Player Profile: Jennifer Smart, author of The Wardrobe Girl
by Jon Page - February 27th, 2014
Tell us about your latest creation:
The Wardrobe Girl follows the story of Tess Appleby, the new standby assistant on long-running Australian soap – Pretty Beach Rescue. It’s not quite the BBC, where until recently Tess has been working, but it should be an uncomplicated return to Sydney life after 8 years in London and a humiliating end to a relationship. But, just like a soap opera plot, Tess’s life is soon anything but uncomplicated when the cast of characters, including the soap’s leading man, her retired actress mother and aspiring actress sister, the paparazzi, even her pet dog, Eric, all seem to conspire to create chaos. But Tess isn’t phased, not until the man who broke her heart 8 years ago arrives at Pretty Beach Rescue as a new Director. The Wardrobe Girl is loosely based on my experience working in the Australian TV industry, including 5 years on Home and Away.
Home is Balmain, in Sydney.
When you were a kid, what did you want to become? An author?:
I wanted to be either a ballerina or an architect.
What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:
As The Wardrobe Girl is my debut novel, I will have to claim it as my best work.
Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:
My desk is cluttered more often than it is tidy, but it sits under a window that looks out onto my street and the passing parade of Balmain locals. I have a large board covered in inspiring clippings, family photos etc. There are books and artworks, some reflected in the large deco mirror that belonged to my grandmother and now hangs over the mantlepiece.
When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:
I’m not a big reader of non-fiction, but my fiction taste is broad. I’ll happily curl up with a Marian Keyes, or a Hilary Mantel. I had a Graham Greene phase last year and I’ve just finished Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road To The Deep North, which I loved.
What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:
I adored Milly Molly Mandy and Noddy when I was very young and a full colour Disney edition of Mary Poppins – read by all my daughters. As a teenager, I read lots of Jean Plaidy before discovering Daphne du Maurier.
If you were a literary character, who would you be?:
Once I stood on an elephant’s back in a river in Laos and I felt like Marlena in Water For Elephants. I’d like to think I have the wit and charm of Elizabeth Bennett and the intellect of Hermione Granger. But most mornings, especially school mornings, I feel like Mrs Weasley.
Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:
I love dancing, and have taken ballet classes & am about to take up tap again. Give me a garden or an art gallery to potter around and I’m very happy. Munching popcorn & sipping champagne whilst watching films. I knit, a lot. Playing Lego with my youngest daughter and Scrabble with my husband. Live theatre, dance & music.
What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:
My favourite food is cooked by someone else and my favourite drink is French Champagne, preferably pink.
Who is your hero? Why?:
Germaine Greer is my hero. I love her fearless expression of her opinions, even when I don’t agree with them. Her academic scholarship on all things Shakespeare is extraordinary. She has a great sense of humour. Above all, she has fought a tough battle for women and still does.
Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:
As long as people are writing/telling stories, people will want to read them. We may not always have books in exactly the
same physical form we experience them as now, but I believe they will always be with us.