A 1972 study called Animal Behaviour found that red-bellied piranhas most frequently attacked goldfish by eating their eyes. It concluded that such an attack immobilised their victims, allowing them to consume their prey with ease… Klarissa was red-soled, not red-bellied, but her method was the same. Her oxygen was our salted tears. Her purpose? To stay top fish.
Miriam Sawan is a former television producer who is biting back at bullies. Her debut novel Louboutins, Lattes & Live TV takes readers to the dark side of television, where the impressionable young are toyed and tampered with for Klarissa Maree-Francis's gain.
Anna-Simone is a savvy television producer desperate to find her place in lifestyle television. The colour. The madness and the manic deadlines form the perfect harmony of creative chaos she knows she can tackle. She thinks she's found her big break when she's offered a job at Sky-High"the top-rated television network in the country.
She arrives a bubbly, young, go-getter but soon releases her boss, Klarissa, is Satan in stilettoes. Well-heeled, well-spoken and a subscriber to the mean-girls group in media, Klarissa will make Anna-Simone question her very existence. But she won't go down without a fight.
See what happens when two alpha females go head to head. When women sell their souls for a promotion. Where the price of success costs you your sanity. Where the ultimate lows lead to creative highs. And where out of the darkness, unlikely heroes emerge.
Miriam Sawan is a former television producer turned media advisor, who has worked for some of Australia's biggest television networks. As a journalist, she always wanted her stories to mean something, so when she moved to a law firm and began working as a media advisor, she was suddenly exposed to many horrific accounts of workplace bullying, fuelling her passion to become a voice for those who have been victimised. While she can't tell client stories, writing Louboutins, Lattes & LiveTV is her way to use a fictional story as a creative tool to 'empower young people in the workplace to stand up for themselves and nip nastiness in the bud." As for any bullies who read her book, she hopes they'll learn 'to reflect and change old behaviours to stop themselves from the inevitable hurt they cause."
Louboutins, Lattes and Live TV
Author: Miriam Sawan
Question: Why did you write Louboutins, Lattes and Live TV?
Miriam Sawan: I work in a compensation law firm as a Media Advisor where I'm exposed to horrific accounts of workplace bullying through our clients every day. After being in environments where they're unheard, tormented or abused in their office spaces, these everyday Australians leave traumatised, emotionally battered and have some PTSD symptoms that carry through their entire lives.
As a media advisor, I often encourage these people to share their stories to enjoy the cathartic benefits of storytelling and releasing themselves of the sadness they carry after being silenced for so long.
I of course do not have the liberty to just share somebody else's story, so I created one in the colourful world of television to act as a megaphone for the issues that over 53% of Australians face in their working careers.
Question: How much of Louboutins, Lattes and Live TV is based on your own experiences?
Miriam Sawan: The story is entirely fictional. I was heavily entrenched in the Stan series -Unreal' when I was writing this and had always loved -The Devil Wears Prada.' While watching -Unreal' I was convinced I could create a villain that was just as cruel – so I placed her in a context that I was familiar with (live tv) in order to tell Anna-Simone's story convincingly. I'm happy to say that I met more good people than bad in television and this novel is not a reflection of my relationships with them.
Question: What do you hope readers take from Louboutins, Lattes and Live TV?
Miriam Sawan: I want them to recognise that we don't need to be cruel to be kind, we need to be kind to be kind. I want them to think twice before sending a curt email. I want us all to feel empowered to speak up for ourselves and for others being victimised in our workplaces. I want us to live by the idea that the standard we walk past, is the standard we accept, and I don't want us ever to accept -bullying' as the way it is. I hope that readers who have been bullied, feel empowered enough to walk away from employers that don't value them, and I want them to speak up and approach the necessary authorities to report the injustice they've experienced before they leave. I also want the bullies to think twice about their actions and how their hardness can heavily impact the mental health of their staff. Finally, I want offices to have adequate measures in place to know how to tackle bullying complaints, rather than just have it in a HR policy that is filed in a draw and never enacted.
Question: What was the best part about creating the character of Klarissa Maree-Francis?
Miriam Sawan: Creating Klarissa-Maree Francis was exhausting because I had to make her convincingly complex. She had to be cruel but also have a sense of humour. She had to be clever but could only selectively show kindness. She had to be tough but also had to be vulnerable. Her character was fun to create because she was a hyperbolised version of all of the villainous bosses I'd read about and devoured in other works of fiction. While Klarissa is fictional, there are elements of her behaviours that are relatable to keep the reader convinced that this was their story too. I wanted people to read about Klarissa and be gobsmacked by her behaviour but also see threads of her in their own stories. I'm proud to say that this has so far been the case. I've received numerous texts and emails from readers thanking me for bringing the issue of workplace bullying to light and also telling me they had a -Klarissa' experience themselves. Such feedback convinces me that this was a story that had to be told, to empower those who don't have a voice (or the patience required to write a book).
Interview by Brooke Hunter
Louboutins, Lattes and Live TV
Author: Miriam Sawan