You know her as the feisty funny host from Channel Ten's hit reality show "Big Brother". But did you know that as well as holding down a regular television gig, Gretel Killeen is also a best selling author and has written over twenty one books?! Past titles have included "My Life is a Toilet", "My Life is a Wedgie" and "You're Joking". Gretel's books have been published in Australia, Britain, Europe, Asia and Canada.
Having started her career as a stand up comic, Gretel has had regular television appearances as a "funny person" on national television and radio. Her latest work of art is the very funny "My Life is a Boob Tube" which stars yet again, intergalatic superstar, Fleur Trotter.
FEMAIL: Where did you grow up?
Gretel: I grew up in Sydney in a suburb called Turramurra.
FEMAIL: What was your family life like? That is, did/does your family have any similarities to the Trotters?
Gretel: I have three sisters, two older and one younger, and my parents are still married after forty-five years. I have one Grandma who is still with us. She is one hundred years old but, despite her healthy active life, has never been a wild nymphomaniac. So you can see my family is nothing like the Trotters, although I am similar to Fleur.
FEMAIL: Was your adolescence as humorous and entertaining as Fleur's? Can you give us an example of how it was or wasn't?
Gretel: No, my adolescence wasn't very humorous or entertaining and I think that's why I learnt to encourage my imagination to create situations for me in my head. One of the silliest things I remember actually happening occurred at a friend's birthday party. I remember she'd helped her mother make the cake and then licked the bowl and ended up eating a huge amount of purple icing before we arrived. Later, we were laughing so hard about something that the purple icing actually poured out of her nostrils. Please note, I do not recommend you try this at home!
FEMAIL: 'My Life as a Boob Tube' is just as hilarious and entertaining as your other books. Do you try to include any messages for young people in your stories about the Trotter family?
Gretel: The only message I want to share with everyone is to be brave and to challenge yourself to have new experiences and new emotions. I believe that we should all stretch ourselves beyond our comfort zones, not only because comfort zones are boring but because the wisdom that comes with really living life helps us to be more compassionate towards others.
FEMAIL: What is life really like as a boob tube?
Gretel: It's brightly coloured, but pretty squishy.
FEMAIL: What do you enjoy and/or not enjoy about the process of writing?
Gretel: I don't enjoy the loneliness of writing but I love to read what I've written and be amazed at just what part of my head an idea came from. Basically, I love the magic of all things creative.
FEMAIL: I've read that you have now written over 20 books. That's a fantastic achievement . Do you have a personal favourite?
Gretel: I've actually written in excess of 22 books but I' not sure of the precise figure. I don't have any personal favourites because that would be like loving one of your children more than the others.
FEMAIL: You seem to have covered all aspects of the media, is there anything you'd like to do next or have in the pipeline that you can tell us about?
Gretel: I've wanted to make a movie since I was about seven, so I guess I should hurry up and do that.
FEMAIL: How old are your son and daughter? Do you test your books out on them first? If so, what sort of reactions do you get?
Gretel: My son is 13, my daughter is 11.They've illustrated four of my books and there are more in the pipeline. I respect their opinions very much but I don't read my work to them before its published. I figure the more people you ask the more opinions you're going to get, but you're not necessarily going to get any closer to the correct answer. Having said that I always ask my children about book titles and character names. Oh and I also spend a lot of time cracking silly jokes and seeing which ones make them laugh.
FEMAIL: If you were not writing and performing in the media, what would you be doing?
Gretel: Going mad!