Q and A with Gretel Killeen: The best is yet to come

Gretel has a new book out exploring complex relationships between women.

By Danielle Galvin

Looking back at an incredibly diverse career, Gretel Killeen is confident the best is yet to come.

She’s known for her books, her TV career, and for her no nonsense approach and comedic flair.

She truly is in a league of her own.

Here, she answers questions from Danielle Galvin on her new book, My Daughter’s Wedding.

1. I’ve heard you say you’ve been obsessed with the relationship or the love between mothers and daughters – how intense, complex, fraught it is – that’s so true! Particularly around weddings and big events. I also really appreciate a book or a show that’s focussed on the relationship between women. It’s more common these days but the relationship between the significant women in our life can often be the most important. Have you had this idea for a long time?

Yes, for as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by the power of women, their intellectual and emotional strength and their extraordinary capacity to love. I’m intrigued by every facet of the mother daughter relationship as these pillars of strength both collide and support. But, please note, this novel is also a comedy.

2. Tell me about the central characters in the story and how they intersect (without giving too much away, of course!)

My Daughter’s Wedding is about mother-daughter love over three generations, but it’s also about the hilarious, safe and sometimes ridiculous support we receive from our friends, and our connection to our extended family. The lead characters are the mother (Nora living with mother guilt and anger), her daughters (Hope and Joy, one has a massive unexplained chip on her shoulder, the other is far too kind) and the grandmother ( Daphne, who’s living with increasing dementia.) The close friends are Soula (an amateur bikini-line waxer) and Thilma (whom they found in a cab in the 1980’s).

3. I believe you’ve said My Daughter’s Wedding doesn’t draw on your own personal life events particularly, is that right?

My Daughter’s Wedding only draws on my personal life in that I am both a mother and a daughter. I’ve found in writing this novel that the frustrating, beautiful and complicated bond that exists between mothers and daughters seems to be universal, so I added my imagination to the theory and focused on the broader picture.

4. Are there more stories/novels in the pipeline?

Yes, I’ve written many books in my life. The novel I’m currently writing is about – well, the meaning of life.

5. I remember reading My Life is a Toilet when I was young (and loved it) – you really have had an incredibly diverse career. And of course some will know you for your work as an author, your time on Big Brother. Is there anything you’re most proud of, or a piece of work you look back on, as your best?

Thank you. I’m proud of a great deal of the work I’ve done, but I think my best is yet to come.

6. For mothers of young girls – what do we have to look forward to? I’m often told the teenage years don’t compare to the toddler years. Which I find interesting!

Ah, you have some very interesting years ahead of you. In my observation ‘the toddler years’ are largely about a little person who is frustrated by their lack of independence, learning to express themselves as they discover boundaries. The teenage years can be that very same issue- but the teenager now has words, adult energy and power, and that can be mind-blowingly overwhelming. For the benefit of all of us our children need to develop their independence, but the process can be really painful (especially for the mothers.) ps. Good luck and have faith, all will be fabulous in the end.