Laura Greaves reveals why her heroines are feistier versions of herself.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a bold statement: every chick lit heroine is a version of the author who created her. I call porky pies on writers who say their protagonists are nothing like them. We all infuse our characters with elements of ourselves – whether that’s ourselves as we really are or as we wish we were.
Both are true for me. The heroine of my first novel, Be My Baby, is Anna Harding, an Australian journalist who lives in London and works as a newspaper gossip columnist. That was me. Anna’s best friend falls pregnant unexpectedly and asks Anna to be her baby’s godmother. That happened to me, too. Anna is also a runner who has an unhealthy shoe addiction and a boyfriend who takes a job in another city without telling her. Me, me, me!
In my new novel, The Ex-Factor, the heroine, Kitty Hayden, is a certified Crazy Dog Lady – as am I. She lives on Sydney’s Northern Beaches – so do I. She runs her own business – I do, too!
Of course, things happen to Anna and Kitty that never happened to me – namely Anna being left to look after her infant goddaughter when her BFF does a runner, and Kitty being swept off her feet by a movie star. (Yes, sadly I was forced to imagine all of that.) And crucially, both women possess personality traits that I do not – but sincerely wish I did.
I admit it – I live vicariously through my leading ladies. I relish making them say and do things that I’d never have the guts to say or do. Both Kitty and Anna are feisty. They’re assertive and have no trouble standing up for themselves when they feel they’re being treated poorly. My heroines don’t fear others’ anger or disapproval. Indeed, Kitty’s relationship with movie star Mitchell Pyke begins after she slaps him for being disrespectful!
I wish I could say I’m the same, but I’m really not. All my life, I’ve struggled to be assertive; the a-words more suited to me would probably be ‘always accommodating’ and ‘able to be exploited.’ But hey, we’re all works in progress, right?!
I tend to give my heroines exasperating siblings and ever-present best friends, too. Anna has a straight-talking neighbour, Jen, while Kitty has a younger sister, Frankie, and a devoted friend, Adam. I’m an only child, and while I’m perfectly happy with that, I’m endlessly fascinated by sibling relationships. And I’m lucky enough to have close friends all around the world, but I really feel the absence of a bestie who can pop over at a moment’s notice – so I’d never deny my fictional females one of those!
It’s not just the big things – temperament, values, beliefs – where my characters reflect me. It’s the practical and material stuff, too. They wear the things I wear – Anna’s tatty but much-loved Van Halen T-shirt is an example. In Be My Baby, Anna lives in a gorgeous Victorian terrace house in posh Richmond-Upon-Thames. I lived in a cosy terrace down the road in slightly less well-to-do Twickenham, so I figured I’d have Anna live where I couldn’t afford to! Similarly, Kitty lives in a spacious weatherboard cottage in beachside Narrabeen. I also live in a characterful home not far away, but I am a sucker for weatherboards. For now, Kitty gets to live where I hope to someday!
And, naturally, my heroines and I have uncannily similar taste in men. Anna’s sexy neighbour, Luke, is a dead ringer for my husband, while Helena’s beau, Oliver, is heavily tattooed – I’m partial to a bit of ink myself. Hunky movie star Mitchell, meanwhile, loves B-grade horror movies and has really impeccable taste in jewellery. What woman – fictional or flesh and blood – wouldn’t go for a guy like that?!
Talented, gorgeous and hopelessly in love, American movie star Mitchell Pyke and Brazilian supermodel Vida Torres were Hollywood’s most talked-about couple. They seemed destined for ‘happily ever after’ – until Vida left Mitchell for his best friend, and Mitchell publicly vowed he would never love again.
Sydney dog trainer Kitty Hayden has never even heard of Mitchell Pyke. Still reeling from the loss of her mother, Kitty is too busy cleaning up the various messes made by her indolent younger sister, Frankie, and trying to find a girlfriend for her terminally single best friend, Adam, to keep up with celebrity gossip.
When her work takes Kitty to Mitchell’s movie set, their worlds spectacularly collide. The chemistry between them is undeniable – and it’s not long before Kitty is turning her life upside down to be with her leading man. But as Kitty quickly discovers, when someone as famous as Mitchell Pyke tells the world he’ll never love again, the world listens. And the vindictive Vida is never far away. With constant reminders that she’s merely a consolation prize, how can Kitty compete with such a tenacious adversary – especially when she starts to suspect that Mitchell isn’t over Vida after all?
Laura Greaves is the author of The Ex-Factor and Be My Baby (both published by Penguin/Destiny Romance). Born and raised in Adelaide, South Australia, at 17 Laura landed a journalism cadetship with Adelaide’s daily newspaper, The Advertiser. In 2001, her work as the paper’s Youth Affairs Reporter earned her both the South Australian and National Young Journalist of the Year Awards. Next, she did what so many young Aussies do and moved to London for a year – but accidentally stayed for five. Many of Laura’s experiences in the UK, including working as an entertainment reporter for several London newspapers and becoming (a somewhat inept) godmother to a close friend’s baby daughter, helped to inspire her first novel, Be My Baby. London also provided Laura with a dashing English husband, and together they moved to Sydney in 2007. She worked as a book publicist and editor of a women’s magazine before striking out as a freelance journalist in 2009. As well as continuing to write for many of Australia’s best-known magazines, Laura now spends her time matchmaking feisty fictional women with irresistibly sexy leading men.