Due to COVID-19, she asked our photographer not to go in and he shot her on the street. Lunch consists of Gyoza and Nasi Goreng from Richmond’s Sister of Soul, their favorite vegetarian restaurant, while I have tofu salad from I Dream of Sushi in Moonee Ponds. “Local ordering is almost like a duty,” she says, “you know how hard they do it.”
Sister of the soul fried rice.Recognition:Joe Armao
By the age of 40, Foster Blake reached that point in life where breakups are rampant. “A lot of my friends are going through divorces and deceptions that would beg the faith. If I wrote about what these people did to each other, it would be stranger than fiction.”
After years of writing a relationship column for Cosmopolitan, she has heard horrific stories for a lifetime about what people do with each other. This inspired her to write the nonfiction book Break-up Boss and Love and Textbook Romance, which were co-written with Hamish. Her novels, including The Wrong Girl, which was adapted for television, also deal with dating and relationships.
Earlier this year, Audible approached her to write a novel. While a 100,000 word manuscript was daunting, 30,000 or so seemed realistic even when locked. The result is Clean Slate, about a bright, shiny young couple who seemingly have it all, but nothing is what it seems. Spoiler alert: There are issues – more than one. Read by the always entertaining Stephen Curry, it’s funny despite the somber theme.
Receipt for lunch with Zoe Foster Blake
Foster Blake grew up in Bundanoon and was the last of eight children in a mixed family. Her father David Foster is a writer and her mother Gerda Busch is a counselor in Goulburn Prison. There wasn’t a lot of money, she says, but her parents were self-sufficient – they wrote a book about it too – and it was pretty idyllic. Being five years younger than her next sibling meant spending a lot of time alone. There was no television.
“It was pretty much us and our ideas … They were very interesting people and I think we should be able to keep up with them at the kitchen table from a young age. The kind of books I read and the conversations we had , were probably pretty nifty. “
As a teenager, she would “basically flee and go somewhere else and not see my parents all weekend, I would go out and go to a house that had junk food and television.”
Very grateful that she missed cell phones, the internet and Instagram in these formative years. She believes that teenagers face bullying and shame on social media. “We had Cosmo and Cleo, that was it! If I wanted to feel bad, I just had to read one of them.”
Has your father’s work influenced your career path? “Yes – but not. I always laugh – he told me not to write books because there is no money in it.”
Instead, magazines waved. After studying media and communication at university, she landed an appearance at Cosmopolitan at the age of 23. It was an exciting day with magazines selling hundreds of thousands of copies and being virtual Bibles for many women. She later moved to Harper’s Bazaar as Beauty Director.
A happy snap in Tourism Australia’s Holiday Here campaign.
This experience in publishing, combined with exposure to beauty products and an emerging online industry, inspired her to launch Go-To, an organic skin care range, in 2014. To and Gro-To for men and children.
When she wrote about beauty, the most sensitive subject was animal testing. Go-To recently made headlines for two of its products that weren’t intended for a diverse consumer base – they were dragged off the shelves afterwards. “Now beauty is political; everything is political,” she says.
Although retail was closed for the past seven months, Go-To’s sales were up 100 percent year over year. Customers who want to shop locally have satisfied the demand. She wonders if online sales could continue to grow once the restrictions are lifted. “People go crazy from crowds, not going to Chadstone or wherever. We’ll all have weird PTSD when it comes to going out.”
Juggling so many projects sounds daunting, especially with two young children. It wouldn’t be possible three days a week without a nanny, she says. But it’s exhausting. “And I don’t even think it should be a goal, if I’m being completely honest. It really takes a toll. I think it was probably tightened in lockdown because I don’t have a subdivision,” she says.
“I feel like it’s kind of a mania. I love doing new projects. I’m so excited about a new idea and once it’s out I think, bye. I’d like to tone it down a bit – it ‘I would be nice if I feel a little more comfortable when I’m inactive. “
Clean Slate will be available through Audible on October 27th. Audible.com.au/cleanslate
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Kerrie is a senior cultural writer for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald
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