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Zoe Foster

Studio Visit

24th February, 2012
Lucy Feagins
Friday 24th February 2012

Zoe Foster

The Younger Man - a new novel by Zoe Foster - out this week!

OMG OMG watch out, legitimately famous person being interviewed on The Design Files!  I know, cool huh!?

I am a big fan of Zoe Foster. This mainly occured after I bought her insanely brilliant book Amazing Face, in which Zoe passes on all manner of makeup / DIY beautification techniques to her legions of adoring beauty-obsessed fans.  It's basically a resource full of all the make-up tricks and techniques that grown-up women should probably already know, but so very few do. And that, my friends, is part of Zoe's genius - quite simply, she writes stuff you ACTUALLY want to know.

The rest of the genius, of course, is Zoe's uniquely witty, self deprecating tone.  It is gold.  It's like 'I am the most popular girl in school, BUT, simultaneously, I am also the friendliest and the funniest, and actually I would quite like to be your friend'. These things do not normally come as a package deal.  But they do with Zoe Foster.

ANYHOO MS Foster really needs no introduction, but if I must, I would say this -  Zoe Foster comes to us today from a long and respected career as a beauty editor for Cosmo, then Harpers Bazaar, PRIMPED and now Mamamia.  When not on a one-woman mission to educate the masses about facial illuminators and sea salt-based hair product, Zoe also pens novels which more often than not turn out to be best-sellers!  AND she has a new one out this month!  The Younger Man has just hit bookshelves this week - DO check it out, it is so super entertaining, and we can only wonder... a smidgen autobiographical!? (for those residing underneath a rock in the Sahara desert, Ms Foster has recently become engaged to one very eligible and somewhat famous fella by the name of Hamish Blake.)

MASSIVE thanks to ZF for responding to my sheepish interview request with a YES, plus genuine enthuasiam!   We are so chuffed to have her.

ps. I must apologise to Zoe, I had every intention of figuring out how to add the 'dot dot' above the 'e' but have come to the conclusion that such a thing requires a level of keypad customisation currently beyond my limited technical knowhow.  And cut n paste just seemed a bit long winded. Sorry Zoe!!

One of Zoe's uber popular makeup tutorial videos. (this one actually is about hair).

Tell us a little about your background.

I grew up in a small, not-even-made-up town called Bundanoon (“Home to Australia’s biggest Scottish festival since 1977!”) and then bravely, immediately moved to the Sydney to study Media and Communications at UNSW, and fulfill my dreams of becoming (insert inspiring dream vocation.)

Did you always want to be a writer?

I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until I finished Uni and started instincitively hunting for magazine jobs. And then once I’d realised people would give me money to do something that didn’t even remotely feel like work, I decided to really sink my fangs into it, and do the best dingin’ job I could. (I’ll just wait here quietly for your admiring applause.)

What path led you to Cosmo in the early days and to Primped and to authoring real proper published books!?

I got the gig at Cosmo after grinding my journo teeth at kids and teen mags. Cosmo was followed by Harper’s BAZAAR, which was incredibly grown-up and fancy, and made me feel a bit like I’d “made it”, you know? From BAZAAR I popped on my silver unitard and headed to the future (“online”) to write for PRIMPED, and then onto where I’ve parked my caravan now, which is Mamamia.

As for books, it almost happened by accident. I wrote my first novel at 25 when I was full-time at Cosmo, and it essentially acted as an outlet for what I’ve since realised was a form of creative ADD. Now my books are my focus and my columns and blogging is secondary. I just re-read that sentence and think it might be the first time I have ever admitted that. What a gas!

Previous books by Zoe Foster, inluding 'Textbook Romance' - the book Zoe penned in collaboration with Hamish Blake (before they were going steady).

ZOE You such a GURU when it comes to all things beauty.  I, too, read every Dolly Magazine published between 1993 and 1997 yet still am 99% clueless when it comes to the fine art of makeup application. I secretly think many many women are in the same boat. I guess what I’m saying is ‘HOW do you KNOW this stuff!?’.

Just born with it I guess. Next question.

I jest! I jest. It’s easy to have great beauty tips when you’ve been a beauty editor for years, because you are constantly meeting brilliant makeup artists and hair stylists and skin care specialists. These clever crumpets are literally the best in their field, and often the whole world, and thankfully they are generous enough to share their wisdom, so that we can then pass it on to our voracious readers. We’re just vessels of information, really.

Amazing Face - the most amazing 'how to' beauty book ever.  Designed of course by Penguin book designer and previous TDF interviewee Allison Colpoys, who is a genius.

You have a book out this month called The Younger Man!   What inspired this book and what can we expect to discover within its pages?!

So much! So stinkin’ much. There’s love, heartbreak, lust, drama, too much swearing according to my mum, and a saucy sojourn to Italy… More specifically, it’s about a sassy bird in her early thirties, Abby, who hooks up with a dashing young prince called Marcus. And by young, I mean 22. Obviously this causes some distress for our alluring protagonist, especially when she accidentally falls in love with him, despite her head strenously advising she does not fall in love with him under any circumstances, even those involving wine and adorable, sexy text messages.

How is your business structured? Do you have an office and some assistance to help with all your various editorial commitments whilst you are simultaneously penning bestselling novels? Or is Zoe Foster inc. pretty much a one woman operation?

It’s just me, at my desk, thumping keys and wearing stylish fleecewear and drinking coffee. But when you break it down, my workload is entirely do-able, and no one can really help out, because it’s your writing, and you kind of have to do it yourself. But I love that element actually, because I’m naturally pre-disposed to Controlius Freakius Syndrome (CFS), and get a perverse thrill seeing my words pop up everywhere, and as an added bonus, actually have people want to read them.

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

My brain fires best in the early morning, so I indulge it by getting up at 7 and writing steadily til about lunchtime. By that time I am entirely distracted (Twitter, Tumblr, email, sunshine, pastries, kites etc) and take a few hours out. Then I’m back on deck from about 2 til 6. By that time my brain is roughly as firey as wet wood, so I don’t even pretend to do any work, I just eat and play and watch Homeland or Workaholics or Gossip Girl.

Can you list for us 5 resources across any media which you read regularly?

I really, really love the writing (and design) in Fantastic Man and US Esquire. Also I get shiploads of inspiration from all the maniacs posting funny shit on Twitter and Tumblr (comedians, mostly) and I cruise through a tonne of websites and blogs, but only usually on a per article basis, (usually as directed by people on Twitter).

Which Australian creative people, from any industry, are you most inspired by at the moment?

Well I love what you’re doing, Lucy, I’ll tell you that for a dollar, or even 50c if that’s all you have because you bought a soy latte for $3.50 and gave the barista $4 because it was that or break a $50 note. This is a splendid, beautiful, clever website and I am flattered to be on it.

What would be your dream project?

I’d love to write for TV. The Simpsons, preferably. (Too arrogant?)

What are you looking forward to?

I don’t mean to brag (yes, I definitely do) but I am heading off to the Greek Islands to start work on my next novel soon. To me, that is the ultimate: being able to splerch off at will, just me and my laptop (and extraordinarily heavy suitcases) and write anywhere in the world that takes my fancy. And Greece didn’t just take my fancy, it nicked it in broad daylight, wearing a neon tracksuit and a sandwich board that said “ATTENTION. I AM CURRENTLY STEALING YOUR FANCY.”

Sydney Questions

Your favourite Sydney neighbourhood and why?

Where I live, which is Potts Point. It has e v e r y t h i n g, if e v e r y t h i n g means “numerous and exceptional food options.” I go to sleep and an awesome new café pops up the next morning. I get some gloss out of my handbag and another resturant has manifested. It’s particularly buzzy and growthy around here at the moment, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. (If you visit, eat at Barrio Chino or Fratelli Fresh and then get spectacularly sauced at Roosevelt. Also, Lotus does the best cheeseburger in Sydney, so for the love of calories, DON’T miss that.)

Where do you shop in Sydney?

I am in a real ‘decorating’ stage at the moment, and love taking writing breaks to source terrific little ornaments and furniture for home. I love Seasonal Concepts in Redfern, Doug Up on Bourke in Alexandria, Lakota Trading in Kensington and Bronte Tram in, uh, Bronte.

Where / what was the last great meal you ate in Sydney?

My charming fiance and I cannot resist the breakfast rice at Room 10 which is in Llankelly place and not to be take lightly. We’re talking brown rice, pistachios, rose water, rhubarb, yoghurt, banana… Oh, goodness. You’re drooling. How deeply unstylish.

Sydney’s best kept secret?

…Would no longer be a secret if I came on here blasting it, would it. BUT. Since you’re so cute, I’ll give you a secret: the kiosk under Pier resturant at Rose Bay has exceptional bacon and egg rolls and the view is just magnificent. You feel like you’re on holidays. Terrific.

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