Northern Beaches Mums Group
Northern Beaches Mums Group

Q & A with Holly Wainwright, author of ‘The Mummy Bloggers’ & ‘How to be Perfect’

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.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

As soon as I could write. Even at school I was the author of a passed-around exercise book where I chronicled the imagined romances of me, all my friends, and the members of our favourite pop bands. Cringe…

Were you good at English at school?

Yes. And only good at English. I can still barely add up.

How did you learn to become a writer?

On the job. I might have wanted to write a book since I could pick up a pen, but I was in my 40s when I actually did it. I’m a journalist and editor, so words have always been a part of what I do, but really, I learned about writing from reading, reading, reading and writing every chance I got.

How did you manage to publish your first book?

I had an idea. When I imagined The Mummy Bloggers, it seemed like a timely story that would work and I took it to a publisher, Allen & Unwin. I pitched it, they were keen, and then the hard work really began!

What is your writing process like?

Disjointed! I have two  small kids and a full-time job, so I write whenever I can, however I can. Most of How To Be Perfect was written sitting on my bed, hiding from my family, drinking a lot of tea. I plot out each section in Post-Its on my bedroom wall, and I make myself sit down and get through a set number of words. It’s 99 per cent discipline, 1 per cent inspiration.

Do you ever get writers block and how do you overcome it?

Yes. I keep writing. Charge through the crap to find a nugget of something good. That’s how it works for me.

Where do you find inspiration and ideas from?

All around me. I am interested in the stories of the women in my world. And for The Mummy Bloggers and How To Be Perfect, I have obviously found most inspiration online. We are all so surrounded by influencer culture these days I think we’ve become blind to it. I try to pay attention.

Who are your favourite authors?

I love Anne Tyler. I have read everything she has ever written and I would happily read her shopping list. She’s an American writer, from Baltimore, who writes “small” books about generally unlikeable people. I just adore her understatement and insight into “ordinary” lives. .

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?

I have no problem getting out of bed each day, I have two small kids who never let me sleep past 6am! But work-wise, creating stuff. I love writing, I love podcasting, I love working with the bunch of passionate women I work with at Mamamia.

Where is your favourite place to write?

See above! On my bed, next to a giant teapot.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

When I was very little, I wanted to be a farmer. Then I wanted to save the whales. But mostly, I’ve always wanted to be a writer.

What advice do you have for writers?

I feel like an imposter giving advice. But really, it’s just do it. When I was writing both my books, I took some time and I treated it like a job. Dropped the kids off and started writing. Put the kids to bed, went back to writing. I’m a lot of fun to live with…

How many hours a day do you write?

Not many right now, but in the middle of a book, eight or nine.

What is your favourite childhood book?

When I was seven I was given the book Harriet The Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. Oh my God, it changed my life. It’s about a little girl who writes down everything about her life and her friends in a series of notebooks. It’s heaven. I can’t wait for my daughter, Matilda, to read it.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Oh, I like to hang out with my partner, the kids and our friends, big and small. If there’s coffee or wine (choice time-of-day dependent) involved, I am happy. If we’re outdoors in the sunshine, I’m even happier.

Where is her favourite place in Australia and The World? And why?

Oh, wow. I have travelled all over Australia since coming here from England more than 20 years ago so I’ll stick to that. My absolute favourite place to go on holiday is Lord Howe Island, it’s a stunning, tiny island a couple of hours east of Coffs Harbour and it’s absolutely magical. I also love Kangaroo Valley, on the south coast, and the Northern Territory, for something completely different. Last school holidays we had the most incredible family trip to Darwin and Kakadu. It was heaven.

Where is your favourite place on the Northern Beaches?

I love The Spit to Manly walk. To have that kind of beauty so close to the city… well, I never forget how ridiculously lucky I am to live in Sydney.

The Mummy Bloggers – published September 2017

How to be Perfect?- published September 2018