It’s lovely to have the wonderfully witty Georgina Penney with me on the blog today to celebrate the recent release of her third novel, The Barbershop Girl, which was published on the 3rd January.
Georgina first discovered romance novels when she was eleven and has been a fan of the genre ever since. It took her another eighteen years to finally sit in front of a keyboard and get something down on the page but that's alright, she was busy doing other things until then.
Some of those things included living in a ridiculous number of towns and cities in Australia before relocating overseas to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Brunei Darussalam and currently, Scotland.
In between all these travels, Georgina managed to learn to paint, get herself a Communication and Cultural Studies degree, study Psychotherapy and learn all about Hypnotherapy. In the early days she even managed to get on the IT roller coaster during the early noughties boom, inexplicably ending the ride by becoming the registrar of a massage and naturopathy college. There was also a PhD in the mix there somewhere but moving to Saudi Arabia and rediscovering the bodice ripper fixed all that.
Today she lives with her wonderful husband, Tony in a cosy steading in the Scottish countryside.
When she's not swearing at her characters and trying to cram them into her plot, she can be found traipsing over fields, gazing at hairy coos and imagining buff medieval Scotsmen in kilts (who have access to shower facilities and deodorant) living behind every bramble hedge.
Please feel free to pull up a stump and get to know Georgina a bit more.
Before I continue though, I’d just like to thank Jacinta at Penguin Books Australia, for making this interview possible.
Georgina, it’s awesome to have you here on my blog. Welcome.
Thanks so much for having me drop by!
Please share a bit about yourself and your journey to becoming an author.
I’m someone who is absolutely fascinated by everything. A complete omnivore. I love travelling (but hate airports and the flying involved), and am always planning the next trip. I’ve always got at least four different books on the go, minimum. I love talking to strangers and hearing their stories, the weirder the better. And I have what is verging on a serious caffeine addiction!
As far as becoming an author, I’ve always wanted to be one but it wasn’t until my husband and I moved to Saudi Arabia that I had the time to put that first hundred words on the page. I haven’t stopped since!
Could you tell us in your own words what The Barbershop Girl is about?
To me, The Barbershop Girl is all about the image we present to the world versus who we are inside. My heroine, Amy goes through life with a sunny smile—even when she’s not feeling it—while my hero, Ben, goes through life steeped in sarcasm and humor. The fun of the story is how the two of them come together with bumps along the way!
What are the major themes in The Barbershop Girl?
There are a few. Self image is a big one. Sacrificing yourself to protect other’s feelings is another. I guess the main one for my hero Ben, is the peril of making assumptions. In his case, it’s assuming Amy will adore anything he writes about her without first asking if she’s fine with it.
What makes The Barbershop Girl stand out from the crowd?
Is it too big headed to say my characters are awesome? Ben and Amy turned up one day, jumped onto the page and I kind of can’t take credit for them because they pretty much wrote themselves.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Self doubt! But we all have that, don’t we? The first draft is always hard because I spend a lot of time forcing myself not to second guess the process.
When you begin a new novel, do you already know how it’s going to end? Or do your stories unfold organically as you write?
I have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen past the page I’m writing! It’s wonderful but scary at the same time.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
Your first draft is just you telling yourself the story. It’s not meant to be pretty.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Do it. Have a base 100 word a day goal and stick to it and in a year you’ll have your novel. If you don’t start now, you won’t have that novel in a year and you’ll still be in the same place.
If I think I’m a writer, how would I know for sure?
If you write, you’re a writer. It’s just the noun attached to the verb. I don’t go in for all the ‘am I a writer?’ kerfuffle 😊
What’s the best thing about being an author?
Getting lost in different worlds and other people’s lives!
So now that we have the official part of the interview out of the way and, before we close, I thought we’d have a bit of fun!
What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer it?
What would you like to see changed in the interaction between readers and writers today?
I’d love to see both readers and writers remembering that everyone’s human and treating each other with respect and consideration. Readers need to remember that writers will read the reviews they post and writers need to remember that readers are entitled to their opinions. (It’s not such a fun Q&A but it’s something I think is so needed nowadays with so much meanness online.)
Beer, Wine or Cocktail?
Beer or red wine.
Do you have a favourite motivational phrase?
Do the f*cking work.
If you had a book club, what would it be reading and why?
This is such a hard one! I’m hopeless at bookclubs because I think books are so personal. At the moment I’m obsessed with The Mitford Sisters. Particularly the collection of letters they wrote each over their lives. So that would probably be the thing I’d suggest. I love reading letters, they give such brilliant insight into character.
Give us three good to know facts about you – be as creative as you want!
I’ll talk your ear off and probably be the loudest person in the room but I’m a complete introvert. So if anyone meets me at a function and I’m a bit crazy-eye or abrupt, it’s in no way personal. I’ve just hit my social saturation point and need a sit down in a corner with a cup of tea.
I have a thing for leopard print. It’s wonderful and tacky and makes everything look awesome as far as I’m concerned. I picked up this little fancy in Saudi Arabia and ever since my friends buy me leopard print things as a joke. I’ve got candles, slippers, rugs, jeans… okay you get the idea.
If I find a book I love, I’m like a two year old. I’ll re-read it five million times and never get tired.
If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
How Did I Get Here Again?
Georgina, it’s been an absolute delight having you here today and I so look forward to reading more of your novels. Before you go though, would you mind sharing with us an excerpt from The Barbershop Girl?
Ben jolted awake at the sound of a door opening at the back of the barbershop. He stifled a yawn. He had no idea how long he’d been sleeping. All he knew was that he now had company. Chatty company.A slightly breathless, melodic female voice pervaded Ben’s consciousness. ‘Good morning. Sorry to keep you waiting, Ben. It was Ben, right? I was just finishing up with a customer next door. I’ve brought you some homemade chocolate cake to make up for being late. Are we having coffee this morning?’‘I just woke up. What do you think?’ Ben grumbled, rubbing his hands over his eyes.‘I think you’re one of those.’The blonde, Amy if he remembered correctly, approached and placed a tray bearing a steaming mug of black coffee, a small jug of cream and a pot of sugar cubes along with a generous slice of chocolate cake on a small inbuilt ledge in front of his chair.‘Thank you.’ Ben looked up into a pair of china-doll blue eyes that were watching him warily, despite the smile stretching her fuchsia-painted lips. He paused momentarily to collect his thoughts. The woman was truly a polished piece of work, spectacular in fact.The fifties pin-up thing was obviously an ongoing theme. Today, her platinum hair was styled in a high, soft ponytail with loose C-shaped curls framing her features. The rest of her wasn’t so much cute as ridiculously sexy: a frilly, long-sleeved white blouse tucked into a navy below-the-knee pencil skirt that cupped her curvy little rump lovingly. Ben couldn’t help but notice what her impossibly high red heels did for her calves as she walked away from him to collect a small trolley.‘You’re welcome,’ she said over her shoulder. ‘What do you mean, I’m one of those?’ Ben demanded.‘A grumpy bear in the morning. I’m used to your type.’ ‘You’re not one of those disgusting morning people by any chance, are you? I heard you were a dying breed.’ Ben reached for the coffee, added a dash of cream and took an experimental sip. It was good. Very good. Much better than Alex’s dismal efforts, to say the least.‘Better?’ she asked, draping an olive-green cape around his shoulders and tying it behind his neck.‘Marginally. This is good coffee.’ Ben took a larger sip, feeling the caffeine zapping his neurons to life and kickstarting his cha- risma. He risked cracking his first smile of the day and was rewarded with one in return. No dimples though. It was obvious he’d have to try harder for those after his behaviour the other night.‘I know. It’s fantastic, isn’t it? It comes from a little place down south in Margaret River. I order it especially.’ She smiled again, this time bringing out one dimple. For some inexplicable reason, the sight brought Ben out of his early-morning malaise like no coffee ever could. He couldn’t quite fathom the why of it, but he was experiencing the first rush of purely physical attraction he’d felt in years.Sex and relationships had come so easily to him for the past decade that he thought he’d long since graduated from the rampaging hormone-driven lust of his teens. Obviously he’d been wrong. That he felt it with this woman was perplexing and somewhat alarming in light of his recent disastrous, highly publicised affair. Been there done that, wanted a refund. But still . . . he hadn’t managed to earn both dimples yet.He broke off a chunk of cake and took a bite, moaning in pleasure the minute it hit his taste buds. ‘I take back the dying breed comment. There needs to be more of you. This is amazing.’ He reached for another piece, resisting the urge to lick his fingers.Her eyes twinkled. ‘Thanks.’‘Is this for a special occasion or just because you knew I was coming?’She laughed and the sound coursed through Ben’s system like quicksilver.‘No special occasion, but if it helps we can pretend. Is your birthday any time soon?’‘Birthday. No, that was a few months back. I don’t celebrate those anyway.’That earned him a shocked look. ‘Never?’Ben shrugged, running his finger across the plate to pick up the last of the crumbs. ‘Never have. Not my thing.’‘What about when you were a kid?’‘Cake didn’t feature high on my parents’ list of priorities. Is this the scene of an inquisition specialising in torture through cake and coffee, or a barbershop?’ His words came out sharper than he intended and he covered his gaffe up with a grin, running his hand over his jaw. ‘Because as you can see, I currently resemble an extra in a low-budget detective flick.’Other than an almost imperceptible pause, Amy didn’t seem affected by his bad manners. ‘Yeah, you do. What can I do for you today? I’m guessing just a shave since you keep this so short.’ She ran her hand over the top of his head, regarding him in the mirror, her head cocked to one side.Inexplicably, Ben fought the urge to purr. ‘A shave please. As long as you can assure me I’m safe.’‘You ever hear the one about the fool who made fun of his barber?’ She arched a blonde eyebrow.‘No, is it funny?’‘You’ll laugh your head off,’ she retorted. ‘Now finish your coffee while I get the torture implements ready.’ She met his eyes briefly in the mirror and he was struck once again by how blue hers were. They had to be contact lenses, surely.‘Order received and understood,’ he said dryly, draining his cup while surreptitiously watching her work.