Author Interview with Moya Kate

This week we had the fabulous opportunity to interview a new Aussie author, Moya Kate. Moya will be launching her new book Mama Couture on May 2nd and took the time from her very hectic schedule to chat to us about her life, her writing and of course, shoes.

We also gain a little bit of an insight into Mama Couture and some of the inspiration for this wonderful book. If you want to read a review and know the details of the launch feel free to check out our previous blog post: http://www.alturl.com/gaapv

I hope you enjoy this interview as much as we did, and enjoy Moya’s book even more!

If you would like to read our review of Mama Couture, click here: https://tlcbooks.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/mama-couture-by-moya-kate/

Thank you Moya.

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As this is your debut as an author, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I grew up in Brisbane and have worked and travelled overseas as so many young Aussies do. And even though I’ve had so many opportunities, I have to say that the working at the Qld Writers’ Centre was the most interesting experience to-date. I had the privilege of meeting so many great Queensland writers there and they were all committed to their craft, lovely to be around, and down-to-earth. I certainly don’t believe in the creative mystique anymore. But having said that, I think I dedicated my entire 20s – not to my career – but to developing my voice because it’s really important that writers offer an alternate view, and an alternate voice, to the mainstream.

I have two business degrees. I love the visual arts, am addicted to fashion, deeply troubled by the state of the world and read everything from fiction to Development Economics. Writing allows me to combine all of my obsessions – and all the research that went into Mama Couture has made me a better parent too. So I think I’m on the right path.

Being a mother of four gorgeous children, is any of Mama Couture based on you?

The main character, Til Fisher, works for an Australian fashion label and has this fabulous wardrobe.  She’s also determined, loyal, caring and capable.  Who wouldn’t want to be her? But she’s not me. I can say that a lot of life experiences have gone into the book but it’s not based on me.  The first scene I wrote was Til’s labour scene and it was very different to my experience.  I realised then that I was working with a fictional character but I didn’t know who she was so I set out to find out.  I started at the beginning of the character’s story, which most naturally seemed to be conception, and kept writing.

It makes me incredibly happy to be able to share Mama Couture with other people and for Til’s story to become a little part of all of us. I think that’s nicer than this being just one person’s story. Reality can be really lonely, can’t it?

You’re well known for your blog; The World’s Best Raising Kids Blog (by the world’s worst mum), how different is the creative process for writing a novel compared to writing on your blog?

It’s really hard to develop and realise an idea in a short blog. Blogs are probably harder than fiction for me. I love writing the blogs but the blogs take me away from writing fiction and being a published author gives me other opportunities – like more shoe shopping. Which leads to more ideas for creative writing and then my kids do something funny and I want to blog about it. And I do use creative license with my blogs. I guess that’s why they say there’s no such thing as history: it’s all just blogging before they invented blogging.

Your character Till Fisher has a life a lot of women would love to live, Was it fun writing a character who leads such a glamorous life?

And I was writing it at a time when my life was at its least glamorous. I had two kids in under a year, and I seriously thought I was never going to go shopping in Paris or wear high heels again. I was covered in baby vomit and often would find myself brushing my teeth and hair at 6pm – for the first time that day.

No wonder I wrote about a glamorous character. But pretty soon she has her fall from grace. Pretty soon she’s vomiting and not fitting into her clothes either. It happens to us all eventually. So I wouldn’t say it was fun, but cathartic. If a mum’s having a bad day, she can read Mama Couture and realise if Til can be jetting off to Paris and her baby is only nine months old, then there’s hope for all of us.

Your novel is fiction, but can some of the mother and business advice be taken as non-fiction?

Definitely. Women don’t only go back to work these days, they go back to managing companies, small and large, and creating franchises and international brands as well. And our cultural products need to reflect that. I didn’t want to be condescending: I didn’t want to show readers how to just write a business plan because a lot of them already know how to, I wanted to show them how to write an international marketing plan and how to value a business and present it to investors. But more importantly, whether they run a small or big company, whether they’re creating small or large profits, is that these value chains are sustainable and responsible. And that women follow their dreams, whether they’re career-oriented or personal.

You write fiction and non fiction with your blog, do you prefer one style of writing over the other?

You’re thinking I’m going to say I prefer fiction, aren’t you? But I don’t find writing fiction to be a creative experience. Writing comedy is fun, but if I separate the genre from the equation, then to me, fiction is all about taking the possibility of a million ideas and putting them through a converging ideas process. Which is a very logical process.

Conversely, in writing non-fiction and in developing the purpose of a blog, I take real life (or knowledge) and put it through a creative, diverging ideas process.  I find both to be satisfying writing experiences and hopefully the reader benefits from my work.

Your book cover is fantastic, did you have a lot of input into it?

The cover took longer than the book. In fact, the cover took two years to develop and it is very close to the original concept I came up with. It’s not typical that authors are involved in cover design but I knew it had to speak to the readers. And since readers are such fashion aficionados, I knew it had to be sophisticated.

A lot of friends and early readers (and their daughters) have given us fabulous feedback on the early designs. And the designer Raoul Teague went through hundreds of photos of shoes and we finally selected these two images.  It’s clean, beautiful and reflects the conflict running through the book: the constant juggling modern mothers face every day.

Which character from Mama Couture would you most likely be friends with in real life?

I seem to attract quite colourful friends in real life, so I imagine being friends with any of the characters. They provide Til with a fabulous support structure. Good friends don’t just spend time together, they’re there for each other, and they help you take that step closer to being who you want to be. So a lot of my friends are in the book; not as characters, but they’re there, between the lines and in all the beautiful sentences. I take full responsibility for all the bad bits – I’m still learning.

Who are some of your favourite authors?

I wish I had more time to read. Stand-outs are Jay Verney, Dorothy Porter, Henry James, Kate Morton, Richard Flanagan, Virginia Woolf, Gertrude Stein, and my favourite poets Dorothy Porter and Djuna Barnes. On my list to read are the new Suri Hustvedt and Sarah Winman books. The greatest thing in life is discovering a new writer.

And most importantly, have you got your shoes picked out for the launch?

You’ve certainly found my weak spot. To be honest, I am spending an obscene amount of time on this dilemma: pouring over magazines, staying up til midnight trawling through hundreds of online stores, and of course my fav thing – going into DJs and trying on the most ridiculous shoes they’ve got.  I’ve narrowed it down to about ten different pairs but I’ve got my heart set on some sky-high Burberrys. I was breastfeeding when I tried them on so the assistant put them on for me and I didn’t dare stand up! But even if I hadn’t been holding the baby I was still scared. And they were $1500. And my husband was there! But I don’t know if I can warrant spending $1500 on a pair of shoes that I have to sit down in. The irony is amusing though. And I think I’ve found the start of the next Mama Couture book.

Courtney Nicholas and Tanya Caunce for TLC Books

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