[Great to have you here, Rowena! Looking forward to learning more about you and your work. Wishing you lots of success and sales :)
Hi there. I’ve honestly really enjoyed answering your questions. They’ve been great fun! Thanks for the opportunity to be featured on your blog, I really appreciate it. Please stay in touch!
1 What was your first job? Did you like or dislike it? Why?
My first job, I hate to say it, was working at McDonald’s. In my first week I failed a secret shopper visit. Apparently I didn’t smile or upsell. And so set the tone of my career at McDonald’s; oil burns on my arms from the chip fryer, smelly armpits, oily pimples from wearing a hat. It was in the days before they had salads at McDonald’s, where men would order a Big Mac and a cheeseburger and customers would abuse you if you forgot to put a serviette in their takeaway bag. The only upside of working at McDonald’s was the training I got, I’ve never had such thorough training ever since. They taught me to multitask – take the order, get the tray out, put the cup under the drinks pourer, grab the burger, grab the chips, drink now poured, grab the drink … there was a process for everything.
Do you have a pet peeve? If so what is it?
The most popular girl in school storyline. I hate my daughter reading or watching a film about the so called ‘nerd’ rising to the summit of popularity. I want our kids to celebrate diversity and to know that being different can be the coolest thing of all.
Would you describe your style as shabby chic, timeless elegance, eclectic, country or ____?
Mid-century modern. Our house is filled with mid-century Australian designed furniture. Our latest acquisition was a blue fibreglass rhino head to hang over our fireplace to match our aqua blue dining chairs. I love how people used colour so much more in the 1950s-70s; bright oranges, blues, greens. It feels like everything is so beige these days.
Tell me about your book The Replacement Wife and where you got your inspiration for it?
The Replacement Wife is about Luisa who has fallen in love with another man, so she tries to find a wife for her husband. Luisa has an 8-year-old son and she wants to make sure he doesn’t end up with a wicked stepmother part of the time. I knew a woman some years ago who had begun a relationship with a man who had a daughter and she wasn’t getting along with the daughter. She would say some pretty unfair things, I thought, about the daughter. It was tough for this woman, because she’d never had children of her own. I guess I started thinking about the daughter and her real mother and then the idea came, what would happen if a relationship was failing but someone wanted a say in who would play a part in their child’s life?
Who is your role model? Why?
Amanda Palmer – she wears her heart on her sleeve, she makes seriously good music and she’s married to Neil Gaiman. Listen to ‘In my mind’ and be happy to be the person you are.
How much of your book is realistic?
I draw from aspects of my life in all my stories. For example, Luisa loves mid-century furniture too (see above!).
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
To keep on developing myself as a writer. I want to keep on challenging myself and writing different kinds of stories. I want to write something really courageous.
Share one fact about yourself that would surprise people.
I worked at a children’s camp at Lake Baikal, in Siberia, for a month when I was 19.
by Rowena Wiseman
Luisa has fallen madly in love with sculptor Jarvis, so she comes up with a plan to find a new wife for her husband Luke so she can exit stage left. She wants to screen potential stepmothers for her 8-year-old son Max and has strict criteria: the woman must be a single mother; have no more than two children; she can't be authoritarian; she must be creative, nurturing and not much prettier than Luisa.
After a few carefully orchestrated meetings with different women that fail to raise a spark, Luke finally connects with a potential replacement wife. However, Luisa isn't prepared for the fact that Luke's interest in the other woman makes him a better man and a more attractive husband. After suffering for years in a half-dead marriage, Luisa starts to remember what it was about Luke that she originally fell in love with. But is it too late?
It was my brother Chris’s fortieth birthday party, and I was in the kitchen helping my sister-in-law prepare salads. I was chopping spring onions when I saw Jarvis walk through the back gate. He’d grown a beard, so at first I wasn’t sure it was him. I asked Melissa, ‘Is that Jarvis?’
‘Yeah. He’s finally coming along to something,’ she responded. I watched through the window as Jarvis greeted my brother with a hefty handshake and a six-pack of ciders. It must have been at least a dozen years since I’d seen him, but it appeared now that my long-ago crush had left a tiny cavity in my heart. Distracted, I turned my attention to grating carrots for the Ottolenghi sweetcorn slaw, but ended up grazing my knuckle.
An hour later, after we’d eaten, I was sitting on the back deck. My best friend, Hattie, had just left when Jarvis walked up and sat beside me.
‘Hey there,’ he said, cautiously.
Greetings dealt with, an awkward silence fell.
‘I always wondered what had happened to you,’ I said at last. ‘I haven’t seen you for years.’ My voice felt trapped in my throat.
‘I’ve been around. It seems I prefer my own company to most people. I was curious about you, though. Your brother said you’re married now.’
I pointed out my husband, Luke, and my son, Max, who were over by the shed. Luke was standing with his arms crossed, watching Max hurl water balloons at his cousin Thomas.
‘I always took you as a free spirit,’ Jarvis said, smoothing a crease in his pants. ‘I thought it would’ve been hard for you to settle down.’
Gathering words seemed to be like catching fairy dust in the air. ‘What’s that Coelho quote? “If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine. It is lethal.”’ I had a strange urge to show him that I wasn’t living in domestic bliss, that my window was open to the fragrance of adventure.
He smiled, his mouth betraying his serious, thoughtful eyes. His plain blue shirt was buttoned all the way up to his neck, his beard was obsessively neat, and his chunky black-framed glasses reminded me that he read more than the sports section of the newspaper. With my nerves expanding in my chest, making breathing difficult, I cursed myself for being a mouth-breather. My words came out as though they were colliding with a road train. ‘What are you doing now?’ I finally managed.
‘I’m a sculptor. Well, working at an abattoir pays the bills. But sculpting’s my thing. I’m working on a major piece to enter in the McClelland Sculpture Award. Fourth time lucky, perhaps. I’m thinking maybe it’s my artist’s statement that’s letting me down: I can get carried away with my writing sometimes.’
‘I could help you, if you like,’ I said, skidding over my own enthusiasm. ‘I’m an editor. Words are my thing.’
‘Really? That would be great.’
‘You can email it to me.’ I reached into my handbag to get out my purse, but pulled out Max’s cricket box instead. ‘Oh, this is Max’s . . . He played cricket this morning; I don’t always carry dick-protectors in my bag. Joys of being a mother — you end up with all sorts of crap in your handbag. It used to be sultanas or Matchbox cars—Ah, now I’m rambling . . .’ Jarvis’s laugh was as confident as steel.
Eventually, I found my purse and took out my business card. My hands were trembling just slightly as I handed Jarvis my card.
‘Luisa, let’s go. Max is all wet,’ I looked up to see Luke’s face staring down at me impatiently.
‘It’s only water, he’ll dry off,’ I said, my neck feeling flushed.
‘He’s soaked,’ Luke said. Then he leaned in and said, ‘Thomas is a bully. Let’s go, he’s not being nice to Max.’ I knew the real reason Luke wanted to go was that he expired at social functions somewhere between two and three hours. He’d make any excuse to get back to the comfort of his own home; to a TV programme he liked, his feet on the coffee table, and four squares of Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate at hand.
‘I’ll email you,’ Jarvis said, half waiting to be introduced. But Luke was in a hurry, and didn’t care to meet whomever I was talking to. No doubt he was already imagining his feet up on the coffee table.
‘Nice to see you,’ I said to Jarvis, gathering my handbag up off the ground before trailing after my husband pathetically. I left the party forgetting my salad bowl, but carrying a new seed of pleasure in my otherwise routine life.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Rowena Wiseman writes contemporary fiction, young adult and children's stories. She was recently named as one of the 30 most influential writers on Wattpad.
Rowena's blog Out of Print Writing, about writing and publishing in the digital revolution, has been selected for the National Library of Australia's archive program PANDORA http://www.outofprintwriting.blogspot.com.au/.
She works in the visual arts sector and lives on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria.
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE
Rowena will be awarding an eCopy of Replacement Wife to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.