Thoughts on being a Cleo Bachelor of the Year

I was hol­i­day­ing in South Amer­ica a cou­ple of weeks ago when the inter­net announced my inclu­sion among the fifty Cleo Bach­e­lor of the Year final­ists. Twit­ter and Face­book start­ing flut­ter­ing about all the 2011 bach­e­lors imme­di­ately and some of posters were even kind enough to flut­ter about me. At the exact same time I was in a bath­room in Men­doza, Argentina invol­un­tar­ily emp­ty­ing my body of its insides. I had eaten a bad and con­gealy Creamy Pasta ear­lier in the day (I was later told one should never order foods with adjec­tives in the title – Thick Shake, Hot Dog, etc) and was cramped over a toi­let bowl work­ing my damned hard­est to switch effi­ciently between my mouth and my back­side. We’ve all had to do this at one stage of life or another. It’s hor­ri­ble. You want to die. I did it for hours while folks at home clicked ‘Vote’ next to my soft-focus face. It was hor­ri­ble. I wanted to die.

Hav­ing said that, I’m totally flat­tered I was asked to be one of this year’s bach­e­lors. I think it’s great that Cleo looks to writ­ers when form­ing their annual pool of eli­gi­ble dudes. Last year the super-talented Craig Sil­vey was a Cleo bach­e­lor. This year Nam Le and Jon Bauer must have missed the call and not checked their voice­mails. Not me though. I always check my voice­mail. Oth­er­wise I’d never hear from my extended fam­ily. Or my publicist.

It’s obvi­ously a pretty strange thing being a Cleo bach­e­lor. My mum says she’s become quite the celebrity at work. And when peo­ple try to talk to me about it I find myself either guf­faw­ing all over their shoes or deny­ing the fact completely. And then there’s the age-old ques­tion: are all the bach­e­lors really bach­e­lors? Let’s just say that it’s sim­i­lar to the Miss Uni­verse beauty pageant in that Miss Uni­verse is never actu­ally a mem­ber of the fam­ily Universe.

So far all I’ve done in the name of Cleo bach­e­lor­ship has been rock up to a photo shoot and vote for Paul Ver­ho­even. Although the Cleo bach­e­lor party hap­pens in Syd­ney soon, which I am sure will be a Life Expe­ri­ence like I’ve not had before. I’m look­ing for­ward to it. The only other thing I’ve done in my Cleo bach­e­lor duties has been to answer a long list of Get­ting To Know You ques­tions that they send to all the bach­e­lors. A few of my answers to these ques­tions were pub­lished online and in the mag­a­zine, but I thought I’d share the entire list with you here. If noth­ing else, it’s fas­ci­nat­ing to see what a Cleo bach­e­lor gets asked.

Andrew McDon­ald


Where did you grow up?

What do you do?
Children’s book author.

A day at work involves …
Think­ing about and mak­ing plans for whichever project I’m meant to be writ­ing that day. Then com­pletely self-doubting myself about the worth of said project. Then lunch. After which, a mild melt­down involv­ing tears and fin­gers run­ning through hair. Fol­lowed by a pro­cras­ti­na­tory hour of blog­ging. And then a good hour or so of qual­ity writ­ing before din­ner. A lot of peo­ple say that writ­ers are tor­tured and dra­matic crea­tures but I per­son­ally can’t see it.

You dream of work­ing with …
Pixar. I don’t think there’s many children’s authors (or authors in gen­eral) who don’t wor­ship the com­pany and envy the amaz­ing sto­ry­telling that takes place in every sin­gle film they seem to put out.

How would your best friend describe you?
Down to earth, friendly and very tal­ented – with only occa­sional bursts of megalomania.

Your child­hood nick­name?
Macca. And that was the clos­est I ever got to being on the foot­ball team.

Who’s your hero?
I think Buffy cre­ator and movie/TV guru Joss Whe­don is pretty fan­tas­tic. If I could cre­ate the com­plex uni­verses and char­ac­ters he has I’d be happy with myself.

The fic­tional char­ac­ter you most resem­ble?
Phys­i­cally I’m Willy Wonka (colour­ful dresser), emo­tion­ally I’m Fan­tas­tic Mr Fox (erratic and mis­chie­vous) and men­tally I’m Matilda (I like to think I have super powers).

Your motto is …
All sto­ries must have a begin­ning and a mid­dle. (It’s a motto-in-progress).

The last lie you told?
“No, Mum, just because I’m hav­ing left­overs of the left­overs from the week­end for din­ner, doesn’t mean I’m a strug­gling writer.” I was and I am.

The last text you received?
You missed a call from 0407 *** ***. You have one new voice mes­sage. (The vibrate but­ton on my phone has been dis­as­trous for my social life.)

Any unusual tal­ents?
I do an impres­sive karaoke ren­di­tion of the Jack­son 5’s ABC.

Your most embar­rass­ing moment?
How about putting pho­tos of myself on the inter­net, in the form of a silly blog post called ‘A Pic­to­r­ial Guide to Avoid­ing Cam­era Loss’, and hav­ing all man­ner of strangers, ex-girlfriends and dis­tant fam­ily mem­bers get in touch after it went viral.

What gets on your nerves?
Ants on the kitchen bench. Freak­ing infuriating.

What makes you ner­vous?
Show­ing a new piece of writ­ing to some­one for the first time. Not that I’m a sucker for approval, but it’s scary giv­ing some­thing you’ve been work­ing on alone for a long time over to some­one who is not you.

When were you hap­pi­est?
I had a par­tic­u­larly big amount of fun around the age of ten. Pretty much every­thing was a good time back then. Which no doubt is why my book The Great­est Blog­ger in the World is set dur­ing that time of life. I was reliv­ing the good ol’ days.

We’d never catch you …
…read­ing my own book on the train. Or any­where. *Cringe*

Best/worst dat­ing advice you’ve ever received?
That old say­ing about the body lan­guage of feet has mis­led me on more than one occa­sion. Appar­ently, if someone’s shoes are point­ing towards you it either means they like you OR they’re just stand­ing near you, com­pletely pheromone­less. Like I said, misleading.

Best/worst date expe­ri­ence?
Romp­ing about New York City for a week with a (then new) spe­cial some­one would prob­a­bly be the best week­long date I’ve been on. And the worst is always when you realise, half-way through the date, that it’ll be the last date. From there: downhill.

Your fave chick flick?
Thelma and Louise.

A sure-fire way to your heart is …
…a good book rec­om­men­da­tion. I’m com­pletely trusting/loving of any­one who puts me onto books I’m going to adore.

Cra­zi­est thing you’ve done for a girl?
In pri­mary school I had a rather large crush on a girl in my class, so every day after school I would climb a tall tree near her house and watch her walk­ing home. On reflec­tion that does sound more creepy than crazy, but we didn’t have Face­book back then so peo­ple were forced to stalk IRL.

Your trick to impress­ing her mother?
I do a lot of name-dropping. My mum this, my mum that. Some­times the brief men­tion of a grand­mother. Girl­friends’ moth­ers like to know that you’re friends with your own mother. So lots of allu­sions to moth­er­li­ness are good. Although I avoid ref­er­ences to MILFs and Mofos.

How do you deal with break-ups?
I usu­ally jump on my lappy and spend some time delet­ing all of the ‘us’ songs from my iTunes. Then won­der how every Radio­head track became our ‘us’ song in the first place. Then won­der even more how I’m going to deal with a break-up sans Radiohead.

Your great­est asset?
My col­lec­tion of Tintin books. It’s exhaus­tive and dear to my heart and is the one thing I’ve been col­lect­ing all my life.

Your great­est weak­ness?
Gar­lic. I loves it! It’s the strong, over­stinky­ness of gar­lic which becomes my weak­ness when I try to rec­on­cile it with a love life. The gar­lic always wins. Love lives always lose.

What/who are you obsessed with right now?
Bored To Death – the lat­est HBO com­edy – is a cracker. It stars Jason Schwartz­man, Zach Gal­i­fi­anakis and Ted Dan­son and fol­lows a strug­gling writer who makes ends meet by becom­ing an unli­censed pri­vate detec­tive in NYC. Hilarious.

Film/book/album that changed your life?
The old (and in parts ter­ri­fy­ing) Dis­ney film Sleep­ing Beauty taught me to fear as a boy, Arthur Miller’s The Cru­cible opened my eyes to the world as a teenager and Radiohead’s Kid A (whilst not their best album) showed me that sui­ci­dal cre­ative pur­suits can some­times make money.

You don’t under­stand why women …
…read so many more books than men. As soon as you leave pri­mary school the read­ing gen­der scales tip dra­mat­i­cally towards women. I find it some­what inex­plic­a­ble. C’mon guys! Don’t you know books are cool and ‘nerd’ is the new ‘buff’.

Your per­sonal sound­track?
I love me a com­mu­nity radio sta­tion. In Mel­bourne, Triple R and SYN are the win­ning back­ground sound­tracks to my day.

What word/phrase do you overuse?
I overuse ‘sud­denly’ a lot when I’m writ­ing. It’s a cheap and nasty way to tell the reader to have a height­ened sense of expec­ta­tion. Which doesn’t mean I don’t still use it.

Twit­ter or Face­book?

If your life were a TV show, it’d be …
…can­celled after the pilot and lucky to even war­rant a Wikipedia entry.

Your style icon?
I like the way Tina Fey plays up the slob/dag angle to the point that it becomes allur­ing. I’d like to get there one day. As soon as I get past the slob/dag stage.

Your favourite websites/blogs?
The Guardian for news, Spike – the Mean­jin blog for Aus­tralian lit­er­ary stuff and for laffs.

Sat­ur­day night’s alright for …
…con­vic­tion. Either you’re Par­ty­ing, Work­ing, Relax­ing or Endur­ing A Fam­ily Gath­er­ing. As long as you dive head-first into what­ever it is and don’t dilly-dally about every­thing will be alright.

The woman you’d like to be for a day?
Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe. Peo­ple are always say­ing they’d like to invite her to the ulti­mate fan­tasy din­ner party. And I do enjoy din­ner par­ties. Plus I’d love to meet the other din­ner guests like Jesus, Abra­ham Lin­coln, etc.

Best thing about being a bach­e­lor is …
…sub­sti­tut­ing the word ‘pad’ for ‘apart­ment’ in con­ver­sa­tions. Some­times I’d even invite peo­ple back to my BP. Although that line stopped work­ing after the oil spill last year. It really was a public-relations disaster.

You’re look­ing for­ward to …
…releas­ing a new book in 2012. As well as the gen­eral excite­ment of hav­ing a new book out, it’s refresh­ing to do school vis­its to talk about said new book. Vis­it­ing ‘the kids’ is def­i­nitely the coolest and loveli­est part of being a children’s author.

Next thing on your plate?
Fin­ish­ing off the new book and start­ing work on the one after that. A writer’s work is never done, just end­lessly redrafted.

Your Bach­e­lor cam­paign slo­gan?
Children’s authors aren’t just for children.


Hee! Nice pick MaccyD.

This whole thing is just hilarious/brilliant. I plan to use it in con­ver­sa­tion to make myself sound more impor­tant and sophis­ti­cated than I really am. You will be the indie dar­ling of the bunch! Of course, now I sus­pect that your whole home-cooking twit­ter update malarky was sim­ply part of your cam­paign. Hmmmm…

I also expect you to stock­pile lame celebrity gos­sip at the party and then relay it all to me. Thanks!


So I was com­ing on here to tell you how I already thought you were cute/awesome, and your answer to “The fic­tional char­ac­ter you most resem­ble?” just proved it even more. And then I saw your answer about gar­lic being your weak­ness. I think I’m in love! ;-)


I thought you were the cutest out of the who bunch… I’m a huge sucker for guys like you… it’s kinda dorky