All posts by Paula Houseman

My, What Big Ears You Have!

I love Matt Stone and Trey Parker, creators of South Park. I love their warped humour and their characters—foul-mouthed, politically incorrect bunch of yobs!

I admire Stone and Parker’s ability to satirise.

Apparently, I do a bang-up job of this myself, according to an Amazon Hall of Fame reviewer. She said it had been a really long time since she’d read good satire, and she ‘simply adored’ my book, Odyssey in a Teacup (Book 1 in the Ruth Roth Series).

I was chuffed, but I hadn’t thought of myself as a satirist. I thought I was just writing humour, Aussie style: taking the piss out of everything is one of our favourite pastimes. Then again, when you think that so much about life is stupid, it’s hard to resist sending it up.

Anyway, because most of my characters are parodies, I decided to commission a caricature of myself and add it to the cover images of all my social media accounts. Ha, ha, ha.

But now, it seems, the joke’s on me.

As we get older, our nose supposedly gets wider, our chin gets longer, our ears get bigger. I’m starting to look like that caricature and my Maker is laughing. Oh yeah, ha, ha, ha!

The Sag Awards

Occasionally, I’ll stand in front of my sometimes-bitchy mirror and push my droopy basset-hound jowls upwards. It reminds me of the way I used to look; makes me ask myself what can I do about this?

Well, there are lots of options. Many involve going under the knife. There’s also a heap of non-surgical approaches like dermal fillers, botox, etcetera. But I dare say none of these procedures is as painful as the process of self-acceptance.

Still, if I do decide to ‘alter’, why not go the whole hog? As above, so below. Top ’n’ tail. Yep. A face lift and a … vaginaplasty?

No way, José!

So, maybe a collagen boost for the lips and lips. An injection for the upper; vontouring for the lower.

Vontouring is the treatment du jour for a saggy twat. Non-surgical, laser vaginal tightening?

Nope, again. Should I consider opting for a vajaycial, then—a kind of facial for the vagina?

Nope to that too. No one’s going anywhere near my vajayjay with a vacuum glass, pore cleaner or a micro-exfoliator—I can barely weather a speculum.

A Stitch in Time

Self-improvement is different for everyone. And far be it from me to judge others for wanting to do what makes them feel good. The shift in appearance that comes with getting older is made so much harder for us women with the endless, subliminal body-shaming that fills the airwaves. And although I’ve been hostage to social mores at times, there’s no rhyme or reason to much of it.

There was, however, a reason for my rhyming when, as a member of an online writers’ community, I used to submit poetry. Mostly, it was because I was too bloody lazy to come up with short stories. But maybe it was because the power of poetry cuts deeper than a scalpel can.

By No Stretch

So, when the body-shaming tries to have its way with me in a weak moment, I can look back on this particular poem I wrote:

 

Just slide your numbing stent inside my vein,

And knock me out to make me young anew,

As botoxed brow and hoisted chops regain

a mirror casting back a luscious view

 

Two silicon balloons … augment my chest!

Please liposuck my dimpled thighs and hips.

With tummy tuck, my blubber you’ll divest,

Then give me JLo’s arse and Jolie’s lips

 

A cougar I’ll still be, but who would know —

my spandexed bod will surely hide the facts?

… Oh wait … inflation tends to reach a low,

And skintight stretching ends up looking lax

 

On second thoughts, it seems that I’ve been blind:

You have to wear a mask but mine’s not writ.

I’m outta here, I think I’ve changed my mind,

’Cause when it’s lost I’ll hardly give a shit.

 

At the end of the day, even if I haven’t lost my mind, I’d rather look at a caricatured version of my younger self in the mirror than a version I don’t recognise.

 

This was originally written as a guest post (Not A Big Stretch) for https://overtherainbowbookblog.wordpress.com

 

Utter Clutter Nutter

I mess. Yyeah, baby!

But wait up … that doesn’t mean I’m a slob/slug/layabout/slack-arse. I’m not. It’s just that once you have kids, any sense of structure, order, and control goes down the crapper.

Pre-ankle-biter days, I was anal retentive. Example: the bathroom of our very first house had a stainless-steel rim around the porcelain hand basin. Water spots on that shiny metal lip were verboten. My injunction didn’t cause any friction between hubby and me because he was an accountant, a neat-freak who colour coded the pegs when he hung the washing.

But in the early stages of parenthood, when he had to hang cloth nappies and mini-onesies, there wasn’t a whole lot of energy left for military precision. By the time we got to toddlerhood, we would have both been dishonourably discharged.

The Lore of My Jungle

Now, all these years on, I’ve found new reasons to keep up the chaos. Nine of them:

  1. My messy place was custom-designed by my kids. They’ve long since flown the nest, but I’m nostalgic. I’m reluctant to rearrange the twigs, leaves and feathers
  2. I have seven episodes of whatev I need to see on Netflix. Spruce up or watch TV? It’s a rhetorical question
  3. I have a bone in my leg
  4. A perfectly clean house is a sign of a misspent life
  5. Women with tidy houses don’t get important shit done
  6. Women with tidy houses rarely make history. And by God, I’m determined to leave my mark … a more indelible one than water spots on stainless steel
  7. Fifty Shades of Grey has become a synonym for success. I want that level of success (only, with quality writing). Still, my process is disorganised. I’m a pantser, not a plotter. So, the working title for all my books has been Fifty Shades of Look Who Did It and Ran. It had to sound real, which meant the research involved was akin to method-acting, you know, cultivating the experience
  8. I’m subversive. ‘Don’t edit your manuscript till the very end,’ they say. I edit as I go. ‘Tidy as you go,’ they say. I wait till the very end. Then again, I don’t subscribe to linear time; I respect circular time—no beginning, no end
  9. I like to keep up with the times, and apparently cluttered is the new clean*

Shiftless Technology

All of the above notwithstanding, when my place is tidy, even if it doesn’t last long, it makes me feel good. So, modern woman that I am, and as an author who thinks outside the box, I tried turning to my Google Home Mini for help.

Google Assistant is happy to tell me the time and current temperature when I ask for it. She also offers a whole lot of unsolicited, useless information. But she gave me attitude when I asked her to straighten up my apartment. Her response: ‘Let me try’—shimmery, sparkly, fairy sound—‘Did anything happen? Sorry, I guess I can’t.’

Lazy bitch!

Then again, maybe she’s not lazy. Maybe her developers programmed her with a tough love sentiment. In other words, to not rescue her users, but instead, to encourage them to find another way. Now that is the nature of creativity. And creativity is a messy process. See. We’ve come full circle!

For those of you who don’t consider yourselves creative, think again. Maybe you’re not a writer, artist, actor, singer or musician, but the I-don’t-have-a-creative-bone-in-my-body won’t wash. Living in itself is a creative process.

On Superlative Shitshows!

You’d never get through the day if you couldn’t problem-solve. And God knows life is unpredictable and challenging and full of curve-balls. Ways to do things can stop working, and what worked yesterday won’t work today. No one knows this better than a parent.

And like me, your children might have left home, but you need to ensure your inner child hasn’t. Without mine, I couldn’t write. Or laugh. Or experiment. Or trust or be curious and open to new experiences. Or be flexible. It’s like playing in the mud again. Messy joy.

There’s one more reason—and probably the best I can think of—to celebrate disorderliness/mishmash/omnishambles/dog’s dinner … or whatever you want to call it: apparently the chronically messy are intelligent.

That makes me a frickin’ genius! Are you …?

 

*https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/cluttered-is-the-new-clean-10-truths-all-messy-people-know-231816

This was originally written as a guest post (The Lore of My Jungle) for B-Gina™ Review https://bginareview.wordpress.com/2018/09/28/author-guest-post-the-lore-of-my-jungle-by-author-of-cupid-fcks-up/ An affiliate member of B-Gina™ Creations, B-Gina™ Review is an online literary journal 

 

A Novel Thing? Hardly

Do you have fictional character crushes? Do you finish a book and feel a little bereft, even if it has a happily-ever-after ending?  Do you get lost in the male protagonist with his six-foot plus of hot model gorgeousness? His chiselled jawline, strong cleft chin, Cupid’s-bow lips, and brown puppy-dog eyes; his toned and taut buns ’n’ guns, buff pecs and ripped abs?

Then spare a thought for us authors.

You get to move on to the next BILF in another book. But we’re stuck with our creation in what can feel like the worst case of unrequited love. It’s why my books have turned into a series. That above-description—it’s Ralph, my lead male character. And I can’t get him out of my head.

The Pull of Celebrity

Oh, I have the odd moment, you know, when I look at my husband. And he’ll look at me the same way. But the moment’s gone, just like that—pfft—when he says, ‘Pull my finger.’

You see, this is why I’m hooked on Ralph, why I hanker for him, why I wouldn’t climb over him in bed to get to hubby.

And it’s just one reason why we girls crush on book characters. Or celebrity-worship. There are many others:

  1. Fictional leading men don’t belch like a chainsaw
  2. They don’t pick out their belly-button lint and drop it in the indoor plants
  3. They don’t stand in front of an open fridge calling out, ‘I can’t see the cheese!’ And they don’t cut it
  4. They don’t drink orange juice straight out of the container
  5. They don’t scratch their nuts
  6. They don’t leave the seat up (because they don’t even go to the toilet)
  7. They don’t pick their noses and flick the contents willy-nilly, or scatter toenail clippings on the carpet
  8. They don’t hoik phlegm (loudly)
  9. They don’t check their text messages while you’re talking to them
  10. They don’t refuse to ask for directions
  11. And they don’t yell at the footy ref on TV, ‘Oh what was that?! Make a call, ya fuckwit!’

Ugly-Arse Home Truth

This inventory of gnarly habits that our non-fictional leading men have, does it sound cliché? Does it look like I googled it? Yes, it does, and no, I didn’t. My research is close to home, so to speak. Thanks heaps, Hubs and Dad.

When I was little, my mother told me my father had been raised by une paire de singes—a pair of monkeys. And where Mills & Boon became her drug of choice, I accepted her explanation for his behaviour. But it stopped making sense after I got married: my husband was raised by a pair of self-respecting humans. So …

It seems men are just hardwired as yobs. And women are hardwired with a certain je ne sais quoi. Finesse, shall we say? We might well have a potty-mouth, but we won’t leave skid marks. (Although, some women’s public lavs can leave one wondering, and hoping it’d been a shit-faced bunch of blokes who’d mistaken it for the men’s room and then let loose in there.)

Keeping It Reel

All things considered, for me it’s a double-edged sword because I admire the real. Writing ‘real’ and with depth is my stock-in-trade. But as a starry-eyed teen, I’d interpreted ‘he’s a real man’ as he’s a guy with ample testosterone—deep voice, decent muscle mass, a nice smattering of body hair (not like a gorilla, though), a good libido. I hadn’t factored the other stuff into what constitutes a real man.

We become more feet-on-the-ground as we get older, but the idea of the dreamy one still hangs about. And even though I think fairy tales are bollocks, when too much reality gets tired, a yearning calls from the depth: Please—please—just give me the goddamn storybook man!

And so, Ralph was conceived. He’s real-ish inasmuch as he has his foibles. I even had him vomiting a couple of times, although that’s where I drew the line. I foisted those rubbish tendencies on my other male characters, but I wanted to humanise Ralph, not make a monkey out of him.

. . . .

My girlfriends and I sometimes compare notes about our real-life men:

‘You’re not gonna believe what mine did! He blah blah blah …’

‘Oh, hon, I can go you one better!’

Sounds like a pissing contest, no? A male preoccupation—not the sort of thing fictional female protagonists do. Well, we’re not fictional. We’re real women. Could it be, then, that we women and our husbands are well-matched? Ugh!

*This was originally written as a guest post (‘Crushing [on] Celebrity’) for Chat About Books, Kerry Parsons’ book blog site: https://chataboutbooks.wordpress.com

Is a Beta Better?

They say there’s a new man in town. I say his days are numbered!

A stereotype called the beta-male is roaming the streets. Unlike a former holder of the post, the alpha-hole, Mr Beta is not cruising to pick up a one-night stand. Mr Beta has likely got a leash in his fist with a yappy toy poodle attached to the other end of it, dragging him along.

Where the alpha-hole—he of the chiselled jawline and sculpted body—inhabits bodice-ripping, historical or Mills & Boon novels, Mr namby-pamby Beta mostly inhabits clean and wholesome/sweet romances. A genre that allows maybe the odd kiss, but no kissy-kissy: Hands-off, no foreplay.

Kinda reads like a children’s book, no? And yet, this genre is growing in popularity. Do lots of modern women, then, want chasteness restored? Are women wanting to grow back their hymens?

COME ON!

Sorry, it’s like saying sex is unnatural; like saying sex is a dirty word (and you can’t use any of these either in clean and wholesome).

Well, I say, gimme dirty, baby, baby! You know, like in the movies. Go ahead and leave a trail of clothes strewn here and there—jeans, T, bra and panties discarded haphazardly. Go ahead and knock the tchotchkes off the side table en route to the bedroom. But …

When you remove my bodice, would you mind very much not ripping it? And can you please make sure that the stuff you knock off the furniture is unbreakable? I’ve probably forked out a shitload for the threads and knick-knacks, so can we just leave them intact?

Hasta La Vista, A-Holes!

These demands do not speak to the alpha-hole, who, in all likelihood, lost some leverage when female protagonists grew balls and started wearing power suits.

It would have been around this time that beta-man gained a foothold because a woman on top needs a counterpoise.

Oh, beta’s animal instincts might prevail and he could well drag ballsy chick off to the bedroom. But he’d likely stop to pick up and fold each item of discarded clothing along the way. Before long, he’d become pussy-whipped. It follows that she’d get bored with him.

Ostensibly, then, her perfect match would be the alpha-male. A nice balance between the two aforementioned male stereotypes, he seems the perfect man for all women. But is he?

Cutting the Cookie-Cutter

There are some variations in what constitutes alpha and beta-blokes. Here’s the thing, though. They’re constructed along the lines of the fairy-tale framework with its cardboard cut-out characters. And that’s the trouble with stereotypes.

They’re continually revised and cleansed versions of the preceding one, with the original—the archetype—buried under it all. And the new and ‘improved’ versions can lack substance, or don’t display much of it.

Personally, beta doesn’t do it for me. I don’t want the kind of male character I feel the need to breastfeed. And alpha-male? Warrior. Stand-up guy. James Bond-ish. Knight in shining armour. Probably doesn’t fart. Well, I do, so I’d feel un-alpha and inadequate against him. Anyway, I don’t need someone to rescue me.

The A-Z of Male Protagonists

Some of the male characters in my books are alpha-holes, alpha and beta-males. But they’re caricatures to draw attention to the idiocy of defining people by a limited bunch of traits.

My male lead, on the other hand, is so much more because, like in the earliest uncut stories—the Greek myths—I want a complete person. Not a barbarian who acts on all raw thoughts, feelings and impulses, of course. But one who can admit to these aspects of character that moralism has shamed us for even having.

So. You can keep your alpha-holes and your alpha and beta-males. I want the whole bloody alphabet. Give me an alpha-beta-gamma-delta-epsilon-zêta-êta-thêta-iota-kappa-lambda-mu-nu-xi-omikron-pi-rho-sigma-tau-upsilon-phi-chi-psi-omega man!

Complicated? Maybe. But real, and that much more interesting.

 

*This was originally written as a guest post (‘The ABC’s of Male Characters’) for Jess: reader, writer, blogger, reviewer from Jess Bookish Life—https://jessbookishlife.wordpress.com/

* Check out Mr Real’s counterpart, Ms Real, in an earlier post—https://paulahouseman.com/female-protagonist

 

Paula Houseman’s Odyssey in a Teacup takes readers along with protagonist, Ruth Roth, on a brilliantly crafted, classic hero’s journey. From her initial stirrings, awakenings, and blaring Call to Adventure, through her protracted Initiation of descents and dashings upon the rocks (during which phase Ruth’s internal “bullshit detector” becomes a well-oiled, exquisitely adept machine), to her ultimate, victorious Return to the Self, Ruth encounters and defeats a series of soul-sucking harpies, who time and again try to bite off more than they can chew.

The decided “black sheep” of her family, the ruthlessly undermining treatment Ruth endures as a child is almost too terrible to see … Almost. If it were not for Houseman’s brazen wit, keen understanding of the ancient, universal forces at work in the very roots of humanity, and magnificently bawdy humor, Ruth Roth’s Odyssey would be little more than a lonely trek. Instead, in the very first chapter, when Ruth triumphs in an unfortunate, embarrassing modern-day encounter with a “Cyclops”, we rush to back our champion with an unprecedented resolve—never leaving her side for the duration—and we are rewarded over and over with wretchedly wonderful, belly-shaking laughter, and liberating tears.

Houseman resurrects from the darkness (of fundamental, moralistic terrorism) the human soul, which we learn as children to regard as too grotesque as to be worthy of sight. In relating one such example of our conditioned belief in the shamefulness of our own humanity, she astutely observes the collective sentiment, “A cloud passed in front of the sun as if to stop it from seeing. Even nature was mortified”. But as the story progresses, such sentiments prove to be nothing more than our fearful, self-defeating human projections onto Nature, and Houseman’s heroine shines brightly—with moxie, and with the categorical approval of the gods and goddesses—in the sun.

Paula Houseman writes with all the verve, aplomb, and wisdom lauded of veteran authors. With rare authenticity and vigor, Houseman reveals the formative events of Ruth Roth’s life in a series of vignettes that infuse the pandemonium of Jackson Pollock expressionism with the clarity of purpose of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. We sense in each instance that Ruth ought to be asking herself, incredulously, How can this be my life? How can Nature permit another day of this existence to unfold? We feel we ought to avert our eyes, but we are captivated by a truth which strikes close to home for us, because it so aptly mirrors that most basic of human truths: we are not born knowing how to recognize, much less question, the aberrations of dysfunctional family life, as they comprise our normal experience.

Yet, despite the mythical monsters’ best efforts to thwart her, Ruth Roth prevails as our champion. She becomes our mouthpiece, articulating for us the question that has always been lurking there, beneath the living room’s imitation woodgrain wallpaper, by exposing the fantastic lie that has surreptitiously enlisted our complicity in maintaining others’ fragile illusions at the expense of our realities.

Odyssey in a Teacup is epically defiant, bold, painful, hilarious, soul-fortifying, and a must-read for anyone who has ever dared (or hoped) to look at themselves in the mirror and ask the question, How in the hell have I survived?

— Stephanie L. Harper, author

Paula Houseman’s Odyssey in a Teacup is an inspiring, funny story of an Australian woman’s journey, or rather, a series of journeys of self-discovery that will resonate with women—particularly those of the baby boomer era.

Odyssey in a Teacup’s main character, Ruth Roth (single syllables, deprived of a middle name) takes us through the ups and downs, madcap recollections and zany characters she encounters from a young age. You find yourself laughing aloud at some of the hilarious situations to which any woman can relate.

From an early age, Ruth struggles to deal with an overbearing, mordant mother, Sylvia, and a flatulent father, Joe, who diminish her confidence by telling her she’s a ‘mistake’, because she was conceived just two months after her brother was born. And as a girl, Ruth’s not encouraged to aspire to anything more than finding a nice Jewish boy to marry. The diminution of her spirit is further compounded by a bitchy mirror that slaps her down at every opportunity, as well as bullying doctors, teachers, colleagues, and cousins.

Ruth’s cousin Ralph Brill (also single syllables, no middle name—but he “doesn’t give a shit”) and her two close friends, Maxi and Vette, are her mainstay, while her irreverent humour, smart mouth and canniness also keep her buoyant, even though they sometimes get her into trouble.

Inevitably, the unpleasant people and disastrous experiences she has to contend with during her odysseys see her develop a number of phobias, not least cacomorphobia (a fear of morbidly obese people), and an insidious dread of Sundays, when as far as Ruth’s concerned, God invariably goes AWOL.

Ruth realises her life closely resembles a Greek tragicomedy, and with a passion for ancient mythology, it’s little wonder she relays her story through an anthology of Greek myths, identifying with the ancient gods—not least Baubo, the hideous goddess of bawdiness, who she comes to acknowledge as her protagonist.

Ruth does eventually marry a nice Jewish boy and has two children, Hannah and Casper. At first, she revels in their spirited personalities and irreverence, yet at the same time she struggles with disapproving teachers and the ubiquitous competitiveness of other mothers, causing her to regress and her confidence crumble. Until a disastrous function becomes the panacea when she finally recognises she needs to change course and begin a new journey—alone. But just as her latest odyssey begins, something happens that changes everything …

Odyssey in a Teacup is an uplifting, hilarious, yet at times, sobering story of how bias, religious and superstitious mores, bullying and self-doubt can hinder personal growth, but also how the love of close friends, a sense of humour, and above all, determination can help us to embark on new adventures throughout our life.

— Sally Asnicar

Another Ruth Roth journey through the pitfalls of love, with all the twists and turns we’ve come to expect from this author.

I really loved Apoca[hot]lips because I recognised the type of characters and some of the hilarious situations we get ourselves into. It had me turning the pages to see if things could get any worse, or any funnier! This is a laugh out loud book, and it puts love and romance right where it belongs—on the funny shelf.

—Suzi Braddic

‘Paula Houseman is at it again—wielding her razor-sharp wit in Apoca[hot]lips, a romantic comedy with twists and turns! Unputdownable.’

—Gabriella Kovac, Bestselling author.

 

In Apoca[hot]lips, Paula Houseman’s second book, Ruth’s relationship with her ‘cousin’ Ralph is tenuous. She seems to be paralysed by baggage, unable to take the final plunge towards happiness.

Ralph has become consumed by the search for his birth mother, and focuses on building a relationship that threatens to torpedo the one he has with the woman he loves.

Meanwhile, Ruth has to contend with her suffocating mother, a loathsome neighbour, and various other repugnant characters who are seemingly drawn into her life just to torment her. Is God taking the piss?
As Ruth becomes distracted by other pivotal events in the family, she and Ralph struggle to reconcile the changes in each of their lives. Can they find their way back to each other?

Paula’s intelligent, unique writing style and hilarious wit make this an absolute pleasure to read. Touching and thoughtfully written, you will cry – although I guarantee most of those tears will be from hilarity than heartbreak. If you enjoyed Odyssey in a Teacup, you will love Apoca[hot]lips!

—Sally Asnicar

I am delighted to be chatting today with Paula Houseman. Paula was once a graphic designer. But when the temptation to include ‘the finger’ as part of a logo for a forward-moving women’s company proved too much, she knew it was time to give away design. Instead, she took up writing. She found she was a natural with the double entendres.

Could you tell us about yourself?

I’m a first-generation Australian. My parents were Jewish and born in Egypt. But because their parents were from Europe, they weren’t granted citizenship and they remained stateless. So, when they immigrated to Australia, belongingness became a priority. It was in the days before Australia had become a multicultural society and it wasn’t easy for them. My mother was a staid walking cliché and struggled to live the Australian way; my father thought he was living it because he could fart the national anthem. And that background laid the foundations for a mother of an identity crisis, and a life that played out like the blueprint for Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s South Park—funny to watch, maybe; not so funny to be a character in it. Still, it’s provided some awesome raw materials for writing.

When did you first decide to write and what got you started?

As a baby boomer, I grew up at a time when the catchphrase ‘Children should be seen and not heard’ still held sway (‘Children’ meant girls). I was feisty and had plenty to say that didn’t align with my parents’ adopted views. And because I also laughed at inappropriate times, I was often in trouble. It got to the point where shutting up was easier. But it was unhealthy—a wild child shouldn’t be tamed. And can’t. So I started to write in a personal journal. That was 27 years ago. And as I slowly retrieved my lost voice and uncovered ideas I didn’t even know I had, I expressed them through essays at university. My unconventional views were respected, and that gave me the courage to expand my audience—first, through an online community for poets and writers, then through my books and blogs.

Do you plot your stories or do you write and see where it takes you?

I don’t plot my stories; I’m a pantser. I let my characters lead me … astray.

Do you have any inspirations for you writing? Other authors / people / events?

Other authors inspire me:

If I’m completely engrossed in a book I’m reading, I’ll ask myself what ideas and writing techniques are engaging me. In particular, I love twists and turns. It’s not a distinctive feature of the humour genre in which I write, but I tend to integrate the unexpected into my stories, although, not consciously. I recently came across an article in Writer’s Digest by author Steven Kohlhagen, who sounds a bit like a fellow pantser. His take perfectly sums up my writing approach. He says, ‘I don’t create surprising twists. I create interesting characters and put them in tough or scary or romantic situations. The characters then deal with those situations in ways that I never suspect. In other words, they write the books. They create the surprising twists. I don’t.’

People and events also inspire me:

Mostly, revisiting memories from my ridiculous past. Writing has helped me defuse the situations that seemed tragic at the time. It’s also resuscitated my natural ability to see the comedy in the tragedy. So, the thing that often got me into trouble as a kid is now my stock-in-trade.

Us readers would love to know more about The Ruth Roth series of books. Will there be a third?

The off-the-wall Ruth Roth series comprises three books: Book 1, Odyssey in a Teacup, is a coming-of-age story that falls into the original incarnation of the chick lit genre (à la Bridget Jones’s Diary). Book 2, originally Apoca[hot]lips, has just been retitled Cupid F*cks Up (because he does). And Book 3, scheduled for release in July 2018, is My T(r)oyboy is a Twat (because he is). Books 2 and 3—stand-alones—are romantic comedies.

My style is a little Monty Pythonesque. And it thrills me no end that my name’s been mentioned in the same breath as satirical novelist Carl Hiaasen, and that Ruth Roth has been likened to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum!

What is the best part about writing?

I can lose myself in it, but I also find myself in it.

My parents were lost souls because their primary focus was the pursuit of a social identity. I had trouble fitting in because I was never at home in or cared about any man-made social category: race, ethnicity, religion, class, gender. And hard as that was, I guess it turned out to be a blessing. The innate desire to belong somewhere led me to question my place in the world. I did that through writing. And I started to understand that writing is the perfect fit because it’s where I can be all of me.

The logical progression was an inspired choice of course at university, where I learnt about the archetypes of our essential humanness that are found in ancient myths. The characters in these raw stories personify every aspect of the human psyche—breathe life into and celebrate each one: the fabulous, the horrible and everything in between. It’s helped me to write unashamedly; to let my protagonist express immoral thoughts and feelings. And I think the realness of that is what connects us. It also gets us applauded instead of locked up.

What is the worst part about writing?

Being taken into the darkest recesses of soul through the writing process is hard. But the worst part of writing is the pre-publication stuff and promotion—that’s hell. I’m a writer, not a marketer.

Your character describes you as “putting her through hell and that she hates you” WOW, what horrendous things have you put her through?

My character hates me because I refuse to structure her life story as a fairy tale! My stories don’t follow the typical romance formula. There’s a minor thread of ancient mythology running through the books, which means my protagonist has to experience what it means to be fully human. I know that readers like happily ever after, and there is that. But it’s more a feet-on-the-ground HEA than an idealistic fairy-tale one. This kind can lead to feelings of hopelessness because life is just not like that. Except on Facebook. Many people are living the dream on Facebook.

So, much as I hate clichés, I keep telling my protagonist what my mother would’ve said: ‘It’s for your own good!’

You describe Aussie humour as tongue-in-cheek and lippy, can you give us some examples?

We have a dry, ironic and self-deprecating humour. One of the funniest examples I can think of was when Pizza Hut launched the cheese-stuffed pizza crust in Australia. There was a billboard just outside of Sydney airport with a picture of a stuffed crust pizza and a caption that read, ‘Welcome to Sydney. Now go and get stuffed.’

Personally, I thought it was a brilliant bit of marketing. But it caused quite a controversy, so it wasn’t there for long—Boo!

On the subject of humour do you have any favourite Aussie comedians?

Not my favourites, but surely the best: The prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and the leader of the opposition, Bill Shorten. A pair of clowns.

What do you love most about being Aussie and if you could choose to live anywhere (let’s make that in Oz) where would that be?

We Aussies are a friendly bunch. I think being surrounded by nature helps. I love being close to the beach and if I could live elsewhere, it’d be the Sunshine Coast. But if Hawaii should ever decide to secede from the US and become Australia’s seventh state, I’d be on the first plane.

I love talking about Australia as you can see, can you tell us some quirky facts about Down Under that non-Aussies would not be aware of?

Profanity has a natural place in the Aussie lexicon (so I’m living the Australian way, Mum and Dad).
Wombat shit is cube-shaped.
Three hundred female convicts mass-mooned the governor of Tasmania in 1832 (we Aussie chicks could argue this was the precursor for the women’s rights movement).

Note: It’s likely many Aussies wouldn’t be aware of these facts. Nos. 2 and 3 were news to me.

Do you have a message for all The Flat Earth twats that say Australia does NOT exist?

Yep. Up yours, tossers! (I expect no blowback from these twats because if Australia doesn’t exist, then neither you nor I exist. So, it follows that these questions and answers are non-existent.)

How important do you think social media is for an author?

I think a presence on social media is important for authors inasmuch as it can help us grow our brand and promote our books. But it can be a double-edged sword. The algorithms are designed to encourage quantity over quality, and that leads to superficiality over depth and artificiality over realness. These are dangerous for a writer because they can dumb you down, impair the imagination and stymie creativity

Who are your favourite authors?

I write humour, but I love reading a good whodunnit. Faves are David Baldacci (Amos Decker series), Lee Child (Jack Reacher series), Harlan Coben (Myron Bolitar series), Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller series) and Sandra Brown (who combines murder, mystery and romance). And Roger Bray books are beckoning!