A scathingly brilliant new novel from TV scriptwriter J.D. Barrett, author of The Secret Recipe For Second Chances, that explores sex, love and all the stuff in-between.
What happens when one of the country's most popular identities goes from reading the news to being the news?
Olivia Law had always been the good girl. Great grades, perfect career, husband, house and hairdo. She'd learnt image was everything so she refused to look below the surface of her life. When not at work, her minutes were filled with causes, chairing boards and dining at fabulous restaurants with her equally fabulous husband, David. She kept up the Botox, blow-dries and worked hard. It wasn't enough, but whenever doubt crept in she'd head to a pilates class or plan a renovation on her trophy house.
Then she turned 45.
Olivia wasn't prepared for David to leave. The fact that they hadn't had sex for two years should have triggered warning bells ... it didn't. In an attempt to fix her broken marriage Olivia exposes herself like never before. But when her confession goes viral, the husband, house and job disappear. The woman who once offered glamorous reassurance and a steady gaze is labelled a princess of perversion. Humiliated, defeated, facing fifty shades of failure, she's left wondering who the hell she really is? Stripped bare, she abandons perfection ... and something remarkable happens.
Olivia Law just might get her sass back (and this time, it's the real thing).
The brilliant new novel from J.D. Barrett about break ups, breakdowns and break throughs. Batteries not included.
J.D. Barrett is an Australian television writer and script editor. She has worked on the writing teams for Love My Way, East of Everything, Bed of Roses, Wonderland, Love Child and The Secret Daughter. The Secret Recipe for Second Chances was her bestselling debut novel. The Song of Us was her second book and The Upside of Over is her third work of fiction. J.D. lives between Sydney, Byron Bay and Los Angeles.
The Upside of Over
Author: J.D. Barrett
Question: What inspired you to write The Upside Of Over?
J.D. Barrett: Upside came about originally as a TV concept in 2010 – after sitting with a group a group of women at a party just up the road in Darlinghurst – they were all professional, bright as buttons successful and highly attractive – all were married and out of a group of ten only two had sex with their husbands – going through my own divorce at the time it got me wondering what it's all about – what's the place of sex and intimacy in relationships – with others yes, but first and fore mostly with ourselves.
The next moment came when I was on holidays in Bali just after 50 Shades was released – every woman sitting poolside was reading it. One – clearly on her honeymoon was ignoring her husband's pleas to join her in the water in favour of reading on… it struck me the sexual romantic fantasy was overwhelming the also very idyllic reality – trees, pool, hot husband – shiny ring. Freud's question – what is it a woman wants, rang out. I also became increasingly aware that 50 Shades is just one flavour of fantasy in a world that offers a cornucopia of them.
They idea percolated and deepened over time and the character of Olivia began to emerge – a woman who on the surface was all that but at a soul level was hungering for a very different life – one that erupted in the most inconvenient of ways at the most inopportune moment and turned her world upside down intrigued me. Someone who had been doing all the right things in the conventional sense but was a stranger to herself and that it was through her embracing her own sexuality that her authenticity was able to emerge… and that self was messier, sassier and sexier than she'd ever dared imagine.
I had no idea when I wrote my kinky RomCom that the Harvey Weinstein moment would pave the way for #MeToo movement and the paradigm of female sexual harassment and abuse would be well and truly exploded. I am thrilled that Upside is part of it. As I'm sure the stories protagonist a 45-year-old female newsreader is too! In the maelstrom of finding our voices with what we don't want, it's also exciting to see this as a time for celebrating those things we do… to be able to put our hand up and say 'I'll have what she's having' is a very compelling order.
As with Secret Recipes and The Song of Us, I wrote The Upside of Over with the hope of providing good company. To share, to let others know they're not alone, that being human is loveable and hopefully bring a smile and some sass in your step.
Question: Are the characters based on anyone you know?
J.D. Barrett: Yes and no… there are certain people in my life who have inspired some of the characters, but as always is the way with creativity, over time and through the plotting, writing and creation of the novel they've melded and morphed to become themselves. Same with Olivia – I've certainly been guilty of being the goody two shoes girly nerd, of placing bizarre and restrictive censors on myself in the hope of achieving some kind of perfection and have always, always fallen short… though I think a lot of women share that, which is one of the factors that encouraged me to dive into the it and explore the Upside of our imperfections.
Question: How much of your inspiration comes from real life and real people?
J.D. Barrett: Huge amounts! Life is always stranger than fiction; it's always the springboard. Though in this case I'd written my first draft before the Weinstein story broke… life and art are continually playing tag with each other.
Question: There are several issues raised in this book. Was this deliberate or did the story evolve this way?
J.D. Barrett: Both – yes there are themes that I wanted to explore and then those themes expanded and deepened the more I got into my character's journeys.
Question: What was the best thing about creating the character of Olivia?
J.D. Barrett: She's fun… well she finds her fun and that's liberating. Also the concept of losing it all and having to find who you are and carve out a new life is creatively exciting to me… I know how hard it is in real life (I've been through my own version of it) and to feel I might be giving hope or comfort to someone else going through the mill, via Olivia's journey, is inspiring.
Interview by Brooke Hunter
The Upside of Over
Author: J.D. Barrett