Wonderful Women Interview with Author Anoushka Beazley
Anoushka Beazley is author of debut novel ‘The Good Enough Mother’: a satirical, black comedy about a woman who cannot afford to pay her daughters private school tuition so she turns to criminal means.
Anoushka is also a freelance writer, has a post graduate diploma in Acting, a BA Hons in Film and an MA in Creative Writing.
1. Describe a typical day for you?
Do the school run for my three girls. Come home. I’d like to run every day but I don’t as my physiotherapist says I don’t have the body I think I do so I should only run every three days.
I run every other day as a compromise, though I haven’t told him.
I run for half an hour which is long enough to feel like I might die and give me the kick start I need to start living my day. I’ll eat breakfast, normally last night’s left over dinner, and watch a half hour of whatever Netflix show I’m currently obsessed with.
Then I’ll do emails, and then I write. Dinner will depend on how well the writing is going. Less creative writing days make for more creative dinners.
I’ll do the school run in the afternoon and supervise homework, piano practice, showers and dinner. Couple of stories and the girls are in bed. I’ll try and work some more but the lateness of the hour is against me. I’ll have the TV on in the background and something chocolate based lurking nearby and then my husband will come home from work and it’s game over for the writing – I have someone over the age of 10 to talk to.
2. What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
It’s probably good to be asked a question like this because I often forget and feel like I don’t have any!
From the beginning: getting As on my A-levels as I had to take them second time round and was predicted U’s! Thinking I’d never get to university and going to university. Learning to ride a bike at 23. Going to live in New York for a year when I knew absolutely no one and wasn’t even sure where I was going to live. Getting a job with the BBC. Getting a scholarship to drama school. Playing Lady Macbeth every night for two weeks at the Pentameters Theatre.
Surviving my teens, twenties, thirties and (so far) forties. Passing my driving test, fourth time. Learning to swim as an adult. Outdoor swimming! Being mistress of ceremonies at my friends wedding. Seeing my novel ‘The Good Enough Mother’ in the most beautiful window display at Daunt Books. Getting into Waterstones. And the biggest yet – my girls.
3. What’s in your handbag/ satchel?
Purse. Copies of my novel ‘The Good Enough Mother’ (you never know who you might be sitting next to.) A lip gloss which doesn’t suit me. Car keys. Two small plastic toys with large eyes. Loose receipts from two years ago. Old shopping lists. Business cards. An unwrapped panty liner. A crumpled up Green and Blacks butterscotch chocolate packet. A swim nappy.
4. What are your ambitions in life?
They change over time – human beings are so good at never being satisfied. I want this novel
‘The Good Enough Mother’ to go global. I write with a filmic, visual mind and I see it as a movie. It’s not why I wrote it, but I know it would fit perfectly on the screen and I know, as an actress myself, that strong film roles for women are like gold dust. Drea is that gold nugget. I also want a regular column. I love to write. I know people love to read what I write. To me that’s a winning combination!
5. What advice do you know now, you wish you had pre-kids?
One thing pre-kids is the foresight to predict that point in your life when you want the opportunity at least to consider a complete career change, and the hindsight to have got a couple of science A-levels under your belt just so you can apply for that medical degree.
The main things that are affected by children are your relationship with your partner, your relationships with everybody else, your body, your career and your sanity. Minor things. Did I know my husband and I would go out for dinner and I would be suddenly confronted by ‘mundaneness’ of my parent’s marriage and everything I swore I’d never be? Did I know how much I’d hate not seeing my family, not seeing my friends, not having the time?
Did I know my body would never look the same without cosmetic surgery (which I will never do because I am too scared that the trout pout will find my stomach)? Did I know how conflicted and fraudulent I would feel encouraging my children to study hard so they can have the job they want when I am only just working that out for myself?
Did I know that the multiple roles of mother/wife/me, the balancing act, would string me out so completely in the face of life’s extenuating circumstances: my mother’s cancer, my father’s death, that sometimes I’d wonder if my mental health was in jeopardy? But if I had had advice, what would I do differently? Probably nothing.
6. What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career you now know?
That there is a divine discontentment which is part of being an artist and rather than be banished it must be accepted, it’s as much a part of the artist as the art. In fact without it there is no art although here is the paradox, as the struggle and need to fight against this discontentment is diametrically opposed to acceptance of any kind.
One seeks to dominate the other, giving rise to a constant death and rebirth. I actually happened to come upon the acceptance part of this dichotomy quite randomly in a therapy session talking about something entirely different, as tends to happen in therapy.
And the other thing; to not take it all so personally. Be grateful for the people who are in your corner without trying to convert the ones that aren’t.
There are a million reasons why they might not be, a minefield of variables but what is for certain is that trying to figure it out is a waste of time and energy – yours.
7. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
I have a dream to live in America. What stops me is a work visa for either me or my husband, the political situation, education for my girls. Over the last few years I have watched the fire reduce to burning embers on what was once a towering inferno. Priorities shift after kids and what you think you need changes according to what is best for everyone. I think now I’d like a holiday home, a home away from home by the beach in a pretty little whitewashed town with one ice cream store, one butcher and a lighthouse.
Five years on and I am a full-time paid and prolific writer. I have a less terrifying relationship with social media and technology, and my husband and I are still checking in with each other, not taking each other for granted and doing our best to evolve as individuals within a marriage.
I’m enjoying my girls even more than I do now, I have successfully hacked into all their facebook and email accounts and I am celebrating my fiftieth birthday with friends and family in our sea front house in the Florida Keys.
8. What advice would you give a budding author?
Cliché perhaps, but write every day. Actually it’s not cliché it’s just something you must do. Writing as a career is not for the faint hearted. It is lonely, it is thankless, it is exposing and if you do it every day and keep doing it this will then reveal itself to be the only thing you can do. At that point you have committed to the quest!
Once the manuscript is ready always invest in a good editor and leave gaps between your writing and re-reading. A bit of distance brings great rewards. Before you try and get an agent or self-publish, the novel must be as ready as it can be. This is your life blood and it would be such a shame if someone important caught themselves on a grammatical error rather than being stunned by the brilliance of your hard work.
9. Happiness is…
Hmm. Still working this one out. Confidence in your own power and an understanding and awareness of the self. I was born Hindu, one of the oldest religions in the world which has its roots in a fundamental belief in karma and reincarnation. Families get astrological charts of the child’s destiny drawn up before the kid is born. However, I am born in the West, a writer and actress, with as much belief in fate as I have belief in the power to change my fate. I enjoy living in the knowledge that every day I can make decisions to change my destiny, I live a life where I believe in destiny. In this respect my happiness is as unpredictable as it is determined. This is the existential answer, the work in progress forever ongoing.
The realist’s answer, what has been proven to make me happy, is my curiosity.
My need to ask questions about myself, my relationships, my happiness. My ability to feel everything deeply, highs and lows, to sink into depression affords me the opposite experience of blissful happiness when I come through to the other side.
And finally my anti-conformist gene which has me certain beyond belief of my needs and desires, pleasing the little girl in me who was born seeing the world a little bit differently.