surfacing, there!!) – the harking back to the good old days as a mechanism for coping with the humdrum, Groundhog Days you can sometimes get stuck in when you’ve got young kids. Myself included, we’d get all misty-eyed when remembering our younger selves – and would give almost anything to turn back time for a little while to when we had more energy, we were slimmer, we weren’t so cranky all the time, we could go out at a moment’s notice, bouncing back from a hangover by 10am the next day and so on. I was delighted to find out I was not alone in occasionally hankering after my 20s and often wondering what happened to the girl I used to be. And on a particularly trying day when the kids were fighting and bellowing demands at me every three seconds, my husband was out playing golf, the toast was burning, we had run out of milk and my hair was full of vomit (courtesy of my son – not my own, I hasten to add), I shut the bathroom door, turned on the shower, stepped into the steam and closed my eyes. As a classic Sydney storm raged outside, I started fantasising about being propelled back to another time – a time when I wasn’t so madly stressed, I could do what I wanted whenever I wanted and I could stuff myself full of carbs with relative impunity. And there, in that bathroom, before I’d even rinsed all the conditioner out of my hair, A Mother Dimension started taking shape.

  2. 2. Why did you decide to self-publish it? How has the experience compared to having a traditional publisher?

    I wanted to have control over everything, I suppose. The events in the book, the tone, the language, the cover – I wanted to be in charge of everything. I wouldn’t normally describe myself as bossy, but in this instance, I loved being the CEO of Mink Elliott and A Mother Dimension. Overall, it’s been brilliant, but I do miss seeing my books in bookshops and supermarkets - having a giant, international publishing house behind you is great for simply getting your books out there. So the best thing about self-publishing, I’d say, is that the success of your book is all down to you. However, that’s also the worst thing about it – because you may not be (and probably aren’t, let’s face it) a natural one-woman marketeer, PR person, literary agent, distribution department, accountant, editor, copy editor, proof-reader and publisher all rolled into one.

  3. 3. What year would you most like to return to?

    My third year at university in 1987 was a pretty special year – my brother had lived through a horrific pushbike accident, the tequila slammer nights we had in our halls of residence were legendary, I was much thinner than I thought I was at the time, both British and Australian music was great, I was 19 and on the verge of ... well, failing and having to repeat another year at uni, actually! Oh yes, it was great fun in 1987! But hindsight is a truly wonderful thing, so I’d also like to go back to July 2006, to when my daughter was born. If I could be a new, older mum again, I wouldn’t be nearly so terrified and anxious. I wouldn’t let the whole breastfeeding hoo-hah get in the way of enjoying every minute of those early days with my girl and I’d be so much cooler than I was! I thought I was going to be amazingly laid-back and relaxed, but I was so nervous, I became a tense, tetchy control freak! Not that I am anymore, of course...(see answers to first and second questions!)

  4. 4. How much research did you need to do into the 1990s – or did your memories of that time naturally come back to you?

    It was a bit of both, actually. I looked up dates for things like Take That breaking up, what songs were out, various awards shows and specifics about Euro ’96 matches and stuff - but loads of things spilled out from my memory, too, as hazy and unreliable as it is!

  5. 5. When she returned to 1996, Kate affected a number of future pop culture moments. What similar mark would you like to make?

    Gor – that’s a good question! You mean like in life? I’d like to single-handedly be responsible for world peace. How’s that? Also, I think I would really like to change our attitudes and working practices towards mothers, parents and grandparents. Somehow I’d like to affect government changes and make genuinely generous parental leave available to everyone who’s having kids. I’d like to introduce tax breaks for single mums and dads, working families etc etc to reflect a real respect, understanding and even admiration for what they try to do – and to not always insist on putting profit margins and business first. I’d like to affect the reigning attitudes towards child-bearing and child-rearing – and make it not the sole preserve of women (except maybe the bearing part!) and make it something that is recognised for being brilliant. It’s not easy working and raising kids and yet it’s such an important thing to do – for the whole of society! Single mums get a really hard time of it – as do older mums – and we really need to look at bucking up our ideas in this respect. Similarly, it really winds me up when I think of teachers and nurses (traditionally and still mainly today ‘female careers’) being paid woefully, yet expected to work so hard providing such crucial services. Not that I want to go back to 1913 as a Suffragette and martyr myself by leaping under the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby or anything. No, I can be a martyr quite well in 2014! I think I would have been a Suffragette if I’d been alive in those days - mind you, I’d be rubbish at hunger strikes... Maybe just a bit of light chaining myself to railings for the cause? Oh, I don’t know. I’d just like to see a bit more equality between the sexes. Well, a lot more, actually. And to help make mothers of all ages respected and even revered.

  6. 6. How did you get into writing?

    I always wanted to be an advertising copywriter (like Darren Stevens in Bewitched) but thought it was way beyond me, so I tried to get into journalism, instead. I applied for all sorts of cadetships (that I didn’t get) and finally ended up working as a ‘reporter’ on a weekly men’s magazine in Sydney called The Picture – sort of like Nuts and Zoo. The men who worked on it were so witty and clever, but I was always close to being sacked, because I just couldn’t come up with 58 hilarious new words for boobs or write a compelling story about genius lap dancers the way they could. Still, I learnt an awful lot about writing and office politics and looking back, I wouldn’t change the experience for the world.

  7. 7. Why do you like to focus on parenting in your novels?

    Maybe because it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I think parents - mums in particular - deserve great praise and acknowledgement for what they do for no pay, no holidays, no lunch hours or even trips to the loo on their own! It can feel like a lonesome, thankless task at times – and if we don’t all club together, share experiences and have a good old laugh about it, we’ll ... well, it doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?

  8. 8. Are you likely to revisit Roxy again in another book?

    Ha! I’d love to! I always thought I’d give Roxy 10 years or so and then see where life’s taken her and her family amidst a tsunami of adolescence and hormones (of both the teenage and menopausal variety!). Or maybe 20 years on, once the kids are older and they’ve flown the coop (if 20-somethings do things like leave home in the future). I can imagine Roxy and Jack as empty-nesters, him getting under her feet all the time (no change there, then!) and examining their relationship once they’re on their own again.

  9. 9. Do you consider yourself more English or Australian?

    I often find that old Garbage song I’m Only Happy When It Rains going around and around in my head, so I wonder if I lean more towards the English sensibilities! Mind you, you can take the girl out of Australia, but you can’t take Australia out of the girl, as they say, so sometimes I betray my heritage and go up at the end of a sentence, like I’m asking a question when really, it’s a statement? And sometimes you can’t help being a bit sniffy about ‘beaches’ and ‘summer’ in the UK!

  10. 10. Which do you prefer:
    Past, present or future?

    Paul Weller once sang in My Ever Changing Moods (great old Style Council song) that ‘the past is our knowledge, the present our mistake and the future we always leave too late” – and I think he was right! But in terms of what’s going on in my own life, I am now definitely more into the present and the future than ever before. I’m really trying to be in the moment, live in the here and now etc etc because I don’t want the great times (which are around here somewhere, if only I could remember where I put them!) with my young kids to pass me by – I want to savour and enjoy them while I can. And take lots of photos that will hopefully one day jog my already shockingly bad memory.

    White, dark or milk chocolate?

    Milk. No contest. My daughter loves white choc and my mum loves dark – but sadly, they’re both wrong.

    Blur, Oasis or Take That?

    Blur and Oasis would be on a par for me. I remember seeing Blur at Wembley (probably sometime in 1996) and they put on a great show – the atmos was electric. And Damon Albarn and Alex James were so cute! But I wasn’t really into TT that much – although I do still love Back For Good.

  11. 11. What are you working on now?

    I want to get some solid advertising agency experience under my belt, so I’m working on my portfolio as well as posting random stuff on my website. I’m always trying to find time to film the trailer for A Mother Dimension in between looking after the kids, losing loads of weight (yet still hoping the kids don’t eat their dinner so I can scoff it all – kids’ cals don’t count, do they?), promoting the book and trying to write some new novels. I have three on the go at the mo’ and can’t decide which one to focus on first (novels, that is – not kids!) – maybe you can help! One is about an older mother struggling in our youth-obsessed society, one is about a trial marriage separation from both the man’s and the woman’s points of view and the third is about a gang of razor-sharp pensioners in a nursing home. Which one do you think I should concentrate on? Drop me a line and let me know in the CONTACT bit of my website!

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