"Everybody dreams of killing their boss," Dolly Parton jokes down the line at 3am.
'What a strange thing to be happening to me,' I think in response. Here I am, when everyone else is asleep, talking to one of the most beloved entertainers in the world about fantasised murder.
Time zones are complicated, and trying to tee up appropriate interview times with people overseas is often a futile practice. But when Dolly Parton is only available in what is, for you, the middle of the night, you set 14 alarms and you damn well get up. Because she is Dolly Parton.
Watch: Dolly Parton's 9 to 5 musical is arriving in Australia in 2022. Post continues below video.
My phone rings, and after the usual 30-second rundown with a publicist, Dolly is on the other end of the line.
"Hey girl," she says, in that warm, friendly Southern drawl. "How are you?"
It soon becomes crystal clear the Dolly I'm talking to is exactly how I'd imagined her to be. She drops Dollyisms ("You know me, I wake up every day with a new dream!") and laughs at herself. She is humble and at the same time, perfectly comfortable accepting my gushy compliments. She doesn't miss a beat. There are no pauses to gather her thoughts. Everything she says sounds off the cuff, in the best, most Dolly way.
I start by thanking her for taking the time, and she hits me with a joke straight away: "Well, thank you for having me. You know me, I'm always out there promoting something!"
She's right. Right now, she's working on her first novel with fiction legend James Patterson, as well as an accompanying album with songs inspired by the story. She's also released a sell-out fragrance, Scent From Above. And then there's promotion for the upcoming Sydney production of the West End hit 9 to 5, featuring the musical score she wrote based on the 1980 film of the same name.