Actress And Author Nicola Charles Talks About Her New Book ‘The Witches Of Toorak’
Former ‘Neighbours’ actress and author Nicola Charles, has had her fair share of success over the years, but along with that came some challenges. However, she has managed to remain a strong business woman through it all and continues to inspire other women along the way. She recently released her book ‘The Witches Of Toorak’ (a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) which is flying off the shelves and ruffling some feathers at the same time. Either way, we are here for it and recently had the chance to talk to Nicola about her journey. Here is what she had to share:
Hi Nicola, first of all, how has everything been going for you, since we last spoke? Between Covid-19 and lockdown, you have also managed to release your stirring and honest new book ‘The Witches of Toorak’. Tell us about that:
Hello Amber, always lovely to speak with you. Yes things are stranger now with lockdown right? I did my first TV Live cross last week as restrictions prevented us filming the interview in a television studio and it was weird. I actually copped a lot of flack because people thought I was looking down at notes during the interview but I had an enormous earpiece in, listening to the questions from the studio, not being able to see them at all -and if you think about how we instinctively act when on the phone I think I learned that day that my “phone face” is looking down hahahaha!
I believe I had Covid-19 back in March and I was very ill for six weeks. I made final plans etc, very serious stuff, the kids had it too, to a lesser degree. However, even though as an experience it was horrific, like all trying times in life, it did make me realize how precious life is, how lucky I am to be surrounded by the people I love. Now I feel a no-holds-barred attitude to literally everything as this feels like a second chance at life and I am grabbing it with both hands. I can’t say Covid is a blessing because so many have lost their battle and that breaks my heart, but for the survivors it’s a core-shaker.
The isolation and lockdown gave me a chance to finish The Witches of Toorak, another silver lining, albeit surrounded by three kids and my boyfriend as we all became locked in together. It’s interesting as I knew that lockdown would make or break many relationships and for myself and Nick and it was just one more joy to add to the list of many since we met. I can say with all honesty, I have loved lockdown since recovering.
You have also received an amazing amount of feedback along with (as always in this business) some back lash or nasty responses from certain women. I always admire your attitude and how you always keep moving forward. Does it get tough for you some days, though?
Yes I have been trolled endlessly since news of the book went public just a couple of weeks ago. I am always amazed that those doing the trolling seem oblivious to how their actions wave a giant flag in the air about their insecurities. For women who claim to dislike me so much, they sure do spend a lot of time looking at me and thinking about me. A part of me still feels sorry for them, because it must be torture to live inside the mind of a bully, or someone experiencing that level of hate. It’s an ugly place, and so rather than demolish them publicly with words, which would be the easy way out, I simply block them and hope they find peace somehow.
What inspired ‘The Witches of Toorak’ and how long was the process of writing etc?
I was inspired to write the book after witnessing one Toorak woman say of another, “I am going to destroy her”. When I asked why she said, “because I feel like it.” It gave me chills and I thought about the behaviors of other women who had ‘married the money’ and how they had changed so much after adopting the husband’s wealth. From sending out nasty emails from the husband’s business identity to attempting to wield power and destroy the life and career prospects of innocent women around them, I just felt enough was enough, somebody had to call out these bitches. I created characters from the splinters of knowledge I had and wove them into an unreal and hopefully entertaining story.
The book is satire and does contain some hilarious content that ‘could’ happen. It took me about 8 months all-told to write the book. If I hadn’t been sick it would have been released sooner, but I am actually very happy with the timing. I also revisited a large portion of the book and to the horror of my business partner and editor Sally-Anne Ward deleted it, and began that section again. I think Sally reached a point where she thought yeah-yeah this book’s never coming hahahaha. I loved receiving her messages during editing where she would just text me one sentence I had written with crying face emojis. The whole process has been a total riot.
What do you feel has made you stronger over the years, as a woman? Obviously being a mother is your number 1 achievement, but also what you have been through and how you have emerged is definitely a credit to you. Tell us more about that:
You know people tell me all the time, “You are such a strong woman.” I really don’t feel like I am, to me I am just normal. It’s true I have been through the shit storm of life and yes it has tried to break me, from years of a custody battle in Los Angeles, to lifelong friends betraying me and career stalling it has seemed like an endless walk uphill through snow sometimes -but as I say to my children, “if this is a test, let’s make sure we pass it.” Three years ago I was lost somewhat, cast adrift in a boat with no oars, and then I met someone who changed my life forever. I met someone I admired greatly, he was something of a career mentor, and we became great friends, and eventually over time, so much more and the love healed a lifetime of wounds, and gave me back my strength.
As you and I have spoken before about this, it is amazing how many women can be so competitive and nasty even more so, these days. What do you think that is? Social media, provoking women to be more against each other, than for each other?
If I had the answer to why women are nasty to each other I think I would be rich. I think part of it is because people allow them to be, even encourage it. Husbands and partners in particular who see their women actively trying to destroy others should step in and say something, that kind of behavior can’t be attractive, they are like spoiled children stamping their feet because things aren’t the way they want them to be in life. Who knows! Perhaps they need a good sex session to sort them out! Something is off, it’s certainly not normal.
The women I surround myself with support each other, help each other and make life worth living. I guess if you are a negative person you will always be drawn to negativity. You see it all the time on these reality TV shows, rich women who have nothing to do all day, so become busy-bodies sticking their noses into other people’s business and judging them. Nobody has a right to judge anybody else, nobody has to live the life of another. The day I start trolling through other women’s social media and worrying about what they are doing or how successful they are, lock me up! Because I’ll be going senile!
You are already working on your next book entitled ‘Climb Bitch’ (love that title by the way, I can relate hahah). Give us an insight into that:
Argh… Climb Bitch, or its full title of So you want to be at my level? Climb Bitch. A Lady’s Guide to dealing with Bitches. This book came about because during the writing process for The Witches of Toorak I had many women come to me in support of the project and share with me their experiences. They were wide ranging and unique and though I couldn’t use them in the book, I knew I wanted them to inspire me to write some sort of survival guide for younger women, to try and stop them from getting sucked into this bitch-life and to keep thinking for themselves.
I would have loved to have read something like Climb Bitch as a young woman because it may have fore-armed me with some of the despicable behaviors bitchy women may be capable of, because in my naivety I literally never saw them coming. These are women who actually set time aside “to be a bitch”. I am convinced they pour themselves a large glass of wine, park their broomsticks before sitting down at their laptop and say out loud, “Right! In what ways can I blight your life today!” It’s quite literally a mental illness and bullying, and I want to draw attention to it.
I couldn’t agree more! Lastly, what would tell other women who are struggling with issues in their personal lives right now and how to make it through to the other side?
My message to other women struggling with their female relationships is A. Buy Climb Bitch and B. repeat after me, “This is not you, it’s them.” Female human nature is to naturally believe anything negative that is hurled at us, we literally ‘want’ to believe it, because let’s face it, no-one is as hard on us as we are on ourselves. All women stand in front of the mirror and believe they are “not enough”. That they are too old, too fat, too unattractive or too whatever it is to be loved, or cool or attractive.
That insecurity leaves us vulnerable to bitches and bullies and I would like to help women gain their strength about who they are and what value they have in this world. There “are” good women out there, women who want to support you, who genuinely believe in you, the trick is finding them. Key is walking away when you get even the slightest hint of “bitch” from another woman. I am like a gangster when it comes to female friendships. Betray me and you are dead to me. It’s the only way.
Thanks so much for your time Nicola and for being such an amazing person!