With twelve books to her name, Kathy Lette certainly knows her chick lit. In Courting Trouble the Aussie author takes on a slightly grittier topic – complete with her characteristic touch of wit and humour. In this revealing interview, CAMILLA DAVIES finds out more …
You’ve enjoyed a prolific writing career, where do you find your literary inspiration?
The tax department are a great inspiration, when my tax bills are looming I suddenly feel the need to write again…! No, I really only write because it’s cheaper than therapy!
Your latest novel, Courting Trouble, sees a mother and daughter enter into a female centric legal team. Do you think this concept works well in real life?
God, yeah, and I wrote it with a TV series in mind: I thought, ‘where is the legal series version of Thelma and Louise?’ Everything is about men – Breaking Bad, True Detective, and Endeavour. While they’re all great shows, they’re all featuring male protagonists. Women make up half the world and our tales don’t get told.
Why do you think the book has been such a success?
Odd couple comedies work – and to have the female trisector with grandma, mother, granddaughter, means I have all that juicy, fun witty banter but each book still has a serious theme. I always say that women are each other’s wonder bras – up lifting, supportive and making each other look bigger and better. Most of my female characters and robust and deeply loyal to one another.
But the book focuses on serious topics too?
Courting Trouble deals with the brutal cross examination of women rape trials. This has become a very contentious issue for the last couple of years. Why is it that a victim of a rape is told that she was asking for it? Imagine if that happened in murder trials, would we be looking at ‘consensual death’? It’s just so illogical – the amount of women who bring forced rape prosecutions is miniscule and yet so many rapists get off because the system is geared against women. In my book, a woman is raped and her grandmother is so convinced that she won’t get a fair trail that she takes the law into her own hands, and shoots the rapist in the testicles. This was based on a real story that happened in Melbourne. On the radio and people were saying how terrible this ‘rough justice’ was, but women were ringing in and saying, ‘If it was my granddaughter I would do the same thing.’ It’s interesting, the gulf between your beliefs and your behaviours. You can believe in the law but if it happens to you or someone you love, and you have the chance for revenge, would you take it? That’s the moral dilemma that the reader has to chew over.
Courting Trouble balances serious issues with humour. Why is it so important to have humour within your novels?
I think if you can disarm with charm you’ve a much greater chance of getting your message across. Also I think women use humour as a great coping mechanism. Anthropologists have done research into what makes people laugh all-round the world and found that in every single culture in the world women laugh more often than men, especially in all-female groups. I bet you anything, whether Inuits, Mauritians or British mums meeting at the school run, we are laughing about the same thing – the inadequacies of men!
For women it’s a case of laugh o your mascara runs. All the things we still have to fight for – take equal pay. As long as it’s a man’s world I think as an author I’m able to comedically knee cap men as often as possible!
How do you reward yourself once a work is finished?
Oh, champagne darling! I was Writer in Residence at the Savoy hotel in 2003 which was better than winning the Booker Prize. I had my own suite for about four months because I just wouldn’t go home! I’m still like their mascot so they say I can come in for champagne whenever I like. I’ve got a comedic coven of good girlfriends – Rub Wax, Maureen Lipman, Jo Brand if she’s in town. We meet regularly and just laugh until our lips fall off.
Courting Trouble by Kathy Lette, published by Bantam press, is out now. Available at all good book stores.
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