A chat with Wendy Harmer

What was your ultimate career ambition when you were growing up?
I desperately wanted to be a hairdresser or a florist. The life of an air hostess looked pretty appealing as well! I was aiming for full on glamour. Hilarious that I ended up in the world?s LEAST glamorous professions ? journalism, stand up comedy and radio!

What sort of training have you had?
I completed a Diploma of Vocational Writing at the Gordon Institute of Technology in Geelong. I then started my journalism cadetship with the Geelong Advertiser and finished it at the Melbourne Sun News Pictorial ( now the Herald Sun).
In the fields of comedy, radio and writing I am self taught?although I did have many fine mentors along the way ( all men, oddly enough!).

You were formally a political journalist ? what made you leave that career and head for comedy? Was it a difficult move?
I sometimes joke that I went from journalism to stand up comedy because I wanted a profession which would be more respected by the public!
Really, it was about self expression in the end. To make the move I changed newspapers and worked part-time and did the rounds of the comedy clubs by night. I was extremely lucky because this was in the eighties when the ?new wave? of comedy and cabaret was popular and there were lots of venues and few women working the circuit. I was made very welcome.
My big break came when I was chosen to join the team which brought you ?The Gillies Report? on the ABC? and the rest…as they say? is? blah blah blah!

Describe your typical day
I am up at about 6.45 am with the littlies. Marley, my son is seven, Maeve is five and they like an early start. Lucky for me eleven years in brekkie radio makes it seem like a sleep in!

My husband Brendan takes the kids to school. I clean the house and then settle in for a day of writing on my second novel ?Love and Punishment?. The day is variously exhilarating, lonely, frustrating, fun, but above all it is a fabulous luxury to have the time to write a novel after all these years of dreaming of doing it! The kids are back home at 3pm. There is homework to be done, dinner to be made , baths, bed and, then a bit more action with my book if I am lucky. Then I am in bed reading and asleep by 11 pm. I hardly watch television, don?t really like going to the movies. I would rather work on a project of my own.

You?ve have an incredibly diverse career, working on stage, in radio, television and print newspapers and magazines as well as writing numerous adult and children?s books. Which is your favourite medium?
This will sound as if I am some sort of goody-goody, but I think I am actually one of life?s enthusiasts. I just love whatever I am doing at the time! You will notice that I have never had to be a process worker or an office slave or a truck driver, so all the choices I have are equally wonderful. I feel very, very lucky.
I like to try all sorts of different mediums, so while I have probably ended up a jack of all trades and master of none, I am never bored. I would like to write more musical theatre.

A chat with Wendy Harmer (con’t)