My Secret Life: Kathy Lette, 54, novelist

'I regret turning Clooney down'

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The Independent Online

My parents were… inspirational. My darling dad worked in fibre optics. His name was Mervyn. We called him Optic Merv. My lovely mum, an innovative head teacher, worked full-time with no help in the house. Basically the woman looks underdressed without a plinth.

The household I grew up in… was full of love and laughter. My dad was a famous rugby player. He was once the fastest front row forward in Australian history. All he wanted were four sons whom he could teach to scrum and run. What he got instead were four feisty daughters. Is it any wonder the poor man retreated to his garage?

When I was a child I wanted to be… taller.

You may not know it but I'm no good at… light dusting; my skirting boards have top soil. And cooking; I use my smoke alarm as a timer. Or tending herbaceous borders; my garden is the neighbourhood day spa for local foxes. I see them as free-range pets.

At night I dream of… Johnny Depp presenting me with the Nobel Prize for Literature, then whisking me away to a tropical island where he licks the roe of virgin sturgeon from my navel beneath a tropical palm.

I wish I had never worn… my heart on my sleeve. I'm too trusting and candid. But also, those leopard-skin hot pants and iridescent boob tube, aged 17.

What I see when I look in the mirror… Laughter lines. It's all there: the books, the babies, the hours of fun-loving flirtation, plus the challenges of raising a child with Asperger's – which inspired my latest novel, The Boy Who Fell to Earth.

It's not fashionable but I like… feminism. When did it become the worst F-word? Not only do women in Britain still not have equal pay, but females in the developing world are fed last, fed least and one woman dies every minute in childbirth. The fact that one in three girls around the world is denied an education; poverty, conflict and discrimination is a huge waste of potential.

I drive… many people I know up the wall. But if you're talking transport, I get around town on a bright blue bike.

My house is… in north London. It backs on to [Australian comedian] Barry Humphries' home. Whenever he arrives back from some overseas jaunt he emails me and says, "Kathy, dear, I'm poised at your rear entrance".

My greatest regret… That I didn't sleep with George Clooney when I had the chance. I was living in Hollywood writing on the sitcom The Facts of Life, which was Clooney's first TV role. "I'm a writer," I said to George at the time. "I don't go out with actors. You put other people's words in your mouth when you never know where they've been." I am still impaling myself on my pen.

A life in brief

Kathy Lette was born in Sydney, Australia in 1958. She had early success with her first novel, Puberty Blues, written when she was just 17. After several years as a columnist and sitcom writer she returned to novels and has penned 11 international bestsellers to date, including Mad Cows and her most recent novel, The Boy Who Fell to Earth. She is an ambassador for several charities including Plan UK, Women and Children First and the White Ribbon Alliance. She lives in London with her husband and two children