Georgia Madden: Confessions of a journalist turned author
When Georgia Madden visited bookshops as a little girl, she used to touch the spot on the shelf where her books would one day sit. Now the journalist turned author can touch Confessions of a Once Fashionable Mum as it sits proudly on the shelves of numerous bookstores. However, it’s been a long journey for that little girl with a dream.
Georgia completed an Arts degree at Sydney Uni then moved to London when she was 20 where she started working in PR for a company called Mulberry. “I was itching to move into magazines, but with no journalism degree under my belt, I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it,” she recalls. “I met loads of lovely (and not so lovely) journalists, and when I was 22, I finally begged one of them to take me on as her intern. My family thought I was mad, leaving a well-paid gig for an unpaid one with no guarantee of a job at the end of it. But I ended up staying at that magazine for 10 wonderful years, and they did end up paying me, thank goodness.”
The arrival of son Elliot (now 10) saw Georgia and her husband return to Sydney so they could be closer to family. “For the past 10 years I’ve been writing on a freelance basis for the likes of House & Garden, Inside Out and Home Beautiful,” she says. “Freelancing while my children are young (I now have Maia too, aged seven) has been perfect for me – I work from 9am until 3pm, and then I’m mummy after that.”
So how did she come to specialise in interiors? “My father is an architect and my mother is passionate about interior design, so I’ve always had a soft spot for all things home and decorating,” Georgia laughs. “There was always a lot of discussion around the dinner table about design, and what good design means. Plus, I was never fashionable enough to work on a fashion magazine!
“My parents were constantly building and renovating when I was growing up, so being surrounded by paint charts, fabrics and half-finished projects felt very normal. When I worked at Mulberry I handled the PR for their interiors range, and I later joined Homes & Gardens magazine doing everything from assisting the decorating editor to writing their home trend reports. I ended up being the features editor at H&G, by which time I’d gotten to know the London interiors shops – and the people behind them – pretty well.
“I worked in-house at Homes & Gardens in London. As a freelancer in Sydney, I’ve written for House & Garden, Inside Out, Home Beautiful, Houses, Renovate, Pools & Outdoor Living, plus several interiors websites.”
Georgia lists two career highlights. “First, when I was 22 and had my first write-up in Homes & Gardens,” she recalls. It was about six lines, a review of a little antique shop I’d visited. I couldn’t believe my words were actually in print. My husband – boyfriend at the time – had it framed and we hung it on the wall in our first flat.
“The second was finding out that my book would be published. Writing fiction is so different to reporting on interiors, plus there are so many wonderful fiction writers out there – I felt very insecure about the whole thing. But I was determined to give it a proper stab before I hit 40. Then the big 4-0 came. And went. I still hadn’t written a word. At 41, I ran out of excuses and knew that if I didn’t try now, I never would.”
From there, things happened pretty quickly. “I knew that I wanted to start with something fun, something that would make me laugh. Once Ally Bloom – yummy mummy wannabe and fashionista extraordinaire – came into my head, I started remembering all the excruciating, embarrassing and funny things that happened to me during that first year of motherhood. It all just came tumbling out. The whole process – writing, finding an agent, selling the manuscript and then editing it – took about a year. It was a wonderful time, one I’ll never forget.”
Now Georgia’s working on a sequel. “It’s set five years down the track when Ally’s daughter Coco starts school,” she says. “Ally is secretly determined to make Coco the most popular girl in her kindergarten class, and will stop at nothing to ensure it happens. From rigging the votes so that she’s elected class mum and helping Coco recognise the ‘cool girls’ by the length of their hair to agreeing to a dreaded camping weekend with the entire class, Ally sets about laying the groundwork for absolute social domination.”
So how does it feel to finally achieve her’ life’s ambition? “Aside from the birth of my children, it was the happiest day of my life,” Georgia says. “I felt like I could finally look the childhood version of myself in the eye and say, ‘See? Not such a crazy dream, after all’.”