This is Zoe’s Blog

14
Mar

Break-ups are the worst. And, the best.

In 2010, I pitched a break-up advice book to my publisher. It was to be called I Love Break-Ups! and would act as a companion to my just-released self-helpy relationship guide, Textbook Romance.

I wanted to write it because I passionately believe break-ups are an intensely positive thing. And while they really, definitely hurt, so does all of the most important growth in our life. Re-framing a break-up in a positive light helps you heal, and forgive, and move forward, and ultimately, be happier and more confident. (And waaaay better at attracting quality relationships in the future.)

I felt like break-ups had wielded far too much power over us for too long, and they needed to be taught a goddamn lesson.

Plus, around 80% of the emails I got from girls reading Textbook Romance, or my (effervescent but completely unqualified) relationship advice column in Cosmopolitan for seven years concerned break-ups: should they instigate one, how could they handle a bad one, what were they to do when they really weren’t handling a bad one, etc. And I realised that the resources for young women going through a modern break-up were pretty scarce. Or a bit naff and Americany and Sign Up To My 30-Day Course-y. Or, just dull, cliche and easily ignorable and therefore redundant. 

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One of my Cosmo columns. I insisted on my illustrated swing.
Never go anywhere without it.

Anyway. Writing novels took over and I Love Break-Ups! was parked. After a few years, I bought back the rights, because who knows! Maybe I would quietly release it just as an ebook, or do a website instead, or whatever. But then I got busy with more books and Go-To and a baby, and yet again I Love Break-Ups! was put on ice.

In 2016 I finally got the time and the headspace to focus on my break-up project. And I realised:  It should be an app, not a book! After all, the phone is where the freshly broken-hearted live! Where their anguish and anger rises, and all their relationship memories are housed, and where their stalking is far too easily enabled, and, of course, where their terrible drunken texting occurs. Having break-up help in your phone might be more helpful than having it at home on your bedside table, in other words.

This medium change didn’t at all hinder the enormous volume of content of course. I wrote a books’ worth of advice for the app, but instead of chapters 1-20, the information lives, intuitively, and non-chronologically, in a small electronic advice, on call, as you need it, when you need it. (‘As you’re about to call your ex/open another bottle of sav blanc.’)

And it’s finally done!

Introducing Break-Up Boss!

I changed the title from I Love Break-Ups! to Break-Up Boss, and here’s why: It’s not about me, or what I love. (Croissants, beer, massages.) Plus, when your heart is in the gutter and your cheeks are wet with tears, a jubilant and nauseatingly optimistic title like I Love Break-Ups! might make you want to vomit or kick something/me.

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And Break-Up Boss is exactly what it should be called. It’s a purposefully empowering term, to remind you that the break-up is not the boss, YOU are.

Break-ups, generally speaking, and there are always exceptions, take over our lives, personalities, work, diet, TV-watching choices and desire for alcoholic beverages, and quite frankly, this has to stop. YOU can take charge. YOU can be the boss of your break-up. YOU can choose to make it a time of growth and emotional evolution. Life is too short not to learn and grow from our romantic upheavals, then move the hell forward.

Useful and meaningful and helpful!

Break-Up Boss gives you all of the tools and techniques to deal with all of the stages of your break-up, from blatant denial, to blind rage, to deep, unshakable misery and even those first, sweet strains of getting-over-it. This is a Real Life, no-nonsense picture of a break-up, and an enthusiastic, empowered and positive view of how to deal with it.

When you make big changes in your life, (or, um, they are made for you) you need someone on your side, championing you, helping you, serving up tough-love and making sure you don’t fuck up. This is Break-Up Boss. It is your advocate, your pocket coach and your friend. It has a singular goal: to get you through your break-up in a positive, healthy manner. (Or at the very least, not text your ex just cos it’s Sunday and you’re sad and hungover and horny.)

Exceptional illustrations!

I lovingly roped in Mari Andrew, a NYC-based writer, illustrator, Instagram superstar, and wonderful, insightful, funny, wholehearted and full-feeling lady, to illustrate Break-Up Boss. I fell in love with her comics on Instagram, and dared to ask if she wanted to collaborate, such was the depth of observation and wit she displayed with her work on the topics of romance, dating, heartbreak, and the single life. She said YASS! And the app is 1000% better for it. My god she’s good.

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One of the many magnificent and omg-that’s-so-me Mari masterpieces that grace Break-Up Boss.

Call me arrogant, (it’s how you pronounce my name in Dutch anyway) but I genuinely believe that Break-Up Boss can help you if you’re going through a break-up. Or more accurately, it is my genuine hope that it will.

I have had my fair share of grim, nasty, angry and sad break-ups, and I was atrociously bad at almost all of them. But then I wasn’t. I was good at it. And I grew up a lot. And I knew what I wanted, (or more crucially, what I did not) and who I was, and now I am one of those insufferable smug married jerks who writes books telling single people what to do. Cute!

(Needless to say/write, Break-Up Boss makes a TERRIFIC gift for friends going through a break-up: it lasts longer than a bottle of wine or flowers, and is a genuine investment in their healing.)

Anyway.

All the information, and all of the features (including the bit where you can ‘send a text’ to your ex for the purpose of catharsis and rage-unleashing sans loss of dignity) are explained in the app, which is available from the App Store now (and very soon from Google Play) for $9.99.

I’m donating 10% of every purchase to Safe Steps, a Family Violence Response Centre in Victoria, (available nationally via freecall on 1800 015 188, 24 hours a day, seven days a week). My app is lighthearted, but the simple, awful truth is that family violence can play an enormous role in break-ups, either as the impetus, or post break-up. I’m not equipped to administer advice on family violence, but Safe Steps is, and I urge any victim of family violence to call on their crisis support team, 24/7, to explore your options, or just have a chat to someone.

I’m proud of Break-Up Boss. She’s my darling, my seven-year passion project. I believe in it, and I really believe in women, and maybe, just maybe, this little app can heal and rebuild a few decimated hearts.

Download it now or be miserable forever!
JK JK! Just for a year or so.

Break-Up Boss App
Break-Up Boss website
Break-Up Boss Instagram

BuBsuck

Responses to this drivel: 3 Comments
27
Feb

Tips for flying (long haul) with a toddler.

Those congenial Expedia travel lords recently asked me to write about my experiences travelling with a toddler.

I happily obliged, because if there’s one thing I know about travelling 36 hours with a toddler, it’s two things:

  1. If possible, choose a toddler you actually like or are related to,
  2. It’s achievable.

We decided we liked our two year-old enough to fly to Europe with him, and so the planning began. We are frequent flyers, we travel domestically a lot and overseas a few times a year. We have even done this exact trip with him before… except he was four months old and all that was required was my boobs and the plane bassinet. We have flown to NYC and the Maldives with him, but this was before he was moving around. A toddler is different. And by different, I mean, do you really need to go to Italy?

There is a reason many antipodean parents instill a no-fly rule when their kids are aged between about 10 months and three. It’s a marathon effort. My husband wears sports clothes because he genuinely thinks of it as an endurance race.

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Alas, I write this knowing our parent (2) to child (1) ratio is comically easy, especially when a friend of mine with SIX children, including twin one-year olds was on the same flight as us, but there is still planning involved, inasmuch as ideally you:

  1. a) Avoid melt-downs (yours. But also theirs, I guess)
  2. b) Get some sleep
  3. c) Not deliberately leave your child in transit because they’re slowly but powerfully extinguishing your will to live
    Here are some of the tips I have accrued for long-haul toddler flying.

Fly at night

Choose a night flight if it’s a long one. The child will be wide awake and stimulated at the airport, so run them ragged and make sure they have food in their belly. Yes, you risk a bit of a meltdown choosing a late night flight and it likely won’t be pretty at the departures gate, but better to have them so exhausted they can’t put up a fight on the flight, rather than well-rested and ready for ice cream and Despicable Me followed by Frozen and a few hundred laps of the aisle. Day flights have always failed for us. It’s too bright and exciting for child to sleep, and they are generally already hungry, antsy and tired from transit before we even board. What fun.

Be at the airport first, but board last

Be at the airport early. Everything takes longer with kids. If you’re travelling as a family, try to get one parent on first to ensure you get some cabin space for all your bags, then the other parent boards last with the kids (why sit on the plane any longer than required?) Once you’re on, try to make their seat as ‘bedroomy’ as possible: bring their sleeping sack/blanket or pillow, their comforter or teddy, and our travel must have for both the flight and the hotel at the other end: a big black scarf or piece of fabric and gaffa tape to tape over any lights above them. Read books to calm them.


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Spare clothes

Pack a Wondersuit/PJs for child, (we dress ours in this for the airport, just chucking a jumper over the top and some shoes on for a stylish update) plus a full change of clothes for arrival. And plenty of undies or nappies. (We went through TEN NAPPIES flying to Greece with him as an infant. TEN. And four Wondersuits.) Also pack a spare top for you. You’ll be grateful for it.

Read the rest of the article over here.

But not here.

Responses to this drivel: 2 Comments
05
Dec

Some books I read, loved and can recommend.

Every now and then I take a photo of a book, or even a stack of books, with nice lighting and cute composition, with the intention of placing said photo on the Instagram, enthusiastically endorsing them so that everyone else can experience the same thrill and feverish page turning mania I did.

Then I forget to post it, start a new book, and promptly forget all about previous book, especially when someone says, ‘Read any good books lately?’.

So here’s a list of (some of the) Books I’ve Loved* this year.

That doesn’t mean they’re the only books I read, nor that they were necessarily released this year, by the way, just that I read them this year. So don’t get all fidgety if you see Are you there God, it’s me Margaret on the list. A good book is a good book! They don’t expire! Good on them!

Of course, it goes without saying (but not, apparently, without writing) that a book is a tremendous Chrimmus gift, especially since many people, like myself, get crippled with indecision at the book shop.

Another great gift is a homemade cream and sponge cake, in case anyone I know is reading this.

TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT, Maria Semple

If you are yet to read Maria’s brilliant Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, for the love of lice, do. It is a triumph in funny, clever, manic story telling. This is equally wonderful, her female protagonist again dancing dangerously between feisty, glamorous wife, mother and woman, and complete nervous breakdown. Semple is a former writer for SNL, Mad About You and Arrested Development. So, yknow, chops. She’s sharp as lemon and funny as hell.

Good for: Lovers of wit, sassy dames, and just all women with pulses, really.

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THE DRY, Jane Harper

Utterly harrowing and at times difficult to read (as a mother – those who’ve read it know what I mean) this Aussie outback murder-mystery-thriller is a cracking yarn, which is not a sentence I thought I would ever write, but there you go.

Good for: People into crime stuff.

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ELEANOR AND PARK, Rainbow Rowell

Not only does Rainbow win at names, but her tale about two misfit teens falling in love (in the EIGHTIES NO LESS!!!) is a masterpiece of deep feels and wonderful detail. I loved this book so much. Make me a mixtape already.

Good for: Romantics and nostalgics and ’80s kids.

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THE GAP OF TIME, Jeanette Winterson.

A sexy, elegant, (get ready for it…) unputdownable modern retelling of Billy Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale. (Also: Jeanette Winterson! She of Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit!) Fun fact: The Gap of Time was the first in a series of modern Shakespearian re-tellings. Since then Anne Tyler has published Vinegar Girl (casually hanging out in the stack next to my bed) which is based on The Taming of The Shrew, and the inimitable Margaret Atwood has just released Hag-Seed, a retelling of The Tempest. Woo!

Good for: Shakespeare fans. And also non-Shakespeare fans.

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BURIAL RITES, Hannah Kent

I finally read this (2013) smash as a catch up before reading Kent’s new book, The Good People, which I have not got around to reading but it’s coming on holidays with me because what could be better than some dark and miserable Scandi Noir over summer. Like billions of others, Burial Rites grabbed be my the goolies and did not let go. And that’s saying something cos a tale set in rural Iceland in the 1800s about a woman condemned to death for the murder of her employer is not generally my jam. Kent is a phenomenal writer, and this is an exceptional book.

Good for: People who can read.

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BEAUTIFUL RUINS, Jess Walter

I read this in 2015 and again this year because I’m lazy, sure, but also cos it’s great. It’s wonderful and often feels as though you are watching a film. There’s romance! Glamour! Mystery! Love! Italy! Movie stars! Death! Oh, what a ride! Jess Walter is constantly referred to as a ridiculously talented writer, but this book is rubbish. No, wait. This book proves it! This book proves it.

Good for: Romantics and film-lovers and fans of a good bloody story.

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LETTERS OF NOTE, Compiled by Shaun Usher

I gift this book constantly. (Also it’s follow up, More Letters of Note.) It is a magnificent, very special collection of rare, romantic, historical, heartbreaking, harrowing, hilarious, breathtaking and bombastic letters from presidents, poets, painters and paupers, featuring job applications, suicide notes, letters from fans and the first recorded use of OMG. This is a brilliant, gutting, gorgeous book, full of gems, and OH, how I love it.

Good for: ANYONE. No, wait. EVERYONE.

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WHAT I’VE LEARNED, (US) Esquire

My favourite page from my favourite magazine (note that it’s US Esquire, not that stinkin’ UK edition), where, thanks to the exceptional interviewing skills of (usually) Cal Fussman, you get access to the most crystallised, potent little mind diamonds from successful, fascinating and brilliant people. Often funny, always interesting, and with more wisdom than, I don’t know, something really wise like an owl maybe, there are a few editions, but the older ones can be tricky to get your mitts on. The most recent edition (featuring Ted Danson, Robert DeNiro, Aaron Sorkin, Lionel Richie, Sigourney Weaver, Amy Schumer etc etc) isn’t though.

Good for: Everyone but tis an especially terrific gift for any male human you’re struggling to buy for.

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WE FOUND A HAT, Jon Klassen

The newest and maybe my favourite from the king of very silly and very perfect picture books. If you haven’t already bough his other hat-based tales, This Is Not My Hat, and I Want My Hat Back, then you’re a sweet fool.

Good for: Toddlers and – gasp! – their parents.

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Also I hear that beauty book Amazinger Face is good, and that book that they made a telly show made out of, The Wrong Girl is great, and The Younger Man and Playing The Field and Textbook Romance and Air Kisses are really awesome and worth a read too, but I can’t remember who wrote them except I think her name had something to do with a beer and she has frizzy hair.

 

*I also read lots of (often dull) non-fiction (Unfinished Business, What To Do When It’s Your Turn, Big Magic, The Importance of Being Little, The Whole-Brain Child) and am totally up to date with Sweet Valley High, but they’re not books I loved with a big pink loveheart.

Responses to this drivel: 32 Comments
28
Nov

My favourite bits of Italy.

Despite the fact that it requires many thousands of dollars/kilometres for Australians to holiday abroad, and our currency is always being picked on by the bigger kids, we Strayans continue to travel overseas in rising numbers, and with craftier luggage tricks. Good on us.

I usually choose Italy. I’ll go there annually if they’ll continue to have me, despite my terrible pronunciation of “grazie”.

Some reasons include:

  • Carbs
  • Fashion
  • Negronis
  • Ricotta cheesecake
  • Swimming off rocks and no sand anywhere
  • No judgment when ordering a bowl of pasta, then pizza
  • Friendly, warm, welcoming Italians
  • Everyone looks great because everyone wears sunglasses always
  • Carbs

Like most people, I’ve done the classic Italian hotspots: Venice, Positano, Sicily and, of course, Athens. Here are some of my favourite things to do/see/eat/visit in the aforementioned hotspots.

Taormina, Sicily

We stayed in Taormina, on the beach, rather than up in town. But with a cable car swinging its way between the town (all the food/shops and most of the hotels) and beach (a handful of hotels and restaurants) all day, both options are good. Have a fancy, view-soaked drink at Grand Hotel Taormina, and outstanding aperitivo at Timoleone. Have your (daily) granita at Bam Bam bar, swim at Isola Bella, and make a day trip to Noto and Syracuse if time permits. Definitely eat lunch (or ideally stay) at Country House Villadorata, just outside of Noto, if you’re roaming. It served up the finest meal of my trip.

 

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Portofino

Portofino could never be accused of being cheap, but that’ll happen when you’re a) tiny, b) breathtaking, and c) overrun with super yachts and tourists. But it’s so lovely! Pop on your best boaty pastels and make the trip already! Head up to Hotel Splendido (often called the best hotel in the world, and after staying there, I’m a believer) for a sunset cocktail, and when the bill arrives suck it up and file it in your “Lifelong Memories” folder. Buy some cheese, wine and crackers in town and have a picnic in the surrounding national park; have a casual lunch at La Taverna del Marinaio, or walk away from the packed main square to L’Isolotto for some of the best pizza of your goddamn life. There’s a small, protected swimming area just below Splendido where locals swim laps (scene of one of the most magical rock swims of my life), or Paraggi beach just outside town.

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Venice?

Rome?

Capri and Positano?

Florence?

Click here.

Definitely not here.

Responses to this drivel: 6 Comments
27
Oct

How to pack for (and dress up on) your holidays.

When Expedia (he’s just one guy wearing a cowboy hat and board shorts, by the way) said to me: “Hey Travel Ambassador Lady, does dressing up on holidays make sense to you?” I said, “Expedia, to me, dressing up on holidays makes PERFECT sense.”

I put it in the same category as ‘dress for the job you want, not the job you have’ except that it’s more, ‘dress for the place you’re in, not the one you came from.’

I cop a fair bit of stick about it from my mates, of course. It’s so much effort, my mates say. Who cares how you look on holidays, they say. Take off that velvet cape, they say.

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But it’s not an effort for me. I love it. I adopt a new personality overseas, a much more flamboyant, fruity one than the jeans and trainers girl back home.

To me, the holiday experience is about playing along. About immersing into the city or country you’re in. So, if you’re in Sicily, you eat pasta alla norma, cannolli and caponata, you drink Zibbibo and you swim where the locals tell you to. And for me, you dress in bright colours and with as many pom-poms as legal.

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I’m embarrassingly osmotic when I travel. If I see a cool woman wearing a slip dress with a flamboyant head wrap in Portofino, I want in. If I see a minimalist woman wearing bejeweled slippers with a white pantsuit in Rome, I want in. And if I see a babe in a white shirt tucked into a colourful ankle-length skirt with a neckerchief in Florence, I want in. To me travel is Real Life Instagram; I see things that inspire and delight, and in that moment, in that piazza, in that sunshine, I want to play along. Even if it’s just with a new ZARA top and belt, and a bucket of holiday confidence; I’m in.

Anyway. Recently I went to Italy.

I knew I’d shop over there, so I packed light: a tight edit of shoes and a few dresses and tops from last summer, half of which I was ready to farewell if space got tight. This, I’ve learned, is smarter than flying with nothing, assuming you will fill your suitcase with cute new stuff the second you arrive, only to arrive and discover they are already doing autumn-winter fashion, and it’s 30 degrees, and you’re screwed.

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Read the full story here.

Not here.

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26
Sep

On having one’s book adapted into a TV show.

Look, I’ve barely mentioned this, maybe once or eighty times over the past few months, but my 2014 novel, The Wrong Girl, has been adapted into a TV series, and that TV series begins this week.

Since no one – NO ONE AND I WILL FIGHT ANYONE WHO DECLARES OTHERWISE – is more thrilled about this than me, I wanted to diarise the process, so that I could read it one day when I’m a grown up blogger and come back to my childhood blog and go through my blog diary etc.

Timing and luck.

I may be infuriatingly self-deprecating (‘Australian’) but I also understand how lucky I am. An adaptation is not why you write books (you do it for the free bookmarks and the private jets), it’s an incredible, super cherry on top bonus.

When I was an arrogant, ignorant cute pig in my twenties I told my agent that my novels were perfect for TV, (because how could she, a seasoned professional, possibly know this unless I told her?) or even a movie, and she should “get them out there” which means nothing, and was a huge neon sign pointing to my naiveté: you don’t shop your books around – people come to you if they want in.

Obviously nothing came of any of that. And nor should it have. When you want something too much, for the wrong reasons (in my case a firm belief that my books were SO GREAT/designs on fame and grandeur/general youthful self-importance) and push it too hard, it very rarely, if ever comes off.

Fast-forward 10 years. I’m busy with a family and a business instead of losing sleep wondering why my books aren’t transformed into a film directed by Clint Eastwood.

And sometimes when you’re busy getting on with life, and not attached to the win, good stuff happens. I grew up with a mum who lovingly taught me the power of the subconscious mind at a very young age, and I still subscribe to the ask, believe, receive etc model. Manifesting is my superpower. It works because I believe it works. (Like deodorant. Or Apple TV.) (Sometimes.)

But at the core of all the ask-the-universe-for-shit stuff, is the fact that you must let go. To make the request, and believe it’s happening, and then say goodbye to it. If you hold on to it too tight, and focus only on that, to the point of obsession, it doesn’t work.

I wonder if I’ve subconsciously always had 20 projects on the go so that I don’t get too attached to any one of them too much. Awful to have too much time on your hands and one thing you’re desperate to hear about. Better to keep busy. Models, actors, writers – anyone in an ebb and flow industry learn this pretty quickly.

So make your requests, then get on with life, and do good work, and be grateful, and be present in all the great stuff you get to do and have, and think about what you can offer others and do next. This makes for a fantastic life, but also you’re in a much better flow for good stuff to happen because you’re projecting abundance, and you’re feeling abundant and so you welcome more of it. Etc etc. A date breeds another date and so on. Like attracts like.

How the TV show came about.

Annnyway. The lovely people at Playmaker (the production company who have gifted us Love Child, House Husbands and The Code) approached my agent about optioning The Wrong Girl for a TV series last year. This is not wildly unusual, but most of the time, the optioning period expires before anything comes of it. But Playmaker were enthusiastic about getting it up, and fast. And this made me VERY EXCITED. But I kept a lid on it. Didn’t pester my agent. Just played cool. Kept busy.

Playmaker asked me to come on board in a consulting capacity (official title: associate producer) (made up title: All Powerful Author Wizard) which I thought was wildly flattering and wonderful, since it meant they weren’t just buying the world of The Wrong Girl, and doing whatever they liked with it (which they are absolutely entitled to once they have bought the rights), they were asking me to be part of it, too. It felt like being picked first for the football team, which I assume feels terrific, but wouldn’t know since I prefer golf.

One of the first things they did was bring in a scriptwriter to create the first episode: Judi McCrossin, TV script magician of The Secret Life of Us and Time of Our Lives.

When I read her script, I cried a bit. It was a triumph. How the fuck do you even DO that, my author-y brain demanded. How do you turn an already fully-formed story (‘the novel’) into something fresh, and new, with so much depth and heart and breadth, while retaining the original flavour of the book? Adaptations are notoriously tricky. The balance of old and new; loyalty and innovation. But she’d nailed it. I loved it.

I was a teeeeny bit anxious before reading it, although I’d told myself as soon as I signed the contract that whatever happened with the TV show was A) okay, and B) out of my hands. Judi could do anything she wanted with it. She could have driven a horrible, cheesy, naff stake right through the heart of it. But she didn’t. She gave it five Red Bulls, etiquette lessons, a whole new family, a huge heart, intense therapy and made it onto a godamn TV princess.

IMG_9758Judi and I on set being rascals. 

After many months of hard work from Playmaker to get the show funded and sold, I got a Friday night call that Channel 10 had picked up the show, which was the official piece in their huge production puzzle. I drank all the champagne.

IMG_1095Drinking some Good News Booze the night I got the call. We always keep some GNB the fridge in case good shit happens.

 The writing

The writers began work immediately. Joining Judi was the magnificent Michael Lucas (Offspring, Wentworth, Party Tricks) and Christine Bartlett (Offspring, Party Tricks) as well as Ian Meadows (The Moodys) (… later cast as Pete!), Claire Phillips (Bedhead) and myself. This was my 30 Rock moment: getting to sit in with the writers as they worked on the story for each episode, and listen and laugh and watch and marvel as they did their thing, which is a very specific and inspiring skill.

I did ZERO writing on The Wrong Girl; I was just there with the writers, enjoying seeing them map it all out, and helping with brainstorms on plot and character developments occasionally. Another writey brain to bounce off.

The first few sessions I had to gobble the words, ‘But in the book…”  back into my mouth. This was different! It was a whole new story; a new piece of art. The key characters and loose story were the same as in the book, but that was it. This was a big, beautiful new vision. Pete, for example, I dispose of very quickly in the book. But he is a major character in the TV series, and thank F for that. He is fantastic.

As a commercial fiction writer, and having worked in magazines I’m used to my work being edited and changed. I don’t get attached to what I write, I just want it to be the best it can possibly be, and for people to read it. And that’s why editors and publishers exist, and why I trust them: they know what they’re doing.

So when characters changed, or appeared who weren’t in the book, or people were cast who didn’t look like their book cousin (Lily, for example, is Eurasian in the book, but a blonde in the show) I didn’t mind at all. It’s an adaptation, not a reenactment. I envisioned my characters to look one way; the casting process offered another. Both are great. And look, to be honest, what my characters look like is a bit of an afterthought for me. It’s their essence, their personality, the way they speak and behave that I use when I write. I often go through at the end and give them their eye colour and hair length. Especially if they’re based on someone I know and I need to REALLY make sure that person won’t recognise themselves. Ahem.

 The Cast

The many many people who worked on The Wrong Girl are extremely competent, clever, experienced people who have worked in the biz for a long time. Whenever I would visit the set, I’d be clapping giddily, unable to believe it was all really happening, and just being a pest in general, and constantly reminded I wasn’t to post any social media.

Occasionally I would touch a desk or a prop in the on-set (‘pretend’) TV production office (very meta) and say to myself, ‘This all came from your head, you beautiful bastard’ and allow myself a second to feel proud. But mostly I would just be a pest who only came when crew meals were being served.

IMG_8526My first visit to set, sitting at the split with one of the three marvellous TWG directors, Daina Reid. Playing it cool, as usual.

The show has the most exceptional crew, directors, producers, and of course, cast. EVERYTHING on this show is quality. Pay attention to Lily and Simone’s bedrooms. Jack’s apartment. The beautiful lighting of the show. The music. The wardrobe. (Lily basically got to wear every Bella Freud, Etre Cecile and Equipment sweater I’ve ever wanted.) It’s astonishingly well done.

And the cast, well, they’re diamonds.

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The core four.

We have, of course, Jessica Marais, who plays Lily, and who is in almost every scene, which is a real win because she is an incredibly talented and experienced actor, who lights up the screen even when she is at rock bottom. I could watch her face all day. She is also a terrifically funny and generous player, and that came across again and again. Jess’s Lily is relatable, weak, strong, adorable, frustrating and real. It’s beautiful to watch.

Simone is played by Hayley Magnus (The Dressmaker) and from her first audition, I was enchanted. Simone is your classic manic pixie dream girl, but with heart, and vulnerability and strength, and Hayley brings it. It’s not the key love story in The Wrong Girl, but to me the relationship between Lily and Simone is the most powerful.

Rob Collins (Cleverman, The Lion King) plays Jack, and gives him the perfect measure of handsomeness, gravitas, and makes-you-feel-nervous-and-want-to-impress-him quality of Jack. Rob is a sensational actor, and the perfect gid-inducing love interest for Lily/Simone/anyone with a pulse.

Ian Meadows (The Moodys) plays Pete, Lily’s best friend (or perhaps more?). Pete is that scruffy, adorable, larrikin, brotherly-best mate you have forever, and all your friends think he’s bangable, but you can’t see it, because you have burping competitions with him after a few schooners. Ian is tremendous in this role. Charisma + caring + cute.

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At the first table read. I was a touch excited but didn’t let on.

… That’s the core four, but oh, there are so many more! The cast is the perfect blend of experienced faces and energetic newcomers. Craig McLachlan and Madeleine West are the attractive, bitey, passive aggressive Breakfast TV hosts, the fantastically dry David Woods plays Dale, CeCe Peters plays adorable Alice, the very funny Christie Whelan Browne plays Nikkii, Kerry Armstong and Steve Vizard play Lily’s mum and dad, Hamish Blake (hunk alert) is Hamilton the weather guy, Ryan Shelton is Bernard the cock (that’ll make sense later), Kevin Harrington plays Pete’s dad, Doris Younane is Sascha, Hugo Johnston-Burt is Lily’s brother, and Leah Vandenberg is Pete’s flame. (Fun fact: Leah is on Play School and a big hit in our house.)

IMG_9637The time Sonny and I went to set to see Daddy and he yelled just as there was a quiet and poignant moment in recording. Good one, mum!

Anyway. I think you get the picture: I’m excited. I have had the great privilege to have seen the whole season and this is a genuinely great show with tremendous feels. I would have endorsed it regardless, but I am so impressed, and so five-steps-removed proud of what has been created.

Don’t worry about not having read the book (although you should definitely read it): they are two different, glorious beasts. Just enjoy your new favourite best-ever TV show. (Too much?)

The Wrong Girl starts this Wednesday at 8:30, on Channel 10.

I’ll be tweeting hard from @zotheysay and perving on all your tweets via #thewronggirl

WOO!

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Responses to this drivel: 20 Comments
08
Sep

I went low FODMAP in Italy and I didn’t break.

Despite my earlier post detailing the finest pizzas and gelato and cheesecakes in Florence, I must confess those magnificent meals were not indicative of my daily diet. They were naughty, delicious pit stops on a food journey through Italy that was primarily – gasp! – lactose, wheat, gluten and fructose free, and where possible, low in FODMAPs.

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Oh no no no, it’s not for any special reason, I just like to make life hard for myself! No: since the start of the year I’ve been sorting out some longstanding gut issues, (I thank Gut, the brilliant book by Giulia Enders for finally urging me to do so; also recommend Brain Maker by David Perlmutter, he of Grain Brain fame) and my gut guy (technical title) recommended I go on the low FODMAP diet to fix them.

At first I was miserable, and confused, hungry and extremely hangry, and then, after time, I figured out what I could eat, and what upset my tum, and how to cook without onion and garlic, and now it’s just a way of life. (Except that it isn’t, because it’s not a forever-diet, it’s a highly restrictive, temporary diet while your gut heals and then you begin re-introducing the problem foods back in. But you know what I mean.)

I feel much better for it, and so armed with a slew of supplements (oregano oil, Bactrex, digestive enzymes… sing if you know the words) I headed to the land of wheat, cheese and fruit.

But here’s what I discovered. You can still eat well and not feel like you are missing out in Italy, even if you have malabsorption issues, or intolerances, are vegan, or have full-blown allergies. The Italians are incredibly progressive in this area, in fact; no one blinks when you make a special request. Except for that one time I asked for Nutella on my omelette.

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I’m not sick, it’s a dietary preference, and I am the furthest thing from an expert on this, but you can click here to read what I learned if it’s of interest. (But not here.)

Responses to this drivel: 4 Comments
03
Aug

Five Total Florence Food Wins.

In a sentence that’s so gross even I’m repulsed: a few years back I lived in Tuscany while writing a novel. When I say ‘lived’, I mean schlepped around from B&B to B&B, from Lucca to San Gimignano, Forte dei Marmi to Florence, for six weeks. But still, it counts for something. Oh no, no, no, you mustn’t call me a local, it’s too much, basta, basta!

Florence swiftly stole my heart, the old dog. That’s its thing! It’s a heart-stealer, an extremely pretty, romantic city boasting an exciting history, art superstars, terrific food, world-class shopping and breathtakingly long queues for nude statues. (Also, in July, far too many tourists, but as one of them, even a local one, I’m not meant to say that.)

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As it happens each time I fall off a plane, I Goog everything from ‘finest Negroni in Florence’ to ‘best gelato in Florence’ to ‘local favourite pizza Florence.’ I need to know what’s best, old and new. If I’m in a city for only a few days, there is no time for a bad meal. They each must be sensational, lest my holiday slip below a 100% perfection rating. (Airports and, yknow, actual travel in general notwithstanding.)

And not a bad meal was had. Click this link to read my favourites, all of which are pretty perfect if you only have a few days/a stomach with a perfectionist complex.

Click this link if you like hearing goats yell like humans.

Responses to this drivel: 1 Comment
06
Jul

Amazinger Face book events!

Let’s celebrate the book,
let’s celebrate beauty,
let’s have something to eat,
then take a cute selfie.

Zoë Foster Blake, 2016

It’s not every day (or even every year) I lovingly inject a new book into the literary bloodstream. As such, I quite enjoy making a big fuss about it with some events, and if at possible, skywriting and ornately dressed elephants in a spectacular procession.

And so, we are doing some Amazinger Face events this July and August. They will be intimate, and fun, and I will chat about beauty and why I wanted to update the book, and there will be nibbles and bubbles (but not squibbles) and you can ask all the beauty questions you want, and I will quickly generate answers that sound vaguely correct and smile a lot so you believe me.

I will be signing copies of Amazinger Face, there will be a Go-To pop-up, (and possibly makeup pop-ups… TBC!) and we have had some delightful free tote bags made that I’m probably a bit too proud of considering they are just tote bags.

There aren’t many events and there are even fewer spaces at said events, so probably book your ticket soon, or don’t and forever feel a gaping, endless hole in your life.

Tickets for all events go on sale tomorrow,
Thursday July 7, at 9am.

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Brunch with Zoë Foster Blake

Date: Saturday July 23, 2016

Time: 9am – 11am

Venue: The Langham Melbourne

Tickets: $45, includes brunch

Bookings: rest.res@langhamhotels.com


Brunch with Zoë Foster Blake

Date: Saturday July 23, 2016

Time: 12pm – 2pm

Venue: The Langham Melbourne

Tickets: $45, includes brunch

Bookings: rest.res@langhamhotels.com

 

Sydney

An intimate Friday Night with Zoë Foster Blake 

Date: Friday July 29, 2016 (omg day after my birthday)

Time: 6pm – 8pm

Venue: The Langham, Sydney

Tickets: $45, bubbles on arrival and sweet nibbles

Bookings:  tlsyd.rsvn@langhamhotels.com
NB: Pre-payment is essential to secure a ticket

 

Sophisticated Saturday Brunch with Zoë Foster Blake

Date: Saturday July 30 2016

Time: 9am – 11am

Venue: The Langham, Sydney

Tickets: $45, tea and coffee on arrival and brunch nibbles

Bookings:  tlsyd.rsvn@langhamhotels.com
NB: Pre-payment is essential to secure a ticket

 

Canberra

 An afternoon with Zoë Foster Blake

Date: Saturday August 6 2016

Time: 2pm – 3:30pm

Venue: Muse, East Hotel, Kingston

Tickets: $25, includes drink on arrival and nibbles

                $65 includes a copy of Amazinger Face, a drink on arrival and canapes

Bookings: Via Muse events

 

 A (later) afternoon with Zoë Foster Blake

Date: Saturday August 6 2016

Time: 4pm – 5:30pm

Venue: Muse, East Hotel, Kingston

Tickets: $25, includes drink on arrival and nibbles

                $65 includes a copy of Amazinger Face, a drink on arrival and canapes

Bookings: Via Muse events

 

Apologies to Perth and Adelaide and Darwin and Brisbane and Wagga and Tamworth. I love you no less than these event cities! I plead (guilty to) scheduling constraints.

To those who book a ticko and come along, I look so forward to seeing you.

To those who don’t book a ticko but do try to sneak in, I applaud your moxie, even if I don’t respect it.

ZFB x

Responses to this drivel: 27 Comments
22
Jun

Recommendnation: Kid’s music that doesn’t suck.

I love recommendations.

I love them for restaurants, and travel spots, and places to swim, and peanut butter brands, and shapewear, and chiropractors, and apps, and hip-hop, and dry shampoo, and books, and movies, and just EVERYTHING.

I thirst for them, I live for them, I inhale them; I need them.

I love being given recommendations, or uncovering them accidentally, or hearing them second-hand even when they’re not for me, and I love writing them down furiously while listening to podcasts. And obviously, since I am a self-important person with access to a blog and social media, I like making recommendations myself.

Not because they are necessarily the best, after all, a recommendation is just an opinion dressed up in hyperbole, but rather to save other people the time and energy and bullshit of researching things that require being in the know (‘where should I eat dinner when I am in Brisbane?’), or overwhelmingly subjective (‘which pram is best?’), or authority (‘which lip balm should I buy?’) or being a bit of a tightarse (‘how can I save money on toilet paper?’)

And so, I wanted to start a specific category of blog post (and sometimes maybe just a social media post) that deals only in recommendations.

I will throw mine up on a topic, and then, since you have the ability to leave comments/your own ideas about what is good and what you like, you get to throw your recommendations down below in the comment tornado.

And so together, we create a living, breathing, dynamic, organic, passionate, authentic recommend… nation. A recommendnation!

What fun! What absolute magic!

Oh, let’s begin already, my heart can hardly take it. Tonight my recommendation concerns:

GOOD KID’S MUSIC.

As a parent you are inevitably and perhaps unfairly thrust into a world of music that you would not, in a child-free existence, toot towards. As a passionate music lover, and the owner of a home that must always have music playing, (Spotify via Sonos, since you asked) I was determined not to listen to music that sucked just cos I had a kid. I would listen to music that was child-friendly, even made for children, but not music that would make me want to stab myself in the knee with a fish knife. I realise it has to be fun for my son to hear and sing along to, but since I am listening too, well, it can’t be shit, basically.

So, it’s Aladdin, it’s Jungle Book, it’s the Muppets, it’s Rockabye Baby, Medeski, Martin and Woods, it’s Caspar BabypantsThe Dream Jam Band, (Nicky Nicky Knock Knock is a terrific song, I don’t care how old you are) and it’s Ralph’s World and Raffi (polarising/daggy but I love) and some Wiggles stuff (I think that Wiggle Town has shades of The Beatles. Yes, I just wrote that.)

Raffi

It’s generally pretty folksy and gentle; easy to have on in the background through the day without feeling like you’re about to eat some cut-up vegemite sandwiches, a squeezy yoghurt then take a nap.

Also we listen to Kinderling radio, mostly in the evening, when it’s cruisy and there are some stories and instrumental stuff to calm mad little bugs down, (I find all the talk during the day annoying). And thank F we do, cos that’s how I discovered The Teeny Tiny Stevies, a couple of Melbourne sisters doing some very good, and very easy to listen to indie-folk music for little people that I find myself singing along to even when the music has stopped, and sometimes even playing when Sonny is not around.  Kind of remind of me of the Whitlams a bit, if anyone remembers those guys. (You will know this song.)

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Here is my Little Kids Spotify playlist. Have a listen, or, don’t. Be sure to list any recommendations for good little kids music below. Be judicious, for the love of Gabba Gabba, be judicious.

Ultimately kids music is just music. If it’s catchy, and good, then I will listen to it. I’m not a genre snob, I just like good music. Whether that’s classical, rock, jazz, rap, pop, EDM or kids: if it’s good, I’ll listen.

Except for death metal. I fucking hate death metal. Sorry.

Responses to this drivel: 37 Comments