The Booktopia Book Guru asks
Six Sharp Questions
1. Congratulations, you’ve a new book – what is it about and what does this book mean to you?
In short, Stella Makes Good, is about swinging, infidelity and mother-in-laws…with a bit of romance and sexting on the side!
The longer version? Told from four points of view, Stella Makes Good spans one tumultuous week after best friends, Stella, Carly and Jesse meet for drinks, and unwittingly stumble upon a sex party. What they see that night will alter the course of their lives and shatter long held beliefs, forcing them to re-evaluate the things that are truly important to them.
Stella Makes Good is about the games we play, the secrets we keep and the unpredictable nature of life because no-one ever really knows what lies ahead.
What does it mean to me? Sounds daggy but I’ve grown to love these flawed women. I care about them and am excited to be finally sharing their story with readers. Yes, I know they’re not really real…but they are to me.
2. Times passes. Things change. What would be the best and worst moments you’ve experienced in the past year or so?
Professionally, the best would definitely be holding the advance copy of Stella Makes Good in my hot little hands and realising that ‘I’ve done it’ moment.
The other best moment would be that after receiving a mediocre (crap) review for Claudia’s Big Break in Spectrum, SMH, in February (when I shed a not so quiet tear), the following week, also in Spectrum, Claudia’s Big Break was listed as number nine on the Australian best seller list. Swings and roundabouts!
Other highlights were the widening my circle of writerly friends and seeing so many women bring out new books in 2011 – Kylie Ladd (Last Summer), Kerri Sackville (When my husband does the dishes…), Anita Heiss (Paris Dreaming), Karly Lane (North Star), Dianne Blacklock (The Secret Ingredient), Helene Young (Shattered Sky), Sara Foster (Beneath the Shadows), Mandy Magro (Rosalee Station) and so many more. I’m excited to be in the company of amazingly talented Australian women and the group continues to expand.
The worst moments…oh, those frequent times when I think I’m utterly crap at writing and want to give up and toss my laptop out the window and bury myself in a deep black hole.
3. Do you have a favourite quote or passage you’d be happy to share with us? It doesn’t need to be deep but it would be great if it meant something to you.
‘As soon as you trust yourself you will know how to live.’ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
‘It is never too late to be what you might have been.’ George Eliot
4. Writers have often been described as being difficult to live with. Do you conform to the stereotype or defy it? Please tell us a little about the day to day of your writing life…
Difficult to live with? Excuse me, I’m perfect!
Hmm, perhaps the times when I’m not being perfect I could be accused of living in my head too much. It sounds like a cliché (generally because it is) but when those characters get stuck inside my head, I need to expel them as quickly as possible. Sometimes that means I completely forget about food and hence why my children often stand in front of the open fridge door hoping for a miracle.
My day to day writing life varies. On a good day, I’ll happily chat to myself and write for five hours straight (see above re lack of food in the house). Other days I procrastinate, fritter away time on Facebook, twitter and other cyber activities, or I completely switch off and refuse to go near the computer for days. Writers are weird. (However, I know for a fact there are writers weirder than me.)
5. Some writers claim not to be influenced by the needs of the marketplace, while others seem obsessed by it, would you please describe how the marketplace effects your writing.
Without a doubt, I write for myself. I’ll go with a theme that I hope will keep me interested for 85,000 words. If I’m not interested, there’s no way I’m going to be able to keep reworking/editing a story for two years +.
I definitely don’t write for the marketplace. I probably should but how do you know what the next big bang will be? I write from the heart and try to write the best story I can and then I hope for the best…
6. Unlikely Scenario: You’ve been charged with civilising twenty ill-educated adolescents but you may take only five books with you. What do you take and why?
Civilising twenty ill-educated adolescents? Hmm…
To Kill a Mocking Bird – other than it’s brilliant, my fourteen year old actually read it, got it and appreciated it.
Lord of the Flies…to demonstrate that there are worse things in life.
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy…because there’s got to be some way to escape this planet.
Romeo and Juliet…every adolescent needs a bit of romance even if it does end very badly.
Last but not least, 4 Ingredients…why? Because kids are always bloody hungry (again with the fridge opening business) and 4 Ingredients, ‘packed with over ‘340 quick, easy and delicious recipes using 4 or less ingredients’ will ensure that these kids, though ill-educated, will be dab hands in the kitchen!
Lisa, thank you for playing.
Thanks for having me over, John. Loved it!
Lisa’s forthcoming novel, Stella Makes Good, is already causing a bit of a stir…
From The Daily Telegraph last week:
Author Lisa Heidke’s fourth book Stella Makes Good inspired by swingers sex party in Sydney’s Turramurra
By Felicity McLean
IT’S not every day you read about a sex party in Turramurra. So when local author Lisa Heidke read just that, it was too seductive to ignore.
“I was flipping through the North Shore Times and found a small article about a police raid on a swingers’ party just up the road from my home in Pymble,” Heidke explains.
“I thought it was hilarious. I mean, what would you do if someone invited you to a party up the road and you turned up to a sex party! And then imagine you saw your newsagent there. Or the butcher. Or you saw your friend’s husband there!”
Such a provocative prospect provided the launch pad for Heidke’s latest novel, Stella Makes Good. The fourth book in three years for the journalist-turned-author, it continues Heidke’s tradition of exploring contemporary life, even if it is a little more risque than her usual fare.
“When I was researching online I thought, ‘Oh, God! Am I accidentally going to access some illegal site and have the police turn up and confiscate my computer?’ ” she says. “I want to make it very clear that I didn’t go to any sex parties in researching my book!” Read the full story here…
by Lisa Heidke
Can mother-of-three, Stella forge a new life for herself after the end of her marriage? A funny and insightful novel about love, friendship and the quest for happiness.
Stella Sparks is on good terms with her ex-husband, Terry, despite the fact he left her for another woman. Stella’s philosophical – the marriage had run its course, they remain friends and the wellbeing of their kids is central to both of them.
Stella’s two closest friends, Carly and Jesse, envy her togetherness and wish they could emulate it. Jesse’s husband, Steve, is a control freak who’s driving her crazy, but she has two small children and can’t see a way out. Carly, meanwhile, suspects her husband is having an affair and isn’t sure what to do about it.
Stella’s life takes a distinctly upward turn when she meets a handsome, apparently single – no ring, anyway – father at her son’s school speech night. For Carly and Jesse, however, the search for happiness and fulfilment proves more elusive…
With a healthy dose of humour and romance Stella Makes Good is about the games we play, the secrets we keep, the unpredictable nature of life and the importance of female friendship.
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.