Over the past week, I have been snuggling up in bed with Alli & Genine, and giggling the night away under the doona, I’ve even spent a blissful hour or so in a hot bubbly bath with them. Just so we are clear, I’m not talking about the Alli & Genine, but their new book ‘Issue? What Issues?’ It’s the real, raw and honest ramblings of a couple of 30-somethings – think Sex and the City meets Bridget Jones’s Diary – and it is a hoot a minute!
Alli Grant and Genine Howard have agreed to join me on the Lounge today for a bit of a chin-wag to tell us more about their book and the hilarious characters behind it – them!
Ladies! Welcome to Mum’s Lounge. Firstly I have to thank you for my dazzling complexion and sparkly eyes this week. Instead of sitting up all hours with my laptop on my erm..lap, refreshing my Facebook and Twitter feeds every three minutes until I go cross-eyed and drag myself to bed, I have been sloping off to bed early to read your book.
Firstly can I ask what your motivation was for writing this fabulously honest book, and sharing some of your intimate challenges and issues?
GENINE: Well, there is nothing like airing your dirty laundry, let me tell you that – quite cathartic actually. We did it just in case we get really famous one day and the paparazzi won’t have anything to talk about! No, seriously though, Alli and I had been talking for a long time on the ‘what next’ – I personally always knew that I would do something big and something that would inspire women. I started a magazine a few years ago and Alli quickly joined me as a writer and editor, and I guess it was from all the amazing stories we have been telling through the magazine that drove us to want to do something more. So we decided to form a duo (hence the extremely well-thought out name ‘Alli and Genine’) and use a blog as to form a book about our own issues and challenges in a ‘me first’ approach to really connect with women. By us sharing all our so-called failings, we gain a trust factor with our readers so that they will be prepared to share their stories with us.
ALLI: Genine’s right – we knew we had to do something bigger than the magazines, something that could help women everywhere … across the country and the world. And we saw that the more real, raw and honest our story subjects were the more positive feedback we got from our readers. I had a light bulb moment one day, in the midst of one of my frequent break downs, that there is just so much pressure on women to be it all and have it all. We feel like we can’t admit to issues and challenges or that is akin to admitting to failure. Yet everyone faces issues. Why is it we won’t talk about them? So, as Genine said, we thought we’d go first … put our ‘issues’ on the table in the hope that it will encourage other normal, real, flawed women just like us to feel okay about themselves. And, hooray, that’s exactly the feedback we are getting. Our readers tell us that they feel less alone and have a stack of ‘Thank God it’s not just me!’ moments.
Amongst some of the things you’ve admit to in the book Alli, are your failings as a working mother (her words not mine), being adopted, your life as a cougar, ability to cry at the drop of a hat, fat knees, obsession with short men, missing libido and love of shopping for shoes (even though you can’t walk in them due to a rather unfortunate clumsy-gene which you may have unwittingly passed on to your son.) I have to admit you had me nodding along and identifying with so many thoughts and feelings you shared, and at one point I even had the this-chick-is-so-like-me-we-could-so-be-besties-in-real-life moment (move over Genine), and then you went and spoiled it all by saying that you have very little body hair, at which point my lady mo, hairy legs and I all thought better of the imaginary friendship we’d begun to form with you and thought that Genine with her Bogan roots, beige undies and all, might be a better match for us! Tell me you were fibbing please, and all will be forgiven.
ALLI: Sorry, hairless. Can’t deny it. Wish I could but my arms tell the tale (picture speaks a thousand words and all that)… I’m so hairless it looks like I wax them! CRAZY! I don’t. Promise.
Genine throughout the course of the book, amongst other things, you admit to being a bossy control freak with a perceived ‘stuck up’ persona and an inability to cry. You also open up about your attempts at becoming a mother, WAG status and scrooge-like approach to spending. In contrast to Alli, you actually HATE shopping. (Shock, horror). You too, had me nodding and identifying with so much of what you said. Do you think that one of the major strengths of the book (aside from its unfaltering humour) is that women, no matter what their situation, will identify with many of the emotions, experiences and thoughts you both express?
GENINE: Absolutely – it is great that Alli and I are so different as women can identify a little bit of themselves in both of us. It is very rare for women take the opportunity to let their guard down and actually tell it like it is … especially in public. I have had a fairly high public profile in my area for a lot of years and have always felt the pressure to ‘have it all together’. Well the reality is that no matter how successful someone is, they often still leave the house with their undies on inside out or without shaving their armpits. I think we all have that voyeur inside of us too that just loves to have a laugh at someone else’s failings – just take a look at the many reality TV programs out there. ISSUES? What Issues? is like a reality TV show … in a book (and a blog in our online world).
In fact, you are both so very different from one another. They say opposites attract. Do you think this applies to friendships too?
ALLI: Heck yes! We have been told on several occasions that we are just like a married couple. Not sure if I should read too much into that … Anyway, on several levels we are extremely alike – our work ethics, confidence, outgoing personalities, passion for what we do. But that’s where it ends. We are certainly ‘opposite’ in many, many ways, and I think that’s why our friendship and business partnership works so well. We bring balance. You definitely need a bit of ying and yang in any relationship (yep, I’m the ying – everything is based on emotions, where Genine rarely sheds a tear – she’s so pragmatic). Being so different also means we have different strengths. I’m such a talker, Genine is a listener. I spend, she saves. It’s a good match – but watch out when we have just one microphone between us. Then we BOTH want to be the talker! Don’t even start me on our karaoke battles … WAR!
Alli which chapter or confession of Genine’s in the book is your favourite? And Genine what do you think is the funniest story that Alli has shared?
GENINE: I think the merkin story has to top the cake, but for me I get a giggle every time she talks about her mummy woes – I just can’t get the image of her little boy Hudson wearing her maxi dress to kindy because she can’t find any clean clothes for him. She’s a bit hilarious.
ALLI: Awww… thanks G! Without a doubt my favourite ‘Genine’ confession in the book is when she outs her ‘bogan roots’. Probably because people see her as so classy and elegant and together. But she was such a bogan growing up – ACDC, ugg boots, boyfriends with panel vans, and she was ‘into’ cars. Funnily enough, when she’s at home she slips straight into a pair of tracky dacks and ugg boots. Still a bit of bogan in her, bless!
If you could sum one another up in 5 words what would they be?
ALLI: Just five? Righto: pragmatic, bossy (sorry G!), fabulous, loyal, passionate .
GENINE: Okay, Alli would be; humorous, witty, funny, sharp and comical. Oh, they all meant the same thing don’t they? Well, I’ll add one more – emotional!
By the time I came to the end of the book, I felt like I knew you both. If I ran into you in a supermarket, and recognized you, I am sure that I would run over and embraced you like old friends and launch into conversation, before realising that we have in fact never met, and would subsequently be carted off to the looney bin. You have a real knack for connecting on a personal level…but our readers can find out for themselves on your blog can’t they?
GENINE: I am so pleased you feel that way! We honestly are those type of girls though – we may very well hug YOU if you met you in the supermarket! We are just loving this whole connection thing we have going on – it’s like we have just increased our circle of friends ten-fold and we get to do it every day on the blog (www.alliandgenine.com) and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/alliandgenine.com). It took me a few years but I have now become quite an open person and I truly believe that what Alli and I are doing is ‘my calling’ – as woo woo as that sounds!
ALLI: Yep! Our online world is all about ISSUES too – we post daily about our very real challenges, and sometimes we hit a little too close to the bone. That’s the thing about opinions, everyone has one … and that’s okay! It has been a bit challenging for me – I’m a people pleaser who likes to be liked, so when I post about something and offend people I do have a bit of a sooky-la-la-moment. Lucky Genine’s here to make me a ‘cup of cement’. Our blog and book intertwine really – same premise. We always knew we’d write a book (actually, a million books, but one step at a time) … and the next step for us is to tell the stories of other ‘real’ women, normal chicks like us who struggle every day. We have just started doing that on our blog (with amazing support and engagement from our community) in our Real Women section. What I love most about our blog and social media community is how they support each other – the ladies are just so supportive of each other. Brings a tear to my eye, most days … no surprise there!
And one last thing before you go…I just have to ask. The Hokey Pokey…do you think it REALLY IS what it’s all about?
ALLI & GENINE: Absolutely – it’s the basis of all we do …! The Hokey Pokey is really a good metaphor for us really – we stick it all out and shake it all about for the world to see! Bit frightening really. (Although admittedly, we do love a bit of Nut Bush action, and don’t ever challenge us to a Macarena-off! Yep, show-offs. Both of us)
You an order at www.alliandgenine.com OR via your bookstore.
The girls also have a great promo – purchase a copy of ISSUES? What issues?
via their website before Mother’s Day and receive a gift voucher for $20 to spend online at boutique gift store Kindred gifts!
Alli & Genine have also brought along two books to giveaway to two lucky readers! I know, I know, I’m good to you guys!
For your chance to win please follow the instructions on the widget below, and good luck!