For our final interview in the Not Your Granny’s Role Model series we have possibly one of my favourite writers ever and mega-inspiring lady Lucy Robinson! Wait. Stop. Okay… sorry, just had to do a little squeal and fan-girl dance.
Hi, Lucy! Thanks for taking the time to do a quick interview with The London Diaries between glamorous parties and PR work for your new book, “A Passionate Love Affair With a Total Stranger”.
You’re originally from the gorgeous Cotswolds. What made you decide to move to London and try to “make it big”?
Ha! How desperate I was to leave the ‘gorgeous Cotswolds’ for stinky London. I guess it was never really a decision – it was more a given. London had everything I wanted – life, pace, jobs, culture. And of course that very special ‘london’ quality that’s so hard to define. I got down here within days of graduating and had a ten year love affair with the place. Things have changed a little though, in the last couple of years. London still takes my breath away but sometimes it feels too much. I’m at risk of becoming a crotchety old lady soon, shouting at young people and tourists. Oh dear..
How did you get started blogging for Marie Claire?
My Marie Claire blog started when I sent an email to the editor about a recent Internet date. As I recall it was a fairly dreadful evening. The editor reported spitting tea all over her computer screen, so amused was she by my woeful tale, and offered me a blog on the spot.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a ballerina “when I grew up”. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I went through several options including (but not limited to)
– Concert Violinist
– Three day event rider
– Prime Minister. I was rather opinionated, politically, as a child. I told my class I disliked Thatcher and wanted to take her out. Aged four! Atrocious.
If you couldn’t be a writer, what else would you like to do?
I’m still trying to find a way of getting back to university and studying further. I’d love to do a Masters in History – I have a subject all lined up. I often think, too, that I’d like to be a naturopath. Naturopathy has saved my life and it’s an approach to life for which I have great enthusiasm.
You wrote your first two novels in South America. What possessed you to do such a crazy thing and would you recommend travelling/writing to other “budding” writers?
I wouldn’t recommend travelling and writing to anyone who has a deadline. It sounds wonderfully romantic but it is not. Travelling is a full-time job! It just goes to show how little I knew about the process when I decided to do it. Myself and everyone I met thought it sounded like a dream come true but everyone I’ve met who actually writes for a living has been appalled by my stupidity!
Fran and Charley are fantastic, strong female characters fighting for true love just as hard as they fight for what they believe in. You also have several strong, empowered supporting female characters like Stefania. Do you see yourself in either Fran or Charley (or both), or any of your other characters?
I’m very fond of both Fran and Charley and yes, of course, some of their major traits mirror my own. Fran is a cariacatured version of who I was in my mid twenties – too much of her self-esteem is dependent on other people. She has no self-belief. Reading her these days I feel fondness but less identification. I’ve changed a lot since I was in that place. And Charley’s workaholism is certainly a problem I’ve battled with. ‘Workaholic’ is often a label of which people are often proud but I see workaholism as a very serious issue that threatens the health of many of us in the Western world.
But while both of my leading ladies are susceptible to behaviours that are far from strong, they overcome their problems and manage to move forward. I guess that’s what I’ve done myself in the last few years. I want to be happy and have the best life available to me – but those sorts of goals take work!
What traits do you think make for a positive, female role model?
A woman whose self esteem is not dependent on others.
In addition to your Huffington Post piece on groping and being the only protector of your own body, what do you think are the major problems facing women today, and how can they be helped?
I think women are in a difficult place. We live in an apathetic, post-feminist time where the F word has come to embody anger, bullishness and hairy armpits. It’s a sad state of affairs, really. Women should be proud to stand up for themselves: able to demand absolute and transparent equality without fear of being sidelined for being difficult or pushy. I feel so furious and cornered when men make sexual remarks to me in the street but if I say anything I’m sworn at and called – just last week – an ‘angry lesbian.’ Seriously?! Where is equality when I still can’t walk down the street without being viewed as some sort of a sexual animal – and then sworn at when I object?!
Other than the release of “A Passionate Love Affair With a Total Stranger”, do you have any other big plans for 2013?
I am hoping that 2013 will finally be the year in which I move to New York! Not for long: probably just six months. But I’ve wanted this for more than ten years.
Finally, Hemingway once wrote a story in just six words (“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”). What would be your six word story for your life so far?
I’ve finally learned to like myself.
Lucy Robinson is a brilliant writer with two fantastic novels out that if you haven’t read already you should be weeping at having missed out on so many side-aching laughs. You can read my reviews of her newest novel here. But why bother with the review? I mean, we all know you’re going to read her books anyhow because they’re so bloody awesome. Head on over to Amazon US and UK to nab your copy! And while you’re waiting for Amazon to deliver, why not check out Lucy’s equally hilarious blog full of embarrassing stories, writing tips and just loads of fun.