Twelve Questions: Wendyl Nissen

Wendyl Nissen is the Green Goddess, a former women's magazine editor turned chemical-free businesswoman and columnist who has just written her first novel, The Road from Midnight. She is planning a move to the Hokianga.

Wendyl Nissen says she was a bitch when she was involved with women's magazines, but has now left it all behind. Photo / Richard Robinson
Wendyl Nissen says she was a bitch when she was involved with women's magazines, but has now left it all behind. Photo / Richard Robinson

1. Has your mother read all the sex bits in your new book?

Mum and Dad read all my books and Mum came up with one of the plot lines in the novel. I presume she's read the sex bits but she may have skipped over them. We haven't had a chat about that.

2. Do you care less about sex as you get older?

No, no, no. I possibly care more about it. I think it's really important as you get older as a woman. It's always been a huge deal for me. I love nothing better than those stories of 70-year-old women having rabid sex lives. But look, it's an individual thing. There are definitely some women who have kids and can't be arsed or perhaps it's not really their thing but for other women it's very important. The bad news is you have to keep in practice. You have to keep it up.

3. Do you regret any of your sexual history?

No, none at all. I haven't really had a big sexual past. I can still count on the fingers of both hands how many people I've slept with. I was pretty careful and I don't think I made any bad decisions.

4. Will you always be a women's magazine editor at heart?

God no! I can't even enter a women's magazine office without breaking out in a cold sweat. The person I was then bears little resemblance to the person I am now. The transition came out of necessity - I was a bitch and hated myself. When you spend your life telling people's secrets without their permission, it takes a personal toll. Otherwise you'd have to be a terrible person. I look at what's happening to Rebekah Brooks and think, 'good'. That's exactly what should be happening to her.

5. Do celebrities make good friends?

Ah, no. Generally, celebrities as friends have a short lifespan with me because I have a very low boredom threshold for bad behaviour and fighting narcissism on a daily basis can be very tiring. I love big personalities - always have. But I like the rare celebrity whose narcissism is under control. Speaking of narcissists I still miss Paul Holmes dreadfully and think of him most days. He contributed so much to my life and many others.

6. What's the appeal of an isolated lifestyle block in the Hokianga, and will it last?

I inherited this dream from my father. Sunday drives when I was a child often involved looking at and dreaming about coastal country land. This has been my goal for the past 10 years and I've been in training, learning how to garden, compost, raise hens and bake sourdough bread. It's also taken 10 years for [husband] Paul [Little] to want it too. So now he's on the same page it will last. We're keeping a place in Auckland for now but I want to be just gardening, and writing, at our home in the Hokianga.

7. Are you a good friend?

I hope so! As I get older I don't have a lot of close friends, mainly because we have five children and what little time I have free I like to spend it with them. When we are all in a room with their partners and children we number 12. Those 12 people plus our three elderly parents are the centre of my life. My few close friends will tell you that I'm a great shoulder to cry on and a persistent advice giver.

8. What are the best and worst aspects of ageing?

The best part is experience and you become much wiser and make much better decisions and become a better friend. Better everything I think. I don't think there is a bad part of ageing. I see my parents, who are in their 80s, their bodies are slowing down and that's tough. But I'm not one of those women who worries about my looks as I age. I'm the Green Goddess. I believe in natural, so that's the way you go.

9. How do you cope with criticism?

Not at all well. Actually worse than that, I hate it, the person giving it, and will ignore it. That's why I work for myself. I wrote this book about five years ago. Nicky [Pellegrino] helped me a lot with it and I sent it to a publisher. The reaction wasn't the one I hoped for. I thought 'f*** that, I can't write' and put it away. Nicky made me publish it now. She said 'Come on, what have you got to lose?'

10. How would your enemies describe you - and what would they get wrong?

I didn't think I had any enemies. If you can find one you might want to ask him. I'd like to think he'd say I was too thin but I'm not getting my hopes up.

11. Have you ever had drinking issues?
I don't have an alcoholic gene thank God and I have known a lot of those who do really struggle with it. It's an easy way to medicate if you have to and there were times when I was in mags that you'd find yourself opening the third bottle of wine, just for you. Or when you talk to your kids in the morning and you'd have said something to them that you can't remember saying. I drink a lot less these days. I think you have to with kids. My thrills these days come from having these wonderful relationships with them, sitting around the table with them for a Sunday night dinner.

12. You've disclosed a lot in your weekly Herald column: your greying hair; why you don't wear a bra; why you don't remove your pubic hair. Are you over-sharing?

Probably. It's what I do for a job. I can leave that job anytime I want and I will if it becomes too much. My mum sometimes says, 'The bridge ladies tell me that ...', but my parents are very liberal and open-minded and let me be who I am.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 26 Oct 2014 14:16:47 Processing Time: 319ms