Their books have been a raving success adding a professional twist and new dimension to the world of chick-lit, and as their collective craftsmanship teeters on the cusp of becoming a prime time drama, Spabreaks.com chatted to Never Mind The Botox author Penny Avis about her collaboration with Joanna Berry and discovered exactly what is behind the world of Botox!
The books are about a group of friends who work in the cosmetic surgery industry – how does it all come together?
There are four books with a central story about the cosmetic surgery business that’s being taken over by Americans. The books look at the takeover from four different perspectives – a lawyer, a cosmetic surgeon, a banker, and the most recent book – Rachel – is about a corporate financier. It makes it all sound very serious, but it’s light – think Sex and The City meets Bridget Jones.
What made you want to write the books?
Professional women are often portrayed as bitchy and flawed and we wanted to represent those hard working women who care about clothes and shoes and shopping and Mr Right, but who also care about their careers – these women are likeable!
You and Joanna are both professional women (Avis worked as an accountant for Deloitte and Berry was a lawyer) yourselves – are the characters based on anyone you know?
The characters are definitely drawn on our experiences – it’s the age old adage – write what you know! We took elements of people and circumstances – it’s important to be authentic, but they are not based on a specific individual or event.
We wanted to choose an industry that was interesting and you can’t pick up a newspaper without reading something about the cosmetic surgery industry – it’s fascinating! We don’t moralise about it at all though – we have readers who are fans of cosmetic surgery and people who aren’t, but they all like the books!
A lot of your reviews have girls saying they wish they worked in professional industries – do you think the books glamorise them at all?
Both Jo and I are hugely positive about our careers and would recommend them to anyone. We don’t glamorise them in the sense that they are hard work, but the books show how incredibly interesting those careers can be. I was an accountant, yes, but I worked on everything from a condom company to Jimmy Choo!
Are there any damaging effects of Botox that you came across in your research?
With excessive Botox the face still has to move, which can create a vertical crease by the ear which is very odd; or if you consider the cost of moderate amounts – if it’s costing around £1500 a year and then money gets tight your face starts to go backwards, which is very hard psychologically. There are other things you can do first to give yourself a boost – get fit, have a haircut.
There is a real divide between people who are pro and anti-cosmetic surgery – what’s your take on it?
We did an interview on Premier Christian Radio which was really interesting – they were lovely and just wanted to have a debate. Their perspective is that God loves your body so why is society pushing people to change? There is also a contingent that view the pressure to look a certain way is anti-feminist. I agree that there is huge pressure especially on women to look better, younger, whatever it is, and surgery is filtering through to become more normal – younger generations are very relaxed about it. We would say you’re entitled to make your own choice and you shouldn’t belittle someone else’s decisions – that’s anti-feminist.
Have you ever had any cosmetic surgery?
No neither of us have, but I am certainly not put off. However, I have learned that there’s a lot that you can do before resorting to surgery – it’s not a quick fix, there are side effects. We are both pretty fit – we exercise and run. We went on holiday together recently in Menorca and joined the gym for the three weeks that we were there. We tend to eat well and I would rather just look good for my age rather than younger – I am forty-three, I am what I am.
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