The incredible Maxine Fawcett
Meet my February Author Stalker victim, my talented writing buddy Maxine Fawcett!
Max & I first met back in 2016, while undertaking a contemporary women's fiction writing course at Writing NSW in Rozelle. What started as a weekly writing class soon turned into a special friendship, lunch dates & writing getaways to her holiday home on the south coast of NSW.
Another fabulous author, Sandie Docker was also part of the same class & is about to publish her sixth novel, the Lyrebird Lake Ladies Choir this coming June 18 https://www.penguin.com.au/books/the-lyrebird-lake-ladies-choir-9781761046049 These girls are leaving me in their wake so I'd better get moving with my current crime WIP!
I am so thrilled to be able to have Max as my first guest for 2024, a day after the incredible launch party in honour of the release of her sensational debut novel Everything is Perfect https://www.penguin.com.au/books/everything-is-perfect-9781761341571 (hence why this post didn't go live as usual on the 1st of the month).
'Smart, fresh and nuanced, Everything is Perfect is a captivating story about ageing, self-worth and unprocessed trauma as seen through the eyes of a woman unravelling. Perfect for anyone who has ever lost sight of the shore in middle age.' Anna Downes
I couldn't agree more with writer Anna Downes' description of Everything is Perfect. Max has brought a fresh & intriguing voice to the complex issues facing women as they enter middle age, many of whom struggle with a loss of their sense of self, & identity. Of course most won't go to the extremes that Cassie did!
Lucky to be sent an advance copy of the novel, I messaged Max with a casting recommendation for the sexy & charismatic Chris Lancaster, the focus of Cassie Prince's obsession, for when Bruna Papandrea options it. (Well not necessarily 'casting' in my case as my suggestion isn't a movie star. If you want to see who Max & I envisioned as we read Chris, scroll on down!)
So much writing talent in the one photo!
L-R - Lisa Kenway, B M Carroll, Karina May, Claudine Tinellis, Annelise Grey, Anna Downes, Sandie Docker, Clare Fletcher, Maxine Fawcett, Pamela Cook, Penelope Janu, singer Alice Night, Jo Riccioni, Kate Albert from Studio 10, Joanna Nell, Vanessa McCausland & Jen Majoor
L-R Shelley & Max, voracious readers Corinne Stevens & Kay Hart, author Joanna Nell, writer & host of Talking Aussie Books Claudine Tinellis
L-R Authors Karina May & BM Carroll, writer & singer Alice Night who showcased her mesmerising vocals at the launch, authors Ali Lowe & Vanessa McCausland
I am SO proud of you Max & I know the Everything is Perfect is going to fly off the shelves!
But now, without further ado, I will hand you over to the amazing Maxine.xx
Q1: What was your inspiration for this story and how long did it take you to write the first draft?
A: I take a notebook with me everywhere as I find this the best way to clear my mind, writing it all down! Having a coffee one morning – toward the end of my boys’ time at Primary school, the voice of Cassie came to me. Once I started writing her, I couldn’t stop, and I have pages and pages filled with what she wanted to say and what she was going through. I had to keep writing until we figured out what she needed together. It took about a year to complete a first draft as I write between 500-1000 words a day.
Q2: You are hosting a spectacular dinner party. Name four dream guests you would love to have seated around your table, and what would they be dining on and drinking?
A: What a question! Marilyn Monroe, Madonna, Queen Elizabeth II and Chris Hemsworth as he seems fun! We’d be eating steak and drinking Bollinger (because this is fantasy, right?!).
Q3: What is your favourite book of all time and why?
A: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. One of the first books I read as a teenager. The image of Heathcliff on the moor, and his unrequited desire, is burned into my subconscious.
Q4: If you could travel anywhere in the world to write for a year, where would we find you?
A: A villa near Florence (very ‘Room with a View'.) Champagne, cheese and tomatoes for lunch. Evening meals in a small café with fairy lights (and more Champagne).
'I fell in love with the South coast the first Christmas we spent in Australia, and have spent many holidays with family and weekends away (writing and chatting about writing) here.'
Q5: Describe your go-to reading spot at home and what book/s would I currently find there?
A: In bed at night mostly. I’m about to start The Drowning Woman by Robyn Harding https://www.simonandschuster.com.au/books/The-Drowning-Woman/Robyn-Harding/9781761422232
Q6: Tell us a bit about a typical writing day…
A: I write between 9.00 – 11am (with coffee) every day, five days a week. I’m still reliant on writing by hand to get things going, even if it’s just a few sentences or thoughts. Then I’ll transcribe this into Scrivener and go from there.
'I’ll actually write anywhere. My favourite spot is our local coffee shop
Four Brothers that the owners call ‘my office,’'
Q7: As a lover of words, is there a special quote you would like to share with us?
A: ‘Write towards your triggers instead of away from them.’ – Chloe Higgins. My teacher and mentor for most of 2021/2022, she taught me to feel scared and write it anyway.
Q8: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
A: Exercising – swimming, yoga, spin classes and walking Snoop (could not function without it), hugging my ever-growing teenagers (if they let me), dinner, escaping to a secret beach with hubby and laughing with my Aussie family (all of our family are overseas).
'Our gorgeous Spoodle Snoop, who is very proud of inspiring ‘Lilly' in Everything is Perfect.'
Q9: Any advice for aspiring authors?
A: That small consistent effort creates results and if something isn’t working don’t be afraid to start again. Failure, and not being afraid of failing, can take you a long way.
Q10: In a few lines, which debut/emerging Aussie author should we look out for?
A: Everyone in the debut crew 2024 Facebook group! Setup by the wonderful Lisa Kenway (look out for her debut ‘All You Took from Me’ later this year) https://www.facebook.com/lisa.kenway.90
Shelley saw Chris Lancaster as the extremely hot online coach & fitness entrepreneur Mike Thurston, whereas Max saw him as the divine Henry Cavill. After conducting a quick poll at the launch last night, most attendees said that they were happy with either option!! If you were on the casting couch, who would be YOUR dream casting suggestion?
Cassandra seems to have it all – but behind her perfect façade she’s barely hanging on.
A captivating, honest and wry novel about a forty-something woman on the brink. Is it Peri? A midlife crisis? Or simply a cry for help?
Cassie Prince lives in a beautiful beach suburb with her successful husband Jon and their children Ellie and Danny. Life is perfect, right?Except now she’s reached her mid-forties, she can’t help wondering what happened to the fun-loving, sexy and accomplished woman she used to be. This isn’t what was promised. She’s panicking about ageing, bored in her marriage, exhausted by her demanding kids, and increasingly torn by news of her sick mother back in England.
So Cassie does what she’s always done – buries her feelings and ignores her problems (and does some more online shopping).
Then at school drop-off she meets Chris Lancaster, a charismatic widowed father-of-five. Soon she can’t stop imagining romantic scenarios between them, even daydreaming of a future together.
She may have been spiralling these last few months, but now Cassie is convinced that the unsuspecting and still vulnerable widower is the answer to everything . . .
'An honest and hilarious story of the changes that come with middle age . . . I laughed, cried and cringed with Cass. This is an absolutely cracking debut novel. I devoured it.' Ali Lowe
Thank you Max for being my first Author Stalker victim for 2024. Shelley. xx
Everything is Perfect is available now through bookstores and online.
If you would like to find out more about Maxine, you can find her here: