About the author:
Holly Wainwright is a former-Mancunian Sydneysider who came to Australia as a footloose traveller more than 20 years ago. Since then, Holly has had a long career as a journalist and editor, originally in travel and celebrity magazines and now online. She’s been working in digital media for three years, most recently as Head of Content at Mamamia. She hosts two podcasts: This Glorious Mess and Mamamia Out Loud, has two small children, lives by the ocean and wishes there were four more hours in every day.
How To Be Perfect is all about the ‘cult of self-improvement’. Can you tell us a bit about this phenomenon and what inspired you to write a novel about it?
I start every Monday morning paleo. I go to bed every Monday feeling disappointed with myself for giving into the siren song of grains. I am not alone in this. In the era of “overwhelm” we (and I’m making the bold claim to speak for quite some number of women here) are always looking for ways we can control anything. In our noisy, relentless environment, the promise of the life-changing benefits of a sprinkling of gold dust in your smoothie or a ‘no carbs after 3pm’ rule is ridiculously attractive. That was the starting point. Well, that and two of the main characters from The Mummy Bloggers. I felt we really needed know what had happened to those women.
There is an entire cast of female characters in your novel, each trying to navigate their own unique experiences of womanhood and motherhood in today’s modern age. Are some of their experiences influenced by your own?
Certainly. My experience and the experiences of many of my friends fill this book. I work in digital media and deal with “influencers” constantly. But what I’m even closer to is the experience of “real” women. How does the constant commentary on how to be a perfect, funny, sunny, happy, skinny woman help and harm us?
The concept of your novel is very funny and relatable. Was it intended to be satirical? Did you want How To Be Perfect to make a comment about modern society?
Yes, of course. Just like with The Mummy Bloggers, the idea was to take a very visible part of our culture – social media and the power of comparison – and hold it up to the light. With humour, smarts and not too sharp a tongue, hopefully.
Who do you think will enjoy this book?
Well everyone, of course! But if the enthusiastic readers of The Mummy Bloggers are an indication, they’re mostly women who recognise this world.
What are you reading at the moment?
Like almost everyone else, I’m reading Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton. It’s absolutely perfect in my eyes.