The Booktopia Book Guru asks
Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
I was born in Brisbane, and grew up with my parents and two brothers in the suburb of Tarragindi. I attended the local Catholic primary school, and the local all-girls high school.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
When I was twelve I wanted to be a teenager without braces.
When I was thirty I wanted to be a Paris showgirl. I was, and I loved it.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
That the accumulation of possessions would make me happy. In fact it’s the accumulation of experiences and friendships that have made my life rich.
4. What were three big events in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?
(1) The TV series Fame. Seeing those kids dance on the streets of New York with such energy and enthusiasm made my heart race. I wanted school and work to feel like that.
(2) My first trip to Europe. It made me want to live in another country, immerse myself in a foreign culture and learn a new language.
(3) Being told by an eisteddfod judge as a teenager that I should consider becoming a Bluebell.
5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc why have you chosen to write a book? Aren’t they obsolete?
Many late nights I sat alone in Paris curled up with a good book. Nothing is more comforting, and they will never be obsolete.
6. Please tell us about your latest book?
Memoirs of a Showgirl tells of my experiences as a dancer at Paris’s two prestigious cabaret venues the Moulin Rouge and the Lido. It is a peak at what really goes on behind the red curtain of Paris cabaret, and follows my ups and downs as a girl from BrisVegas muddling through life in France, eventually falling in love with a fellow Aussie and becoming that most incongruous of things: a showgirl mum.
7. If your work could change one thing in this world what would it be?
To encourage people to do a job they love, and not what they think they ought to do.
8. Whom do you most admire and why?
My husband, because he has boundless energy and enthusiasm for life.
9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
To be as kind and patient as my mother.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Don’t underestimate how much work is involved. If you are planning on having children, write your book first.
Shay, thank you for playing.
From the publisher:
Memoirs of a Showgirl is a colourful memoir about living your dream – from ballet classes in Brisbane to principal dancer at The Lido, Paris.
Shayleen Ann Stafford was the middle child sandwiched between two sporting brothers. Her dad was a former rugby player and a welder by trade, her Mum was a nurse. No one called her by her first name, to family and friends she was always Shay. Her early life was a combination of swimming, sport and backyard trampolining until she turned six and started ballet classes, but only for a year.
The TV show ‘Fame’ inspired her to give dance another go. This time she was hooked and she devoted her teens to dance, performing at eisteddfods and shopping centres, never thinking that she could make a living as dancer. But at the end of Year Twelve she did, scoring a coveted dance role in a Brisbane cabaret show choreographed by Todd McKenney. She went on to dance in Japan and Malaysia and then found herself in the Moulin Rouge chorus line. Her hard work and high kicks were noticed and she went on to become the principal dancer at the famous Lido.
About the Authors
Shay Stafford lived in Paris with her husband Bryce Corbett and their son Flynn and daughter Rose. After twelve years as a Paris showgirl Shay came to the end of her showgirl life and has just moved back to Australia with her family.
Bryce Corbett is an Australian journalist who has written for numerous magazines and papers including The Times, The Australian, The Age, The Sun Herald, Vogue and Australian Gourmet Traveller and as a television producer at Sky News. He also spent a number of years at the Daily Telegraph, most notably as its Page 13 gossip columnist.
Mia Freedman talks with Shay Stafford (+ read Shay’s exclusive guest blog post on Mamamia.com.au – here)
About the Contributor
While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.