August 2009


Lana Penrose detailed her culture shock experiences following her boyfriend to Greece in her memoir To Hellas and Back. She continues her story in Kickstart My Heart, out this month. Now based in Sydney, she has worked in the music industry, including as personal assistant to singer Darren Hayes (Savage Garden).

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  1. Why did you decide to continue your story with Kickstart My Heart?

    I continued my first book To Hellas and Back with Kickstart My Heart because I'm basically deluded. I'd completed the first manuscript (which nobody wanted a bar of) and kept on writing. I had so much to say about coping with heartbreak, moving countries and my experiences as a suddenly single chick that I just couldn't stop. Sure I was a little out of control, but writing to a degree buoyed me.

  2. Tell us about the CD soundtrack that is being released in conjunction with the book.

    I'm heavily influenced by music to the point of always having a song in my head that soundtracks whatever I'm doing. I also usually borrow song titles for chapter headings, and in Kickstart My Heart, musical references pepper the narrative. So I took the manuscript into Universal Music and we discussed the potential for a book soundtrack, the first of its kind in Australia. They were all for it and devised a double retro compilation that includes Visage, Spandau Ballet, Pat Benatar, Roxy Music, Fun Boy Three, Eurythmics, Dead or Alive and 10CC. If you read the book then listen to the tracks, you'll get a giggle. It's perfect "dance around your handbag" fodder.

  3. Why did you not refer to Darren Hayes (the Pop Star) by name?

    I was hoping to create a certain amount of intrigue. I see I failed!

  4. Are you still with the man you ended up with in the book?

    I ended Kickstart My Heart in 2006 and am now well underway with book number 3. The sad thing about the slow cogs of publishing is that I can't answer a lot of questions without spoiling my next instalment. So you'll have to wait and see. I'm sure you're on the edge of your seat!

  5. And did Russell Brand ever call?

    Strangely, no. His lawyers did though. (Just kidding.) I stalked, I mean saw Russell again earlier this year. We had a very similar encounter to the one mentioned in the book.

  6. What inspired you to publish a book about your Greek experiences?

    I wrote To Hellas and Back because I was living an unexpected existence. I suddenly found myself cut off from friends, family and the society with which I was accustomed. I felt my identity slipping away, my communication skills flew out the window and I spent inordinate amounts of time in my own company. So basically I was in the perfect environment to document my observations and general unravelling. I was adamant to get it published because I hoped it would bring some meaning to it all. Writing was really my primary means of expression back then.

  7. Did you find it hard writing such a personal story?

    Not really. It actually felt very private, like I was making diary entries, so that bit was easy. The unexpected part came when it was read by thousands who suddenly knew my human failings in intricate detail. I didn't think it through very well, did I?

  8. Has anyone close to you been surprised at what's been revealed in your books?

    Yes. My family. There are certain things you usually keep to yourself, but I tend to include everything, warts and all. I've requested that my father doesn't read Kickstart My Heart. Ever! While I'm happy for readers to learn what a pillock I've been, I don't really want my Dad looking at me funny.

  9. What are you working on now? Could you see yourself ever writing fiction?

    I'm working on the grand finale of the abovementioned tomes. It's going to be a corker and bring the whole thing home. It's about the pursuit of happiness. And yes, I can see myself writing fiction. In fact I think fiction is more liberating because you can totally make stuff up. You don't have to worry about how real life people might respond to what you've written. Fiction comes with an "Only Joking" clause!

  10. What's your best piece of advice for an aspiring writer?

    Don't give up. Be persistent. If you really believe you've got what it takes and people keep telling you that you don't, gently remind them they're stupid.

  11. How did you get into the music/entertainment industry?

    I decided in my early 20s that I had to work with music because I love it so much. I hassled every music-related company in Sydney until I scored a job at the head office of Virgin Megastores. From there I worked as a freelance music journalist, at Sony Music UK, Arista UK (with Simon Cowell, no less), Sony Australia, then MTV as a producer. After my Greek sabbatical I catered to the whims of a pop star whose identity you've gone and revealed.

  12. What is the best and worst job you've had?

    My best job has been as an author. It's hard, but I love it. My worst job ... um ... I worked at a law firm for a while and used to sit at my desk and get drunk, which is neither funny or clever. I also worked for a week at a bus depot.

  13. What is your favourite song to play air guitar to?

    Oooh, that's a brilliant question. A tough one too. Maybe Boston's More Than a Feeling which features on the CD?

  14. What reality TV show would you most like to appear on?

    I don't watch much television these days, so I'm not really up on reality shows. All I know is that if I ended up on Big Brother, I'd avoid everyone, crawl into a corner and weep until they let me out.

  15. You described it as being the "dirty thirties". What will your 40s be known as?

    A-ha! Why, the naughty forties of course!

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