An interview with Dawn O’Porter: The Cows

As a blogger I have been given some amazing opportunities over the last few years; we’ve had some wonderful adventures, been gifted the most beautiful items and worked with some hugely respected brands. And yet, from a personal fan girl point of view, nothing has made me quite as excited as this – the chance to interview a lady whom I have huge admiration for, Dawn O’Porter!!

Dawn O’Porter is a well respected novelist, columnist and broadcaster who lives in Los Angeles with her husband Chris (O’Dowd) and their two sons Art and Valentine, and it’s safe to say that I’m a huge fan. I have always admired her confidence, her outspoken attitude and her individuality, and with her new novel, The Cows, fast becoming one of my favourites, I couldn’t wait to find out more!

Hi Dawn. Let me start by saying what a huge fan I am of your work and, in particularly, of your latest novel The Cows. From the moment I started reading I literally couldn’t put it down and I devoured the entire book in one luxurious child-free day. I guess my first question is, where did your idea for The Cows originally come from?

I wanted to write a story about how different kinds of women make different kinds of choices, especially when it comes to motherhood. I get frustrated when women are generalised about…that all women are searching for love, we all went kids, we all feel the same about working, love, etc, etc. So I wrote a story about three very different kinds of women, living very different lives. However, they can still help each other out, and pull each other out of the depths of their own despair despite their differences.

I love how Tara, Camilla and Stella are so different! Did you draw from your own experience to create their characters, and which of the three do you most relate to?

I think I am a little bit of all of them. Tara is the mother in me, Cam is the writer and independent spirit that I always had, and Stella is my pain. I split myself into three and developed character’s based on those aspects of my life. So I relate to them all, in their own different ways.

I think everyone can see a little of themselves in each character, although for me, as a mother of five, I found Cam’s insistence that she didn’t want a family harder to relate to, having been certain that I wanted children my whole life. Did you always want to be a Mum? Or is that side of Cam’s character something you can relate to in your past?

YOU HAVE GOT HOW MANY KIDS??? Wow, ha, super hero! No, I didn’t. I wasn’t sure I wanted kids until very close to the time I did. So it wasn’t hard for me to put myself in Cam’s shoes. I also have multiple friends who don’t want kids. I am surrounded by women who are happily childfree, and I envy them in many ways. I wouldn’t change my position for the world, but a self-nominated childfree life is a wonderful life.

I think society needs to get better at appreciating that not all women want kids. And that doesn’t make them tragic, or cold, or selfish. OR whatever other words are hurled their way.

That is such an important message and I commend you for breaking down those stereotypes, I think as a society we often struggle to see outside of the box.

 

The thing I love most about The Cows is that it made me feel so many emotions. One minute I was laughing out loud and the next I was breaking my heart. Did you feel that rollercoaster as you wrote it?

Absolutely. And that is life, I find. Things can be going well and then BAM, something happens that changes the course of your life. Whether it’s a death, a conversation, something you do. I cried for Stella so may times when I was writing the book. She acts so appallingly in so many ways, but I understand her. She’s so lost. She’s so afraid. That can make someone’s behaviour so questionable. I cringed for Tara on every page, and I cheered for Cam.

As I was writing it I would shout ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING?’ at my computer. Then I’d burst out laughing and realise I needed to take a break. I was extremely involved with them all.

I love that, and I think that’s the sign of a good writer right there. You have to be able to feel those emotions to have conviction in your words, and you achieved that with every single turn. 

The public shaming that Tara experiences is quite shocking, and yet so prevalent in today’s society, even more so with social media. Have you ever experienced a public shaming or backlash as a result of a moment of madness?

I mean, yeah. But nothing major. I once used a derogatory term in an article. I didn’t know it was insulting, and that may be due to my ignorance, but I certainly never meant to offend anyone. I think that was very clear. The minority that I offended came down hard on me, saying I needed to examine my prejudice and massively over blown statements that seemed so over the top, when all I had been was a little careless. It blew over very quickly, but I thought wow, people are ready to pounce. It’s a wonder anyone says anything at all!

You’re right, I think the fear of saying anything wrong can actually suppress many people from speaking their minds, which is another reason why I love that Cam wasn’t afraid to speak out even when she knew her attitudes may not be shared by others. 

Do you ever feel nervous writing about subjects which are still quite risqué amongst our society and have you ever edited out any scenes as a result?

Nope. Never. I LOVE it. I think I have a weird perversion for it. But also, I have a high threshold, and personally find very little shocking so more often than not, have no sympathy for people who do.

Good for you! I’m very similar in that I am not easily shocked, but I have been known to edit out parts of a blog post in a last minute panic. Maybe I need to stop doing that!

At the end of the The Cows I was massively taken aback by the ending. Did you consider any other outcomes or was the novel always going to end the way it did?

I worked out the ending about half way through. I wrote The Cows in the year following having my first kid. I was stressed and up against it time wise. I didn’t have time to write a plan, so every day I sat down to write, I didn’t know what would happen by the end of the day. It was hard, but also riveting. I never thought the book would be such a success, because I went through so much writing it. But maybe that pressure worked well for me in the end. It certainly didn’t do any harm.

Wow huge respect to you! That must have taken some dedication to sit down and write, I could barely string a sentence together in the year after giving birth!  

What advice do you give to women out there who feel under pressure to meet female stereotypes, and how do you as a woman break away from following the herd?

I mean, the only advice there is, is to be yourself. Don’t compromise yourself to satisfy how other people think that you should be. It just makes you miserable. The most interesting people are the ones who speak their own mind, dress, behave and live their own way. You don’t have to be anything more or less than what you are. God, the world would be so boring if everyone conformed. Women will never be equal if we try to fit in.

You don’t have to be the boss, you don’t have to achieve massive things, be well know, be successful financially, all you need is to say how you feel and not be afraid to do so.

Amazing advice! Your words sum up everything I want my daughters to know and, actually, everything I want my sons to know. 

So what’s next for you in terms of writing? Do you have any ideas in the pipeline of how you will top the success of The Cows?

I am currently in the process of plotting my next novel. It’s true, there is a lot of pressure when you follow a big success. But I have to write what my heart tells me to write, and not what I think will sell. I truly believe that if you do that when you are creating, you will always succeed. I want to write another book that people want to read until the end. Where they think about the characters after they have finished the book, and a book in which they can lose themselves, and possibly even find a little bit of themselves. No pressure then.

I have no doubt that you will achieve all of those things and more, and I for one can’t wait to read it! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions and, most of all, for being so honest and open, and sharing advice we can all use and learn from.

It has been a real honour to interview Dawn and her words left me feeling empowered, inspired, a little braver in my choices and opinions, and gave me a much needed reminder that we should never apologise for being exactly who we are.

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110 Comments

    • Laura Dove
      April 27, 2018 / 10:11 pm

      You should give it a read, it’s a lot of fun! xx

  1. hannah wood
    April 27, 2018 / 12:42 pm

    I love this Lady I have not seen her about much lately looks like she has been very busy too.

    • Laura Dove
      April 27, 2018 / 10:11 pm

      Yes! Juggling a baby and a book is tough going! xx

  2. April 27, 2018 / 1:19 pm

    Nothing is as awesome as getting to meet one of your icons and even hold a conversation, or rather, interview…just like you had this one with Dawn Oporter! You must be feeling so humbled,right?
    Anyway, I really like her perspective; the society should really learn to appreciate the voices of women and respect their choices of having, or not having kids. And as a lover of novels, I think I’d also love ‘The Cows’ now that it is full of emotions as you say. I love such!

    • Laura Dove
      April 27, 2018 / 10:09 pm

      Thank you Dalene! It’s great to read a book and then be able to quiz the author further. I am huge fan! xx

  3. April 27, 2018 / 1:25 pm

    Now I am sorry I have’t read the book. Sounds really inspiring. I never wanted to have kids until one day i just changed my mind. And i never regretted the decision. But it would be interesting to read about other mums, who not necessary want to be mums

    • Laura Dove
      April 27, 2018 / 10:08 pm

      Yes I think it’s interesting to read about those with different goals in life. For me, I always wanted to be a mum, but I totally support those who don’t! xx

  4. April 27, 2018 / 2:35 pm

    Thank-you for sharing this interview, it was a very interesting read. I love thinking that to some, you will be inspirational. This is such a good motto to live by when sharing online. It can be so scary when thinking about feedback but it is important to think about the people that will gain benefit from it! Thank-you!

    • Laura Dove
      April 27, 2018 / 10:07 pm

      Yes I felt the same, it’s made me feel a little braver that’s for sure! xx

  5. April 27, 2018 / 6:07 pm

    I love what she says. ‘just be yourself, don’t compromise, it just makes your miserable” it’s so true and yet so many people still try to be the image of what they project other people want to see.

    • Laura Dove
      April 27, 2018 / 10:06 pm

      Me too! Those are words to live by right there! xx

  6. April 27, 2018 / 6:49 pm

    Amazing Laura! I have always totally fan girled Dawn (and had a big crush on her hubby lol). I just finished the Cows (couldn’t put it down) so reading this was the perfect find this evening! Thank you!

    • Laura Dove
      April 27, 2018 / 10:05 pm

      Haha me too! Maybe I should have told her that…slightly awkward perhaps! It’s fab isn’t it? I can’t wait for her next novel! xx

  7. April 27, 2018 / 7:30 pm

    Great interview, I love Dawn O’Porter – have watched a lot of documentaries she has presented. Sounds like she speaks a lot of sense to me!

    • Laura Dove
      April 27, 2018 / 10:04 pm

      Me too, she isn’t afraid to speak her mind and I really admire that! xx

  8. April 27, 2018 / 8:04 pm

    It just be so exciting to meet someone that has impacted your life even a little. I’d love to meet some of my favourite authors. What was your favourite answer from Dawn?

    • Laura Dove
      April 27, 2018 / 10:04 pm

      My favourite answer was in response to how do we as women stand out from the herd. I think she is inspirational! xx

  9. April 27, 2018 / 8:23 pm

    I can’t lie, I’ve not had the pleasure of reading any of Dawns work but the book ( as well as Dawn herself) sounds amazing! Fab interview hun xx

    • Laura Dove
      April 27, 2018 / 10:04 pm

      Thanks Lucie! If you get the chance I totally recommend it! xx

  10. April 27, 2018 / 8:25 pm

    I live for Dawn’s Instastories and so loved reading this. I’ve been dying to buy The Cows for weeks now but you’ve just made me shove it up to the top of my Amazon wishlist! Great interview Laura! x

    • Laura Dove
      April 27, 2018 / 10:03 pm

      Ah fab!! You will love it I’m sure, it has me laughing out loud!! xx

  11. April 27, 2018 / 9:12 pm

    Great interview! Wish she would do a few more of her documentaries, loved her on those! Need to get hold of a copy of her book now! 🙂

    • Laura Dove
      April 27, 2018 / 10:02 pm

      Oh me too! I still watch them when they are on repeat! There’s no-one quite like her! xx

  12. April 27, 2018 / 9:28 pm

    This is such a great interview, how amazing you got to converse with her after reading her book. I remember reading your review and it seemed like you really took something form the book.

    • Laura Dove
      April 27, 2018 / 10:02 pm

      I really did, and getting to ask her all about it was so interesting! She is such a wise lady! xx

  13. April 27, 2018 / 11:23 pm

    Well done for showing that sometimes people to stereotype a lot! what I liked the most it’s to enlighten the fact that some women don’t want kids and that’s fine!

    • Laura Dove
      April 28, 2018 / 10:45 am

      Yes I think it’s something we often struggle to understand, which his fine, but we should always accept. xx

  14. April 28, 2018 / 1:42 am

    This is such an interesting interview. This sounds like such a fascinating book because women are judged for every decision in every aspect of their lives. It’s s interesting that Dawn didn’t have a set plan when she started writing, amazing!

    • Laura Dove
      April 28, 2018 / 10:45 am

      Yes I love that! I think sometimes just going with your gut is a great way to be! xx

  15. April 28, 2018 / 1:49 am

    She sounds amazing and I love how supportive she is of women and our different lifestyle choices. I think it’s a book that I’d love to pick up and read now thanks for this wonderful interview!

    • Laura Dove
      April 28, 2018 / 10:44 am

      She’s great Alison and so talented in so many ways. I really admire her! xx

  16. April 28, 2018 / 5:14 am

    She is indeed an amazing lady, though I haven’t yet read “The Cows”, her attitude has made me a fan of her for sure. Indeed if a woman does not want to have kids, she still must be respected, so much our society needs to learn!

    • Laura Dove
      April 28, 2018 / 10:43 am

      I agree, it’s great that people are speaking out about that to change others stance on it! xx

  17. April 28, 2018 / 9:36 am

    A thoroughly engaging and well wrote interview. It certainly made me feel I was getting to know Dawn more and understand her writing processes with her book. It’s interesting to read how people’s lives influence them and how much I could relate to her.

    • Laura Dove
      April 28, 2018 / 10:42 am

      Me too, she is so honest and open, I really admire that! xx

  18. April 28, 2018 / 9:55 am

    Fab interview. I’m going to put The Cows on my “to read” list.

    • Laura Dove
      April 28, 2018 / 10:42 am

      Oh yay! I hope you love it! xx

  19. Hannah Swancott
    April 28, 2018 / 11:29 am

    Oh I love her! Such a great interview, she’s such a talented lady! Hilarious too!

  20. Vivian
    April 28, 2018 / 2:23 pm

    It’s so lovely to hear you had the opportunity to interview someone you really admire! I’m always on the lookout for new authors and book recommendations~

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:05 pm

      Thanks Vivian! xx

  21. April 28, 2018 / 2:24 pm

    I am going to suggest reading The Cows to my book group. Thank you for the inspiration.

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:05 pm

      Ohh fab! You will love it! xx

  22. April 28, 2018 / 2:51 pm

    I actually bought this book a few weeks ago as everyone seemed to be talking about it so this is really cool x

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:06 pm

      Ah yay! It’s fab isn’t it? xx

  23. April 28, 2018 / 2:54 pm

    What an interesting interview. She sounds great. First time I am hearing about her.

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:06 pm

      Oh she’s amazing! xx

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:06 pm

      She says it like it is and I LOVE that! xx

  24. April 28, 2018 / 4:31 pm

    While I am embarrassed to admit that I don’t know the last time I have even read a book, I have a feeling I would actually really like this one – I just read your review about it too, sounds funny!

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:09 pm

      Oh I’m sure you would! It’s FAB! xx

  25. April 28, 2018 / 9:09 pm

    What a great opportunity for you to interview Dawn. Personally I had no idea who she was until I read this. Looks like I may have found some holiday reading materiel.

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:09 pm

      It would make a great holiday read! xx

  26. April 28, 2018 / 9:42 pm

    What an amazing opportunity lovely. I’ve always admired Dawn O’Porter and I love the fact that she stands up for what she believes in. I really need to read this book. Hugs Lucy xxxx

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:09 pm

      Me too Lucy! She has really balls and I love that! xx

  27. April 29, 2018 / 9:57 am

    I would love to read Cows! I think I am going to head over to the KIndle store now, thanks for sharing!

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:09 pm

      Ohh fab! Hope you enjoy! xx

  28. April 29, 2018 / 10:15 am

    I am familiar with her name but not works, she sounds like a well rounded woman and loving the book.

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:10 pm

      She just talks real sense and I think we could all do with a little more of that in our lives! xx

  29. April 29, 2018 / 3:29 pm

    Love this interview its made me want to buy the book (heading to amazon now) for when we go away at half term. I am all about empowering women to make the right decisions for themselves even if they are different from what others choose. Really inspiring xx

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:10 pm

      Yes totally! And to see high profile celebrities like Dawn speaking out about that is just great to see! xx

  30. April 29, 2018 / 5:57 pm

    I LOVE Dawn Porter and this is a brilliant interview, fab questions! Her words, advice and attitude to life is something to aspire to. I’m reading Cows at the moment and I’m loving it x

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:11 pm

      Totally agree! Her advice is spot on! xx

  31. April 29, 2018 / 6:36 pm

    What a brilliant interview, I love the questions that you asked. And I love Dawn’s advice to be yourself – there is so many different ideas and pressures for women. We need to just breathe and be ourself!

    • Laura Dove
      May 9, 2018 / 10:50 pm

      Thank you Becky. She’s amazing isn’t she? I love her advice too! xx

  32. Komal
    April 29, 2018 / 7:00 pm

    It is so amazing that you were able to get this opportunity to pick apart the authors brain!

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:11 pm

      Yes! I loved that! xx

  33. April 29, 2018 / 7:37 pm

    I am such a super fan of Dawn and this interview is amazing! I am now an even bigger fan of hers. I loved her novel x

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:11 pm

      Me too Emma, she is amazing! xx

  34. April 29, 2018 / 8:10 pm

    Very interesting interview, she is a very inspiring woman! Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:11 pm

      Thank you for reading! xz

  35. April 29, 2018 / 8:44 pm

    I have not had the opportunity to read this book but after reading this interview the next task is to get a copy and read it. Great interview, really enjoyed it.

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:12 pm

      Thank you Nayna! xx

  36. April 29, 2018 / 9:49 pm

    Oh this is amazing, how exciting for you! I freaking LOVE Dawn O’Porter! Her book sounds really interesting, I will definitely be picking up a copy x

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:12 pm

      Me too!! I’m sure you will love it! xx

  37. Jennifer
    April 30, 2018 / 12:35 am

    How fun that you got to interview her. Her books sound fab, and I absolutely love her personal style. So cute!

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:13 pm

      Yes! she is a really strong, independent lady and I think we could all learn a lot from her! xx

  38. April 30, 2018 / 6:25 am

    It is a wonderful feeling to meet up someone who is your idol. I love the sound of her book and she is beautiful too!

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:13 pm

      She is just fabulous! xx

  39. April 30, 2018 / 6:35 am

    It is a wonderful feeling to meet up someone who is your idol. I love the sound of her book and she is looking beautiful too!

  40. April 30, 2018 / 10:39 am

    What a fabulous interview! You love for her work clearly shines through the interview questions. Loved reading about Dawn and her point of view and thoughts on life. Loving the accompanying photos as well x

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:13 pm

      Thank you for reading! xx

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:13 pm

      I am sure you will enjoy it! xx

  41. April 30, 2018 / 3:03 pm

    fabulous interview ! I’m not familiar with her and the book but I will pick it up and give it a chance because you make it sound so promising ! Reading you is always a pleasure ready you darling

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:14 pm

      Thank you Denni! xx

  42. bryanna skye
    April 30, 2018 / 5:24 pm

    great interview!! it makes me want to check out this book – I’m looking for something good to read, so perfect timing for me 🙂

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:14 pm

      Oh fab! enjoy it! xx

  43. April 30, 2018 / 10:56 pm

    Aw that is so sweet that you were able to interview one of your idols and she is exactly like you ; refreshingly outspoken, kind hearted and has a way with words. Also I think that it is time to put ‘Cows’ on my reading list as well.

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:14 pm

      Ana you will love it! One of the main characters is a blogger so I’m sure you will find similarities! xx

  44. May 1, 2018 / 7:23 am

    Oh I am every so slightly jealous. I love Dawn…….I really want to read this book

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:15 pm

      She’s fabulous isn’t she? The book is everything you would expect! xx

  45. May 1, 2018 / 1:10 pm

    I used to read Dawn’s column for…I think it was Stylist…and really enjoyed it. This was a lovely interview. Well done!

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:16 pm

      Me too! I loved it! xx

  46. Jemma
    May 1, 2018 / 1:16 pm

    I really loved her podcast, but sadly she doesn’t seem to record it anymore. This was a great interview to read.

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:16 pm

      Thanks Jemma! xx

  47. May 1, 2018 / 7:30 pm

    Oh wow what a great interview, normally I get bored reading these interview style posts but I felt like I was right there with you both! It hooked me in. I think Dawn in great too, so will check out this book

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:16 pm

      That’s great. thank you! I think it’s impossible to get bored where Dawn is concerned! xx

  48. May 1, 2018 / 8:48 pm

    This sounds a really interesting book, I’m intrigued by the idea that the three main characters each being based on Dawn herself. Lucky you for having a full child free session to devour it, I love that kind of day. Mich x

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:17 pm

      Oh me too! I didn’t move from the couch! xx

  49. May 1, 2018 / 9:48 pm

    Great Interview and I bet it was such a highlight! We like Dawn O’Porter too and her honesty. Sounds like our kinds book x

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:17 pm

      Her honesty is just admirable and shines through in her novels! xx

  50. Joanna
    May 2, 2018 / 7:26 am

    This interview made me so want to read the book. I am one of those people who don’t really want children but there is pressure from the society, as not wanting children is still seen as strange.

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:17 pm

      Oh I bet you will really relate to the character of Cam then! xx

  51. May 2, 2018 / 7:33 pm

    What a brilliant interview, I loved reading it! I have always been a fan of Dawn x

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:17 pm

      Thank you Charli! xx

  52. May 3, 2018 / 6:48 am

    I’d never heard of this book before. Sounds really great though – I love books with characters you really feel for. I used to read a lot of crime, but I prefer ones with interesting characters at the moment. Thanks for sharing this interview.

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:19 pm

      I’m the same! I really got into thrillers but now I have less time to read I want to really engage with the characters and get more out of it! xx

  53. chichi
    May 3, 2018 / 6:44 pm

    That is actually a great inspiring message, to be able to say how one feels without being afraid xx

    • Laura Dove
      May 4, 2018 / 11:19 pm

      YES! What fab advice that is right? xx

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