Sally Hepworth is a rule breaker.
The Melbourne-based, international best-selling author, and mother-of-three doesn’t stick to the rules when it comes to her work and describing her home life. But when we catch up, it’s the fashion rules that she breaks that we discuss first.
A bright blonde, Hepworth regularly sports a trademark bold red lipstick, and wears citrus yellow with abandon. It may seem superficial to note that when we’re there to talk about her extensive and excellent body of work, but commenting on each other’s fashion is how Hepworth and I originally connected on Instagram. More importantly, her defiance of the ‘rules’ reflects her character: she’s not a woman who feels obliged to follow them as many of us do.
“Most of my blonde friends are too afraid to wear red lipstick,” I tell her. “They worry they’re going to look like a clown.”
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Hepworth laughs at that, and admits, “A woman once asked me if I was dressed as a clown! She noticed my red lipstick, and I thought she was going to say something nice, but instead she said that!”
When I add that my blonde friends are also reluctant to wear yellow as it clashes with their hair, she exclaims in surprise, “Yellow is one of my favourite colours!”
With that important issue addressed, I want to talk about how, much more significantly, Hepworth is a rule-breaker when it comes to fiction written for, and by, women.
The author wrote her break-out novel, The Secrets of Midwives, while on maternity leave with her second child in 2015. It was an instant hit domestically and internationally, and it was the highest selling Australian debut novel of the year. Hepworth has since written The Things We Keep, The Mother’s Promise and the recently-released The Family Next Door.