Morning morning my lovelies. Today I’m thrilled to welcome Nicole Webb to Meet the Author. This is a fantastic interview, where we’re chatting about moving to Asia and the reasons behind her first Memoir, China Blonde, the various jobs she’s done, her favourite things to do, embarrassing moments, superpowers and more….
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I am a journalist and worked as a newsreader at Sky News Australia for a decade before taking the plunge and moving to Hong Kong with my hotelier husband (and baby bump)! It was a big step out of our comfort zone, but one we have no regrets about. Once culture shock subsided and we found our way, we fell in love with Hong Kong, the fragrant harbour city. Here I dabbled in more creative writing and started my expat entertainment blog ‘Mint Mocha Musings – The hotelier’s wife, an expat affair in Asia.’ Four years into our journey we got the call to move to the middle of China, to another city of 9 million people, called Xi’an. If I thought I knew Asia, I was wrong. It was a whole new ball game and the catalyst for my debut memoir, China Blonde. After 2.5 years in the heart of China, we’re now back in Sydney, Australia where I continue to freelance as a writer, speaker and journalist.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I distinctly remember at around the age of ten thinking that it would be amazing to be a Librarian because I would be able to immerse myself amongst the bookshelves and read all the books whenever I pleased! Writing was obviously in my blood as I wrote an A4 sized diary, daily from the age of 13 to 20. By the time I was 17 though, Hollywood was beckoning, or so I thought! But after declaring to the school career guidance counsellor that I could neither sing, dance nor act, she politely convinced me to try my hand at journalism. From there the path was set and I went to university to study journalism with the hope of one day becoming a television newsreader.
What other jobs have you done other than being an author?
As mentioned above, I began my career as a TV reporter in a tiny country town in New South Wales, Australia…but before this, I did whatever it took to survive which included a job at McDonalds during high school and university, waitressing and working as a customer service operator for ANZ Bank, as well as a sales gig in radio where the phone book was my client base. I was so thrilled to finally get a job at NBN Television as a reporter at the age of 25. After three years in the country, I ventured to the ‘big smoke’ Sydney and freelanced at various television channels as a news producer. I eventually secured a fulltime job producing the Business Daily program and the Health News show. I worked for ten years at Sky News, producing a number of programs from politics to showbiz as well as presenting the main news bulletins.
When we moved to Hong Kong, as a new mum in a foreign country, it was a case of ‘reinvention.’ It was about finding my identity without the autocue and something flexible with a new baby. I began MC-ing events, media training and writing for a number of websites and magazines, on everything from motherhood, to beauty, travel and current affairs. I always knew I would love to write a book but had no idea what it would be about.
Other than writing, what else do you enjoy doing?
Writing is my love, but I also enjoy reading, shopping (Oh yes!) drinking coffee, eating out at restaurants and bars (covid-permitting these days), doing body pump and pilates at the gym and hanging with my husband and 9-year-old girl, oh…and Netflix! Heaven.
What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you?
I’m not sure this is strange, but perhaps something not a lot of people know, I did end up in a beauty pageant once while I was at university. As I paraded out onto the stage in my swimsuit as it was televised live, I wondered how on earth I got there. I was mortified. I remember telling the host though, that I would like to take over his job!
Name one book you think everyone should read and tell us why?
Mine of course. Ha ha. No! Kidding. Sort of.
One of the more recent books would be Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’. It is such an education on life growing up as a black woman in America and a great insight into life at the White House and of course being married to the President of the United States. Well, that one anyway.
Do you believe in love at first sight?
Not really. I tend to think those are the relationships that go downhill too quickly. I met my husband James on a blind date! It was a very nerve-wracking experience and definitely not love at first sight but there was something there! I’m not sure I knew he was the ‘one’ but I knew he was worth pursuing! You could say it was a slow burn at a rapid rate (if that makes sense). We got to know each other slowly but 11 months later he proposed. 13 years later, we’ve never looked back!
Describe yourself using three words only…….
Tenacious, Loyal, Loving. (And a little bit weird!)
If a movie was made about your life, what genre would it be, who would you want to play you and what would its title be?
I think there should be a movie made of my memoir China Blonde!! Reese Witherspoon I’m looking at you! Although perhaps we need an Aussie actor? Asher Keddie. Colin Firth would be my husband James. He’s such a Mr Darcy.
What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you?
There are too many things to give you just one, but the funniest are probably all those lost in translation moments I had in China, not to mention the medical check for our visa which had James and I in hysterics as we were herded from one station to the next, prodded and poked by all and sundry, in front of everyone!!
If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
Heal the sick, especially children. Ugh, my heart.
What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you (that you’re willing to share?!)
I shouldn’t share this because it was actually taken out of my book by my editor…ha ha…but in China, I had a case of a bad tummy on many many occasions, possibly due to the different food and/or different hygiene standards. One night, I was getting all frocked up, ready to go out to a big film festival in China with James. (It wasn’t often I got into high heels, so it was a quite a special occasion) and just before I put my dress on, I felt something weird in my tummy. Thought I would make it to the bathroom, but I didn’t! I’ll let you imagine the rest. Strangest thing that’s ever happened really. As we sat in the back of the sleek black limousine an hour later, I leaned over and whispered to James, ‘You’ll never guess what happened to me?’ All he could do was shake his head. Ha ha.
Do you feel it’s more important to have a) strong characters b) a mind-blowing plot or c) amazing settings?
Because I’m very bad at plotting, I’ll say strong characters and an amazing setting.
What is your favourite genre to read and why?
Contemporary fiction. My next book will hopefully be of this genre.
And finally, tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it?
China Blonde – How a newsreader’s search for adventure led to friendship, acceptance and peroxide pandemonium.
From a TV newsreader in Sydney to a hotelier’s wife in the heart of China – this is a true story of reinvention, love and finding your home.
When Nicole Webb’s husband James is offered a job in the ancient city of Xi’an, in north-west China, they jump at the chance.
With their three-year-old daughter Ava, they fly into a city they know nothing about, where they don’t know anyone and can’t speak the language.
Touching down, Nicole and Ava are the only blondes in the jam-packed Arrivals hall, and culture shock hits them head on.
With honesty and humour, Nicole takes us on a journey of daily life in the Middle Kingdom at a time when every country is looking towards China.
We follow her search for friendship and acceptance, as she discovers, no matter what your culture or background, we’re connected the world over by the common thread of humanity.
CHINA BLONDE gives a very personal insight, told with a journalist’s eye view, into the lives of those who embraced Nicole with open arms.
Her experiences along the way will resonate with anyone who’s ever built a life in a new home – be it across the city or across the world.
In Australia you can buy it on Booktopia –
Globally, on my website http://www.nicolewebbonline.com
The eBook on Amazon
thank you so much nicole for this fabulous interview! I absolutely loved getting to know you.
If you have any questions or comments for Nicole. make sure you get in touch!
Have a wonderful day folks