Q & A with Love and Other U-Turns author, Louisa Deasey
Love and Other U-Turns author Louisa Deasey gives us a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the road trip that inspired her brand new book about a ‘city girl, an unruly comedian, a love story and an amazing adventure’.
1. What is your favourite place in Australia and why?
Anywhere you can leave your door open at night and just hear the breeze in the wind and the stray howl of a dog, trees shivering and air that echoes the space … waking to nothing but sky and warmth. Possibly Kalgoorlie in September, Denmark WA in February, or anywhere in Far North NSW or Qld in July…Oh or Broome in June. I just love Australia…
2. Is there anywhere you wouldn’t go back to? Why?
I loved everywhere we went, and I found something to appreciate and learn about it all. Mainly it was all an echo of aspects of myself.
The only place that truly shocked me, because the clichés were true, was Hall’s Creek, in WA. It was riddled with child pregnancy, welfare problems, addictions, screaming, and, to be a bit ‘out there’, just an awful, slightly evil vibe. When we left, I felt like we’d been let out of jail, even though the sky was big and the roads didn’t stop us … but not far further, things were better. A bit like life!
3. What were the best things about being on the road?
Every day is different. Every day you’re free. Every day you’re slightly frightened and that’s a good thing. Every day you’re learning new things about yourself, about the world around you, about the way you react to people and places, about your beautiful country and your cultural inheritance, and other people’s cultural inheritance. Every day your values are stripped back to the fundamentals: physical needs, relationships, inspiration. After being stimulated on that level it’s really hard to go back to monotony!
4. What were the hardest things about being on the road?
OK, first up, the obvious: Lack of cooking facilities, and lack of good coffee! Since when does steaming some milk and adding International Roast constitute a latté? To get cooking facilities, you need to stay in a youth hostel, yet the irony is, you mainly meet backpackers from overseas. So we stayed with other Aussies which was an adventure in itself.
Also, I didn’t realise how masculine the Australian outback was until I went there myself. And I thought it wasn’t fair!
5. And travelling with your partner for so long? Good, bad, ugly?
Jim was a wonderful travelling companion. He loved driving, he was so low maintenance he slept in the seat of the car, he ate tuna cans day after day and practised jokes on me – what else coud you ask for? But yeah, you just learn everything in fast-forward when you’re spending 24/7 with someone in the front of a car! You become one and the same – at one point we only had one set of car keys, so if we lost each other, it would be a matter of just ‘sensing’ where the other one was … it was pretty intense!
I don’t want to give the book away but at a certain point I realised how we differed, and that affected how we could travel together…
6. Have you got any tips for the ladies on how to stay pretty under duress?
On the first road trip with Jim (and i write this in the book) I was all about trying to hide my ‘high maintenance-ness’ in the public toilets. Nuh. Uh. Guys just don’t ‘get’ that we need more than three minutes to get ready.
So, here are my weird ones:
Use any kind of oil or moisturiser to wash your face in the outback, if you have nothing but a public toilet block. Mix it with hand paper towels soaked in warm water and some moisturiser and voila, your face is clean and moisturised (hey, I was doing this under duress).
Always keep a few toothbrushes in the glovebox, handbag, everywhere …. you don’t even need toothpaste when you’re desperate.
At one point i had no idea where my hairbrush was and I needed to comb my hair, immediately. All we had were some clean plastic forks in the camping box. I used one of those.
Get your eyelashes tinted before you go! Wear sunscreen – buy the sticks (like from Clarins), they are really good and can hang around your neck if you’re jogging in super burning heat. Carry a cream foundation and splash on in an emergency of red blotchiness. Use a lipstick as a blush on the apples of your cheeks if you have nothing else. And make the most of getting into a town which has some beauticians in it. They’ll become your closest friends if you’ve just spent six weeks in the Goldfields. I’m not joking…
Buy a little perfume oil bottle from the Body Shop or Kleins perfumery or elsewhere. Use that instead of perfume, as it reacts better in the heat.
7. Best laundry tips? Did you come up with innovative ways to wash/dry laundry?
Sadly, no. I just didn’t take anything that needed ironing and no white clothes. Lots of reds and blacks. Also be conscious that it’s about the experience, not about what happens to your clothes. Jim used to say he liked bumps on his car for that very reason. Only take things you don’t mind losing or ruining, that can pack up small, are comfortable and ‘you’. I still have one of the skirts I took with me from Kookai, it was made of nylon and squished up to about a square centimetre in my bag.
8. Did anything scary/dangerous happen? How did you escape/avoid it?
Oddly, only a couple of dodgy things happened in the course of one year, but my perception of scary had completely changed. On the whole, in one year of car travelling I had about three dodgy experiences whereas in Melbourne I’d have scary/dangerous encounters on a daily basis. I was lucky, but I was careful too. At one point I went jogging and got approached by a guy in the outback, but that’s happened to me about 16 times in Melbourne at Princes Park. I just kept jogging, and pretended not to notice. Then got into the car, and scooted away.
9. If you had the chance to do it again, knowing what you now know, would you?
Yes. It was the best risk I’ve ever taken. I learnt so much about people, love, life …
I think life is about growth and learning, and the only way you can do this is to get out of your comfort zone.
10. Checklist for ultimate road trip happiness – what are the absolute must-haves for a life on the road?
All you need is an open, curious heart. If you have that, and are willing to go down the dark roads as well as the lush ones, you will have one grand adventure. And pack sunscreen and a sense of humour.
11. Any tips on how to get a decent night’s sleep without a bed?
Cotton wool in the ears, a beanie, socks, and if you can, someone you love to cuddle!
The good news for you, my pretties, is that there are five copies of Love and Other U-Turns up for grabs.
All you need to do to win your very own copy is to tell us 25 words or less about the best road trip you have ever been on.