THE HIVE: Rebecca Burton

I’m back … again.

I know you’re probably all sick of me making little posts stating that the number of posts per week will increase and then … nothing.

Recently, while I have planned and drafted a few blog posts, the only posts which have gone up are my No Buy UPDATES. And I’m ashamed of that, but school has had to take top priority and of course, planning out my itinerary when I go to MELBOURNE on Tuesday the 22nd of September– eek! (more info on that to come)

I’m planning to publish one post per week (every second week it will be two, including No Buy Updates).

Please leave me comments suggesting blog posts for me to write – what do you want to see? Reviews? Rants? A life update? A Tag? Mental health discussion?

I can list my favourite authors of all time on one hand and I have interviewed one of these. Rebecca Burton is an author and blogger from Adelaide, who has written several books, including Leaving Jetty Road (unfortunately, all of her novels are now out of print *sad face*). I urge you to track down her books; I myself have only read LJR, which I believe anyone can relate to. Whether you’re simply in high school, suffer from a mental illness, have anorexia, are in love for the first time … It covers all bases. I have managed to track down her other novel Beyond Evie on both Amazon and eBay, for very affordable prices.

Burton is a woman who incorporates her personal experiences, beliefs and story within her books, but is not at all patronising. Rather, her writing is inviting and encourages the reader to ponder and reflect on the story.

On with the show!

1. What did you want to be when you were little?

I always wanted to be a writer, funnily enough. Back then though, I thought that would be all I’d need to do. I didn’t understand that most writers have to have other jobs or careers too, so that they can support themselves financially.

2. What was your favourite subject in high school?
English, by far.

3. When did you decide that you wanted to be an author?
I can’t remember when I didn’t want to be an author, honestly.

4. What is one goal or dream you have, that you have yet to achieve?

I’d like to write a novel for adults. I’ve started trying to do that, but I haven’t got there yet! I’d also like to write a non-fiction book about birds / nature/ the Aldinga Scrub. I’d also like to go to yoga classes every day and get really good at yoga!

5. If you could write a book with anyone, who would it be and why?

I can’t imagine writing a book with anyone else, to be honest. I find writing to be an intensely personal, private process. Although, if I ever managed to write a picture book for kids, I’d love to have Adelaide author and illustrator Sally Heinrich as my illustrator. I love her art and the books she’s illustrated.

6. Who is your favourite Aussie author?

I don’t have a favourite one. I love some (but not all) of Joanne Horniman’s books. And some of Melina Marchetta’s. And some of Nick Earls’s.

7. Do you know why your two novels are out of print?

Mostly, it’s because I write very slowly, and so readers forget about me in between publications and stop buying my books. To keep your books in print, you have to publish regularly and often … or just write a major bestseller.

8. What inspired ‘Leaving Jetty Road’ and what would you like readers to take from the novel?

Partly, I wanted to write a book with a character who experienced anorexia nervosa because I was anorexic when I was sixteen, and I couldn’t find any books at that time that truly reflected my experiences. The most terrifying thing for me at that time wasn’t my eating disorder at all, but rather the anxiety disorder that I also had along with the anorexia. I wanted young readers to be able to find a book where the writer made it clear that anorexia isn’t always about eating or not eating. It can be about depression, anxiety, fear … all of those things. And sometimes those things are harder to come to terms with, and heal from, than the simple act of not eating. I also wanted to write a book that was obviously set in Adelaide, because no-one ever sets their books in Adelaide – they’re always in Sydney or Melbourne or England or the US. What’s wrong with Adelaide?! Why can’t we write about it? I hope readers will take away my love for Adelaide from Leaving Jetty Road. I hope they’ll see it’s a place worth reading about.

9. How do you, personally, relate to Lise, Nat and Sofia in LJR?

Lise and Nat are both very closely related to me personally – each have (very different) aspects of my own personality and my own experiences. You could say Lise reflects the scared, ‘negative’ part of me and Nat reflects the brave, happy, ‘positive’ part of me (at least, at the time I wrote the book, which is over ten years ago now). I love Sofia because she’s so happy, carefree, balanced and joyful. I’ve met a few people in my life like that, and they’re special people. I’d love to be more like Sofia, but I’m not.

10.Are there any ‘taboo’ topics or subjects that you never include in your books?

I talk about sex, but I never describe it specifically – the body parts and the actions. I prefer just to hint at it and leave the rest to my readers’ imaginations. Also, I never, ever use swear words. I wouldn’t even use them if I was writing for an adult audience. In my own life, I do swear – I think almost everyone does – but I prefer books not to have swearing in them. You can write vividly and strongly and colourfully without resorting to swearing. Yes, even in dialogue!

11.If you could go back in time, would you change anything in your published works?

Yes. I would write Beyond Evie slightly differently. I would leave out all the foreshadowing, which I think I overdid.

Also, I would use less italics in Leaving Jetty Road, definitely!

12.What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer, or to have their work published?

Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. And don’t go to university and do a Creative Writing degree. Just don’t! Develop your own writing skills, on your own. Be brave. Understand that writing is about talent and craft and patience and bravery, and universities can’t teach you those things. Ever. Don’t believe people who tell you they can. They’re wrong.

13. Where can people find your two books?

Sadly, they’re out of print now. If you google their titles, you might be able to download (free) ebook versions of them. You can also try Amazon. You never know your luck!

14. What do you like to do in your spare time?

When I’m not working in my paid job or writing, I like to swim in the sea. I do yoga in my bedroom. I cycle (a bit). I watch birds … a lot. I bake (mostly wheat-free) cakes. I hang out and go camping with my ‘other half’. I write my blog. (Click here to go to Rebecca’s blog). I confess I also like watching reality TV cookery shows, Survivor, and Home and Away. Oh, and I love going to the library to borrow (more!) books.

15. What is your signature makeup look?

Okay, a confession — I never wear make-up. Ever! I’ve tried, but I can’t manage it. And I don’t blowdry my hair, either. Partly, I just feel fake and uncomfortable in make-up, though I’ve never been able to work out why, and I wish I didn’t feel that way, particularly as I get older. Partly, I’m an environmentalist and I don’t like using extra power or beauty products which affect the environment negatively. Yes, really! So my signature make-up look would have to be, simply, ‘natural’. Take me as I am. The only beauty product I ever use is my own home-made face cleanser and moisturiser (which is made from olive oil, pure soap and glycerine, and which I swear by) and Jurlique rose hand cream, which is beautiful.

16. What is your favourite lipstick? (please include brand, shade name – description of colour if needed – and finish – matte, creme sheen, glossy etc)

None. See my answer above. Sorry!

17. What’s the one beauty sin that should never be committed?

You’re asking the wrong person here! Umm … too much make-up?

18. What are your thoughts on girls around 15 years of age wearing a substantial amount of makeup? (read: full-coverage foundation, concealer, heavy bronzer, blush, liberally-applied mascara, eyeshadow, eyeliner and a bright lipstick or gloss)

I think it’s sad. Why can’t they be proud of themselves the way they are? I also think it makes (some) men get the wrong idea.

19. Which of your physical features is your favourite and why?

I’m lucky enough to be fairly slim. I don’t put on weight easily. Partly that’s because I eat reasonably healthily and exercise reasonably often, but partly it’s just plain luck and I’m grateful for it. It makes it easy to buy clothes that look okay on me, especially since I don’t wear make-up or have styled hair.

20. If there was a piece of advice that you would give to your teenage self, what would it be?

  1. Eat more. Seriously! Who cares if you’re 3 kilograms heavier than you want to be?
  2. Exercise more. It doesn’t matter if you’re bad at team sports. You can still walk and swim and cycle and run. Also, you will feel so much better after you’ve had some exercise, as it makes you feel healthy and strong.
  3. And finally … Think seriously about getting a proper career – either a trade or a profession. Don’t just let yourself land up doing an Arts Degree (which is what I actually did). Writing will never support you financially, and a career is useful.

Rebecca Burton has lived within walking distance of various South Australian beaches for much of her adult life. Over the years, she has dabbled in vegetarianism, overseas travel and full-time employment; but she is now happily settled in a life made up partly of work and partly of writing. She lives with her partner, Wayne, and their two dogs. In her spare time, she loves baking cakes, drinking endless cups of tea, growing Trees for Life and (of course) eating broccoli. (Biography copyright of

Copyright of Rebecca Burton. (original source: see end of post)
Copyright of Rebecca Burton.
(original source: see end of post)
Copyright of Rebecca Burton.
(original source: see end of post)

Links to sources of book covers






THE HIVE: Benjamin Law

About 3.5 weeks ago, I had the pleasure of ringing up Mr Benjamin Law at 6.20pm and having a little chat.

I would be lying if I said that I was cool, calm and collected.

I was excited, in awe and a little tired after hurrying home after flamenco class, kicking off my heels, grabbing the phone, peeing (in the toilet) in a state of nervous excitement, before jabbing Law’s mobile number into the ‘Interview With A Great Writer and Awesome Human Being’ virgin device.

The warm, friendly and husky voice that is unmistakably Ben Law answered and I somehow managed not to drown in a state of excitement, nausea and utter admiration.  I – an English-loving fifteen year old – was about to interview Mr Benjamin Law. I am unashamed to say that I have somewhat made sweet love to the pages of his words in a completely non-sexual way.

Did that sound creepy?


Shall we get into the interview?

That’s probably best.

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1. How did your parents encourage your writing?

I didn’t even necessarily want to be a writer when I was growing up, but I was a big reader. I was constantly reading; the one thing that my mum and dad never thought was a waste of money was books. We grew up with a lot of books in our household; they just thought it was really important for me and my four brothers and sisters to be well-read. There was always reading. I think my mum’s still got set recordings of us in bed together, which is kind of cute. Look, to be honest, later in life when I wanted to be a writer, my parents had the same attitude towards me that they had towards all of our siblings, which is ‘whatever you choose to do in life, make sure you like it, make sure you’re good at it and make sure you can earn money from it’. They never really said that explicitly, but they were always framing what we chose in life around those three things, which is a pretty good attitude for parents to have and in terms of the Chinese community, they’re different in that way.

2. What initially inspired you to begin writing and why do you continue to write today?

I think I wanted to write because I like reading. I read a lot of books growing up, but I was a huge fan of magazines when I was a teenager, like Rolling Stone and Juice and being in the Queensland suburb of the Sunshine Coast, which is not a city or anything, reading those stories about the world and about people I’d never meet, made the world feel close and amazing. One of the reasons I wanted to write was to explore the world.  I think what I love about writing and why it’s a privilege, is that it’s an education that I get to share with people. Every time I write a new story, I’m educating myself about someone or something and by writing it, I get to share it and that feels kind of fantastic. I guess the other thing is that writing is a profession that has allowed me to travel around the world, meet people and make friends I wouldn’t have made or met otherwise. I guess that writing fulfills that basic curiosity in me. If you’re the kind of person who’s always being called out for being a ‘busybody’ or a ‘stickybeak’, writing’s not a bad profession. You get to get to be a busybody and stickybeak and get paid for it.

3. What is one of your favourite pieces that you have written and why?

I’m not sure if I have a favourite, but I’ve got ones that are probably quite memorable to me. It’s probably the more serious pieces. Like I’ve got my weekly column in Good Weekend, I’m probably known for my funny pieces in frankie and I really like writing them; I have such a blast writing them. However, the stories that stay with me are probably about people who allowed me to access their life stories and these life stories are not necessarily ones that are usually shared with people. I wrote a piece in Good Weekend several months ago, about people who are in couples and one of the partners comes out as transgender midway through the relationship. I’ve written about people who’ve been survivors of sexual abuse within the family and these people were incredibly brave to share their story with me, as well. I think those stories, in particular, stand out to me.

4. What makes a good writer, as opposed to what makes a poor writer?

A great writer knows their craft inside out. A great writer has probably read their entire life and are curious. A great writer knows the heart of the story as well; they know the big, central question in a story. There are so many different types of great writers, to be honest. There are some writers who are just so funny and other writers who have great journalistic access and there are other writers who just really know how to describe a place perfectly, to make you feel like you’re right in a foreign city you’ve never visited before. I think different writers have different skills and like people, I think writers have their strengths and weaknesses as well. I know what mine are – not going to tell you – but there are so many different things that make a good writer, but I think basic human curiosity is what makes a good writer and to be honest, a good human being.

5. Which has been the most helpful criticism that you have received, that has assisted in developing your writing?

I was once told, ‘Look: not everything needs to be a joke.’ I think he (the writer) reviewed my second book Gaysia and he told me to be confident in the fact that if I’m writing a serious story, just really own the fact that it’s serious and go hard into its content and what the story means. If I’m going to write funny, then sure, go for funny, but I think for a long time I fell back on a lot of jokes, because I wasn’t confident enough that people would be willing to read something that was really serious, unless I had wisecracks in there. That was a really good lesson, but to be honest, I’ve been told many times, ‘Stop writing about gross things, like poo!’ I think that’s not bad advice. I probably write about gross stuff too often. I think the best thing for any writer to do, is to be open to criticism. You can get a little bit cocky sometimes, but then again, there are a lot of writers who have this crippling lack of confidence and that can be a problem, too. Criticism has to be taken on its own merits, as well.

6. How does an emerging writer get their work published?

One thing is having the tenacity to send your work to a lot of editors, to a lot of competitions. The difference between a good writer who continues to write for a living and a good writer who doesn’t, is often community, whether you feel like you have friends in the industry who support you. It’s a really learning profession and by definition, you’re at a desk, alone, working on big stories, especially if you’re a freelancer and if you don’t feel like you’ve got friends you can talk to about the very particular stuff associated with writing, whether it be a lack of confidence, anxiety about what you’re writing or even boring things, like back pain, because you’re sitting or standing at your desk all day, it’s really, really difficult, because it’s such an isolating experience, unless you have those people around you. The first thing’s the tenacity to approach people, the second thing is a sense of community and the third is never losing that, as I keep saying, utter sense of childlike curiosity.

7. How did your appearance on Ted Talks all come about?

To be honest, they just asked me. I wasn’t really thinking that I was up for it. I mean, it’s a really big ask to get up and do a talk with no notes. I’m not sure I’d even do it again, to be honest. I think that says more about my brain. I think some people are really good orators and I definitely need notes most of the time. They just approached me. I think I’d been writing a lot about LGBT issues and it was clear that I had something to say. My sister (Michelle) has appeared on Ted Talks as well and she’s particularly great at it.

Benjamin Law’s Ted Talk

Michelle Law’s Ted Talk #1

Michelle Law’s Ted Talk #2

8. As an openly gay adult, what advice do you have for people (especially teens) trying to work out their sexuality?

One – don’t rush. There’s no need for you to come out until you feel completely safe doing so. Two – again, find your community; don’t feel like you’re alone. The great thing about young people nowadays and the lucky thing for them is that the internet’s so readily available. I sort of came out when dial-up was still pretty new and so the fact that you can go online and find other young people like you, I think is really important. This sounds really weird, but find people like you, who are queer, that you don’t necessarily want to sleep with. Find platonic friends who will be there for you, because often you end up sleeping with people you’re attracted to and then, if they’re the only people you associate with who are queer, you don’t have that many ongoing friends around you. Find those people from all walks of queer life and all types of queer identities, who can be your allies and friends. If you live in a small country town or you live in a regional area that you don’t feel connected to or you don’t have that community around you, you might want to consider moving to a bigger city at some stage.

9. Do you think that there is a legitimate reason for gay marriage not to be legalised in Australia?

No and I think the majority of Australians don’t, either. I think the most frustrating thing is that most Australians are either passionate about it and then a lot of people just think that it’s just a non-issue. The people that do think that is an issue, or who have something against it need to realise that it doesn’t affect their lives. That’s the thing; it affects people who are being legislated against right now, so no, in answer to your question, no – I can’t see any reasons why you should be legitimately discriminated against on a legal basis.

10. Why do you think that Australian authors are a central part of our society and culture?

Writers, like any artist, define our national identity. We tell the stories about our people, as well. Culture and the arts, which writing is such a great part, is very important. We’re a small nation, we’re 25 million people; that’s like a small European nation and we’ve got a great landmass. The other thing beyond that, is we’ve got a really complicated history as well, in terms of race relations, in terms of Indigenous and non-Indigenous race relations and we’re a unique country, with a unique history. Unless you have writers telling those stories, whether it’s through fiction or non-fiction, you don’t really come to understand Australia. I mean, I remember reading The Secret River by Kate Grenville for the first time, and I don’t know if you’ve read that book, but if you do, it’s like a punch to the gut, that this really brutal story and many like it, are a part of our national history and how our country was formed. We don’t often own up to that, so it’s about understanding ourselves. That’s why I think writing is so important in this country.

11. Do you think that journalism truly has a future in Australia?

Yeah, absolutely. Where journalism ends up, that’s a great question and, like you say, the newspaper industry is definitely in a very different phase of its evolution. Journalism won’t die; people want to know what’s actually happening. When you’re talking about journalism, it sounds like you’re talking very specifically about print journalism. Broadcast journalism and digital journalism has never been more robust. I think print’s just finding its place in the world, but print won’t die out, either. I think people have a hunger for longer stories. Where we actually find it, that’s debatable.

Bio (taken from ‘About‘ on Law’s website)

Benjamin Law is a Sydney-based journalist, columnist and screenwriter, and has completed a PhD in television writing and cultural studies.

He is the author of two books—The Family Law (2010) and Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012)—and the co-author of the comedy book Shit Asian Mothers Say (2014) with his sister Michelle and illustrator Oslo Davis. The Family Law has been translated into French and is currently being developed for television. Gaysia was published in India in 2013 and North America in 2014. Both of his books have been nominated for Australian Book Industry Awards, and he is now working on his next.

Benjamin is a frequent contributor to Good Weekend (The Sydney Morning Herald/The Age)frankieand The Monthly. He has also written for over 50 publications, businesses and agencies in Australia and worldwide, including:

•  AAP (Australian Associated Press)
•  ABC’s The Drum
•  The Age

•  The Australian
 The Australian Financial Review
•  The Australian Way (Qantas)
•  Australian Traveller
•  The Big Issue
•  Cleo
•  Cosmopolitan
•  The Courier Mail

•  Crikey
•  Daily Life
•  Dew Process
•  Feast
•  frankie
•  Get Lost
•  Good Weekend (The Sydney Morning Herald / The Age)
•  Griffith Review
•  The Guardian
•  Hello Mr.
•  Hide & Seek
•  Kill Your Darlings
•  The Lifted Brow
•  The Monthly
•  New Matilda
•  Newswrite
•  Overland
•  Peril
•  Qweekend (The Courier Mail)
•  Salt
•  Smith Journal
•  Sunday Life  (The Sydney Morning Herald / The Age)
•  The Sydney Morning Herald
•  The Sydney Star Observer
•  Travel and Leisure: South East Asia
•  Treadlie
 Vogue: Living
•  Voiceworks
•  The Walkley Magazine
•  Winq

Contact Ben

You can discuss a love of poop (or whatever random thing springs to mind) with Mr Benjamin Law, through …

Twitter @mrbenjaminlaw

Instagram @mrbenjaminlaw

Website Contact Page


That’s it for this edition of The Hive, but I’ll see you back here on Wednesday.



THE HIVE: Tracey Spicer

Hello and welcome back to the third instalment of The Hive!

This week’s edition features an interview with Channel 10 newsreader, TV personality and Ted Talk-er extraordinare, Tracey Spicer.

Tracey is in her mid-forties and is a mum of two. She’s also a feminist, a comedian and has a straight-talking, no bullshit attitude.

I first saw Spicer’s incredible Ted Talk The Lady Stripped Bare about 6 months ago. It really got me thinking about the amount of time many women spend on their appearances every day and why we do it.

Tracey Spicer is open about her own routine, including spending 45 minutes on her hair, before each and every TV appearance. Spicer says in the Talk that she takes things very ‘literally’ as she removes the ‘several inches’ of makeup off her face, spritzes her straight hair styled to perfection with water, takes off her dress and kicks off her stilettos.

I have great respect for Tracey Spicer, primarily because she practices what she preaches. As she says in her Ted Talk, she has cut back her pre-TV grooming routine and doesn’t wear makeup offset.

Spicer encourages to look and ourselves and say, ‘What could I either cut down on, or get rid of entirely?’ She is refreshing, as she doesn’t go all dogma and say, ‘You have to do this’; she simply invites us to evaluate our routines.

Without any further ado, I welcome to the stage, Mrs Tracey Spicer …

1. Have you ever wanted to be anything else, apart from a newsreader / TV personality?

I always wanted to be a journalist. From a very young age, I was extremely inquisitive. Then, I wrote for the school newspaper, before completing a Communications degree in 1987. Like many young women during that era, I was inspired by Jana Wendt.

2. What are your ultimate goals as a newsreader?

Truly, I hope to work in the media, whether it’s TV, radio, newspaper or online – until the day I die. I love story-telling.

3. How have the values that your parents instilled in you as a child, affected the raising of your two children, Taj and Grace?

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a very close family. The four of us did everything together. Hubby and I bring the same philosophy to raising Taj and Grace. We are a tight-knit group. I guess our parenting style could be described as firm, but loving.

4. In your Ted Talk, you went through your full makeup routine, which occurs before every TV appearance. You said that you wanted to minimise the makeup that you wear on screen, as it was all ‘bullshit’. Currently, what is your makeup routine for TV?

At Sky News, the presenters do their own hair and makeup. It’s wonderful have control over your own image. I do a very light makeup. Unfortunately, I can’t go completely barefaced on TV, because it’s too distracting. You want the audience to focus on the news on the day, not how ‘strange’ your face looks.

5. Have you changed as a person, since ditching and / or minimising aspects of your grooming?

I definitely have more time! I’m currently taking guitar and singing lessons, and doing hours of paddle-boarding, instead of spending up to an hour a day grooming. I also find I’m more relaxed going out socially. Previously, I put a lot of effort into how I appeared. Now, frankly, I don’t care too much!

6. Why do you think it took you so long to evaluate and change your grooming routine?

Humans are creatures of habit. For more than 20 years, I had been wearing a mask. We become accustomed to seeing ourselves in a certain way. It’s tough to change that.

7. Why do you think the media Photoshops and edits so many of the images that are shown to the public?

There are many reasons: advertisers want their products to be shown in the best light; humans like to look at conventionally attractive faces. Fortunately, we’re seeing a backlash against this, where consumers are demanding more realistic images.

8. What are your thoughts on girls around 15 years of age wearing a substantial amount of makeup? (read: full-coverage foundation, concealer, heavy bronzer, blush, liberally-applied mascara and a bright lipstick or gloss)

I think it’s sad that young women feel they need to wear so much makeup. If you’re a creative person, and enjoy the artistic aspect of it, then go for it! But please don’t use it as a mask. We all need to learn to love ourselves a little more.

9. On November 17th 2014, Elizabeth Clarke published an article on The Sydney Morning Herald’s website, entitled ‘In response to Tracey Spicer: Why wearing makeup makes my day’. Clarke makes a comment, ‘Unlike Tracey, I don’t mind my daughter watching this “elaborate ritual”; I invite her to. I want her to know that looking after yourself foes not make you vain or shallow. It is an expression of self-pride. Plus painting over yellowed nails and plucking unwanted facial hairs definitely gives you the edge.’ Ms Spicer, Is the reason you don’t particularly like your daughter Grace, to sit in on your grooming routine, that you are concerned that her viewing of her grooming could further influence her to wear an excessive amount of makeup and spend an astronomical amount of time on her appearance, as she moves into her teenage years, along with the pressure from the media to act, dress and look a particular way?

Yes, that’s exactly right. I would like Grace to be her own person. She should make choices based on her own satisfaction, rather than the external validation of an increasingly consumerised society.

10. People seem to be ashamed of publicly admitting their flaws, but why are we? Aren’t our flaws part of what makes us human? (and) What are some of your flaws?

We should all be admitting our flaws! It actually makes us more likeable. I can be vain and selfish and pig-headed. Nobody is perfect.

11. Bill Shorten (leader of the Federal Opposition (Labor) party in Australia) has now pledged to legalise gay marriage within 100 days of Labor being elected into parliament.

a) Do you think that this promise puts pressure on Toby Abbott to re-evaluate his stance on ever moving to legalise gay marriage?

Sadly, no. I think Tony Abbott revels in his image as an ultra-Conservative. He will simply keep saying that there are more important matters for the government to deal with.

b) Do you think that more people will vote Labor at the next Federal election, because of this major political move?

Shorten’s promise will definitely win Labor some votes, but I wonder how many of those are from traditional Liberal voters. Probably very few.

12. Why do you think that Tony Abbott (Australian Prime Minister) (and up until now, Bill Shorten) is so against legalising homosexual marriage?

There is a higher percentage of practicing Christians in the Federal parliament than the general population. This is also why it’s so hard to get any commitment on voluntary euthanasia legislation. I don’t think politicians’ religious convictions should stand in the way of change, which is being urged by the vast majority of the electorate.

Say g’day to Tracey on Twitter!

THE HIVE: Jade Madden

Welcome back to the second instalment of The Hive!

I’m sure that you all loved Lizzie and here’s another Aussie! (Can’t resist ’em. 😉 ).

Jade Madden is a cruelty-free beauty YouTuber and blogger, with rainbow hair.


Rainbow hair.


It’s so awesome!

(insert pic of Jade here)

What am I waiting for? Let’s get to know Miss Jade Madden!

  1. When and why did you decide to start your own YouTube channel? I’ll take you back a few years! It all started when I started my hairdressing apprenticeship. My boss would tell me that looking the part and being presentable was very important! At the age of 16, I didn’t really know much about makeup, so I turned to YouTube! I remember being blown away at what people could do with makeup. Instantly I feel in love! I started recreating the tutorials I was watching on myself. People started complimenting me, asking “How did you do that!?” and “Can you teach me!?”. I started posting pictorials on my Facebook page with step-by-step instructions. Then later on that year, my husband bought Jeffree my first video recorder and the rest is history!
  2. What is the aim of your channel? My channel has always been beauty-related, but I have always wanted it to be  more then that! My aim Jeffree always been to encourage and inspire others to just be themselves, no matter what society feels is “beautiful” or “how you should look”. I want my viewers to go away feeling empowered and happy about who they are!
  3. What is the ultimate goal of your channel? My ultimate goal for my channel (other than in question 2), is to grow my channel as much as I can, and to spread the message about cruelty-free beauty, showing you can still look amazing when using only cruelty-free products!
  4. When and why did you decide to go cruelty-free? I wish I had made the decision a lot sooner! When I first started my channel, I wasn’t cruelty-free. I was actually working on creating videos for Maybelline at the time of deciding to go cruelty-free! What really changed it for me was when my workmate (a passionate vegan) gave me a DVD to watch called “Earthlings”. For all of you out there who have seen it, well, you’ll know what I mean. For those of you who haven’t, I recommend you watch it (but have a box of tissues with you!). After watching that, I went cruelty-free!
  5. To what extent are you cruelty-free? (eg. vegan) Yes, I am vegan! Well, I eat as a vegan, though I am slowly transitioning to all vegan makeup. However, not everything I use at the moment is vegan. Beeswax is the most common non-vegan product that I have in my cruelty-free makeup collection.
  6. What message do you have for people who purchase cosmetics tested on animals? Ignorance is bliss. It’s very easy to say ‘out of sight, out of mind’, but I urge you to educate yourself. Do some research into the horrors that these companies inflict on helpless animals and it may change your mind. I’m at the stage now when I picture a makeup brand that tests on animals, all I see is pain and suffering. Very similar to how cigarette companies have to post awful pictures on their packaging, I see the same on the packaging of companies who test on animals! Looking at it that way, it’s now very easy for me to steer clear of those brands. 
  7. What message do you have for cosmetic companies who test on animals? Stop being greedy! Many of these companies earn millions and millions of dollars; they can afford not to sell to China! They just choose not to! I say to them, “Make a stand! Be brave and think about what you’re doing.” I would also urge the CEOs of the companies to go into the labs and witness the cruelty for themselves. 
  8. Which makeup brand would you love to purchase from, but won’t because they test on animals? M.A.C. – hands down! They have so much power in the makeup and beauty community. If they would stand up for animal rights, then I know other companies would follow. 
  9. Who are some of your favourite Aussie YouTubers and why? Oh, this is so hard, as there are so many! I love Chloe Morello, as she’s just so talented and has such wonderful creative ideas. I also love Mel from tango2+, Natalie from Community Channel and Melinda from MelindaINT, but honestly, I would be here forever naming them all … because I LOVE THEM ALL!!
  10. Which is your favourite drugstore makeup brand and which of their products is your absolute fave/must-have? I absolutely love Essence and Australis … well, I love all cruelty-free drugstore makeup! I would say that the Australis Makeup Finishing Spritz is a must-have and I use it as a primer, rather than a finishing spritz (though using it both ways is great, too!). OMG, it’s amazing! It transforms your makeup, making it last all day and all night!
  11. Which is your favourite high-end makeup brand and which of their products is your absolute fave/must-have? I would have to say Anastasia Beverly Hills. It’s so incredible that they are cruelty-free and their makeup has become a staple in my makeup collection!
  12. What is your signature makeup look? I would say a bright bold lip (colour usually changes, but I do love my pink!), strong cat liner and very neutral eyeshadows! Gotta love a statement lippie.
  13. What are your handbag beauty essentials? Always a mirror, lipgloss or balm, blotting tissues, face powder and mints!
  14. What is your favourite lipstick and why? I have been loving the matte liquid lipstick craze, especially as I love bright lipsticks. Having one that lasts all day and doesn’t budge when you eat or drink, is fantastic! This is a hard question to answer, as there are so many that I love. But at this present moment, I would have to say Jeffree Star’s Velour Liquid Lipstick in ‘Prom Queen’.
  15. Do you believe in ‘beauty sins’? If so, which ones should, under no circumstance, be committed? Yes, I do – to some extent. I know there are so many “Makeup Rules”, but to me there are no real rules with makeup. (After all) It washes off, so go to town! But beauty sins … well! My number 1 beauty sin that should never be committed, is going to bed with makeup on! I had it drilled into me when I was younger that if you wear makeup, you MUST wash it off before bed. And to this day, I ALWAYS remove my makeup before bed, no matter how tired, or (let’s be honest) tipsy I am!
  16. What are your thoughts on girls around 15 years of age, wearing a substantial amount of makeup? (read: full-coverage foundation, concealer, heavy bronzer, blush, liberally-applied mascara and a bright lipstick or gloss) This is a tricky one. I know when I was that age, I wore makeup; never full makeup, but I didn’t really know how to apply makeup back then. Times have changed so much! Kids are growing up so much faster and a normal 15 year old these days, is like me when I was 18. Makeup advice and tutorials are so much more accessible these days, especially with social media. I know that if I was growing up now, I would probably be applying my makeup very differently to how I was back then! A lot of girls look up to social media queens and they really do get inspired. A lot of these social media queens do wear a lot of makeup and (these young girls) are starting to see it as a must and ‘just what everyone else does’. I feel that if they want to do it, they are going to do it. But I know that with my little sister (she’s 13), I want to teach her the correct ways of wearing makeup, so that she won’t resort to caking it on!
  17. Which brand and products do you use to dye your hair and are they also cruelty-free? I am a La Riche Directions kind of girl! I have used many, MANY brands in the past, and none of them compare to Directions for colour payoff and lasting factor. And of course, they are cruelty-free! WOOHOO!!
  18. How often do you change the colour(/s) of your hair? Usually every 6 months or so. I tend to stick with one colour for a while, then start scheming my next hair colour adventure! It’s safe to say that I have literally been every colour. 
  19. Which of your physical features is your favourite and why? I would have to say my smile. I’ve always been a very happy, positive person. I love that when I smile, it makes others feel happy and makes them want to be happier, too! I’ve always known that a positive attitude is infectious!!
  20. Do you prefer writing your blog Jade Madden: Cruelty Free Beauty or making videos for your YouTube channel? I do love both. To be honest, however, I rarely get a chance to write on my blog, as opposed to YouTube! YouTube has always been my first priority. Hopefully, one day when I’m doing YouTube full-time, I’ll be able to set aside a few days a week for blog-writing, as I really do love it.

THE HIVE: Lizzie Wilcock

Aerodynamically, the bumble bee should not be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know it, so it goes on flying anyway. – Mary Kay Ash

Welcome to the very first edition (edition? It’s not a version of a book or something – we’ll roll with it).

Welcome to the very first edition of The Hive, where I bring to you inspiring people, places and things. Things that have been worked for. Things which are, debatably, the ultimate prize. Things that truly are … The Hive. 

Meet Lizzie Wilcock. Aussie born and bred teacher and author in her free time. Newcastle inhabitant.

Copyright Peter Stoop.
Copyright Peter Stoop.

1. What did you want to be when you were little?

A nun. I wasn’t religious, but I went to a Catholic school and my teachers were nuns. They lived in a convent and they played guitars and went on camps. It seemed like a lot of fun to me.

2. What was your favourite subject in high school?

Ancient History – I had the most amazing teacher who could tell stories about the Ancient Greeks and Romans as if he was one of them. Plus, he was cute.

3. When did you decide that you wanted to be an author?

My Year 9 English teacher, Mary Debenham, told me I should become a writer. Her belief in my ability stuck with me all these years and although I didn’t start writing straight away, I always wondered, “What if she is right?”

4. Who or what inspires you and your writing?

My Year 5 students: I see what they read, I listen to their talk, I watch how they interact. Their enthusiasm for reading inspires me to write, and their personalities inspire my characters. 

5. What is one goal or dream you have for yourself?

I want to keep writing and being published. I would like to write a children’s picture book one day, and also Romantic fiction. It is a huge market and I would like to see if I can crack it. 

6. Which are your favourite authors and why?

I read a lot of Australian authors in both YA and Children’s Fiction. I like to support our local talent and I can really relate to the stories they tell. 

7. If you could collaborate and write a book with anyone, who would it be and why?

I am sure everyone says this but JK Rowling – not so much for her style, but for the millions of dollars I would make. I could then retire from my full time job and concentrate on my writing.

8. So far, which has been your favourite book that you’ve written?

I really love all of my books, but my favourite would be my first novel, Losing It. I was under no pressure to write it so I could take my time and make every sentence and description unique. I really love each of my characters in Losing It. The first book is always special. 

9. Are there any ‘taboo’ topics or subjects that you never include in your books?

I would write about anything if my publishers would allow me to, but with YA and children’s fiction, many topics are taboo. 

10. If you could go back in time, would you change anything in your published works?

I would change the name I write under. Lizzie Wilcock is my maiden name, but Lizzie Beck is my married name. I have often wondered whether book sales would be higher if I was at the start of the alphabet. Most people have found something they like by the time they get to the ‘M’ section in a bookshop or library.

11. What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer, or to have their work published?

Do it! Don’t keep thinking about it for years like I did. Write that book, make it the best that it can be, do your research on publishers, then send it out to the right ones. 

12. Is writing your full-time occupation?

No, I am a full time primary school teacher.

13. What do you like to do in your spare time?

Write! Spare time is like diamonds – rare, precious, and very expensive to buy. I have an eight year old daughter, so that explains all.

14. What is your signature makeup look?

Foundation to hide my freckles, eyeshadow to match my clothing tones, charcoal eyeliner and mascara. Lip gloss in natural tones. 

15. What are your handbag beauty essentials?

Lip balm. I am too busy to bother touching up makeup at work.

16. What is your favourite lipstick and why?

I buy my daughter a ten pack of scented lip balms for Christmas every year from Lovisa. I usually end up with my favourite flavours in my handbag – strawberry, vanilla and sherbet. She never seems to notice.

17. What’s the one beauty sin that should never be committed?

I’m not sure what the beauty sins are, but I am sure I have committed all of them. But for me, I always make sure I get to the hairdresser before my greys start to show through again. 

18. What are your thoughts on girls around 15 years of age wearing a substantial amount of makeup?

I have three gorgeous nieces who are around this age. They wear a lot of makeup, but they have learned, mostly through watching YouTube, about what shades to buy and how to apply makeup to accentuate their features. Bright lipstick is a no-no. 

19. Which of your physical features is your favourite and why?

I like the fact that I am naturally slim and petite. This means I am still a size 6 or 8, without having to go to the gym.

20. If there was a piece of advice that you would give to your teenage self, what would it be?

“Listen to that high school English teacher. You have a talent for writing, so start writing. Now! Don’t leave it until your thirties.”

I’d love to extend my thanks to Ms Wilcock for being the subject of my debut edition of The Hive. Lizzie is so kind, helpful and funny and I’m so glad I was able to interview her.


Lizzie Wilcock is one of nine children and grew up in Sydney and later on a farm in rural NSW. She became a primary school teacher and has been teaching for over 20 years.

Her first novel Losing It, was published in 2006 and was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. Her second novel, GriEVE, was published in 2007 and was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. The birth of her daughter in 2007 changed Lizzie’s focus from Young Adult fiction to Children’s fiction. In 2011 Lizzie had three novels published – Extinction: The Day the World Ended, Extinction 2: The Explosive Conclusion and Give Me Four Reasons. Her sixth novel, Thirst, was released in May.

Lizzie lives in Newcastle with her husband Phil, and daughter Isla. 

Click here to go to Lizzie’s blog/website.