Cold Call: Sally Chatterton rings Wendy Holden

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The Independent Culture
WENDY HOLDEN lived the Ab-Fab lifestyle on Tatler magazine and decided to draw on the torrid, solipsistic world she discovered there for her recent novel, Simply Divine. As a result she has now found herself the subject of the same glossy pages; she has become the literary equivalent of an It Girl, gracing the pages of tabloid and broadsheet alike. The media attention may be because the subject is close to many a journalist's heart and they are curious to determine whether, in fact, they make an appearance in the book. Wendy, however, claims that it was due to her willingness to be proactive in publicising the book, "and the fact that there wasn't a third world war going on. Plus January is a miserable time and I think people want glamour and fun."

Is the book really a roman-a-clef?

No. I don't think that is what people are interested in really. It's meant to be good fun and a jolly read, a bit of a romp.

That's what the average reader is after?

Absolutely. I don't think the public is anxious to read about journalists in London. I think they just want to read something that's fun.

But you did draw on your own media experience?

Oh, sure. But it was such good material. The really bizarre things in the book were too bizarre to make up. But the characters are only amalgamations of different people rather than portraits of real people I knew and worked with.

Are you consciously mocking the fashion business?

Well, yes. Of course there is a certain amount of mockery. But there is a fine line between mockery and celebration.

You are always looking for the new rather than enjoying the present in fashion. Does that make it a bit unsatisfying?

Well, I quite enjoyed all the "What's the new black? What's the new gardening". It all struck me as being rather good fun.

Does that constant desperation for something new and better define the Nineties reader?

I think people on magazines probably think that's what people want to know. But I think they only want to read about it. It doesn't define their lifestyle.

What defines the Nineties woman?

Well, no one thing, really. I suppose we know more about more things. We're far more pressurised these days. You know - career, lurve. We have to be superstars on all fronts. Everything we do has to be a success.

Why do you think that is the case?

I'm not entirely sure but I would say that we have witnessed a fascinating progression from the terribly serious feminist in the Seventies, to the careerist, power-shouldered, ball-breaking women of the Eighties, to the typical Nineties women who would certainly seem to be a rather harmless party girl.

You would characterise Nineties women as being harmless?

I think the It Girls are symbols of our age. They've made a fortune out of being famous for being famous. They've got a lot out of life.

What will the millennium heroine be like?

I hope the stereotype of the unhappy single girl will die. Hopefully she'll stop thinking in a gender specific way. In fact I think that she'll be a go-getter.

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