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Laura Demasi, journalist and author, Sydney, Australia

A good way to experience an interesting career without doing all the hard work is to read a book like The Ladies' Room (Harper Collins) by journalist Laura Demasi.Laura Demasi interviewed 12 prominent Australian women with a variety of careers.

READERSVOICE.COM: How did you go about contacting the women in your book The Ladies’ Room?

LAURA DEMASI: I have worked as a journalist for newspapers and magazines for a long time so it was quite easy for me to locate them. Some of the women had agents, in which case I called them first and asked them to pass on an email. Generally, I found it best to call and introduce yourself and follow up with an email detailing exactly what you would like to do.

RV: Were there any difficulties in finding and contacting them?

LD: Not really. The only problems arose when they weren’t in the country, which was the case for many of the women. Most of them work overseas and interstate regularly. You just have to patient.

RV: How did you get the life stories in your book? Did you sit down with them and ask them questions, or did they write the pieces?

LD: I conducted extensive face to face interviews and taped them, then had a typist transcribe the tapes word for word. Then I spent days and days on each editing, then showed them to each of the women to make sure everything was still in the context they intended.

RV: The pieces in the book are like mini-autobiographies. Did you model this style on any other books or is it a style you invented?

LD: Yes, they are like mini biographies and that is what I intended. I really wanted them to be in first person – it’s so much more intimate and works well with the ‘biography’ genre.
A lot of other authors choose the first person format, when it comes to interviews, so I certainly did not invent it.

RV: Do you read many biographies and autobiographies?

LD: One of the last ones I read was (novelist) Paul Auster’s From Hand to Mouth and I loved Fay Weldon’s Auto da Fay. Also, another favourite was the memoir Desirelines by Richard & Peter Wherret.

RV: What about fiction?

LD: I just finished Hell Has Harbour Views by Sydney author Richard Beasley – a satire about the lawyers in the ‘top end of town’ – it was great.
Some of favourite fiction authors include Jeanette Winterson, Zadie Smith (White Teeth was brilliant) and David Malouf.

RV: What sort of journalism do you like to read?

LD: Newspapers – I love the news review section of the Saturday edition of the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Ladies’ Room by Laura Demasi, 305 pages, is published by Harper Collins.

-copyright Simon Sandall.