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Elevated Women: Writer Joey Hespe
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Elevated Women: Writer Joey Hespe

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Inspired by our Book Club collection, for this edition of Elevated Women we chat with freelance writer and aspiring author, Joey Hespe.

Meeting at the apartment of interior designer Emma Blomfield, we photographed Joey in some favourite pieces from our AW24 collection.

What inspired you to become a writer, and how did you discover your passion for storytelling?

Writing has always been a part of who I am and how I express my feelings about the world around me. I started writing poems when I was quite young, but it wasn’t until year twelve that my English teacher told me my fiction writing had promise and I truly believed I could be ‘good’ at writing. When I finished my Art Theory degree at university, I went straight into working for commercial art galleries and auction houses. I was able to fulfil my love of writing by immersing myself in the work of artists and writing about their work became a real passion. But I always loved escaping into fiction, and recall reading Harry Potter when I was twelve or thirteen and the impact it had on me. Writing really can transport the reader to another world, and there is a sort of magic in it, which I have always been drawn to creating.
I have piles of diaries hidden away that contain hundreds of pieces of poetry I have written over the years. I have recently started sharing my writing on my Substack page, and some of my poems from over the years are being featured on there.

Joey wears the Jane Striped Knit in Blue/Sand over the Eyre Half Contrast Shirt in Pink/Camel and the Lauren Wide Leg Jeans in Pebble.

What are you currently working on?

I’ve just finished my manuscript. It’s taken me five years to get to this point and although there is still a lot of work to do on editing and re-writing, I am so happy to have gotten this far.

I’m also tutoring writers who are working on their first draft of their novels through the Writer’s Studio in Sydney. The Writer’s Studio have been imperative to my novel writing journey, and I love being able to nurture other writer’s dreams in the same way. I also work as a freelance arts writer and copywriter, which keeps me busy in between spending time with my three-year-old daughter.

Joey wears the Thomas Corduroy Jacket and Pant in Toffee with the Melville Spot Intarsia Knit in Toffee/Ink.

Are you able to share a little more about your manuscript with our readers?

The genre is Young Adult Fantasy. It is set between two worlds, Maitland, an historic regional town in NSW, and the Etherworld, a fictional world based on Scottish folklore and fairy-tale. 

After the death of her grandmother, seventeen-year-old Olive Lockhart discovers her hidden heritage as a powerful witch from another world, but when her mother mysteriously disappears, she must navigate through time to rescue her from the clutches of an ancient witch hunter, who also happens to be her father, all while unravelling the secrets of her own extraordinary abilities.  

This story touches on themes of self-discovery, female empowerment, strength, and romance. Olive's journey is marked by her quest to uncover her identity as a witch and reconcile her heritage with her desire for autonomy. As she grapples with her newfound powers and confronts the dangers lurking in both her world and the Etherworld, Olive must navigate the complexities of her relationships with her mother, the father who is hunting her, and the magical creatures she encounters along the way. Ultimately, Olive's quest for independence and her determination to protect her loved ones drive the narrative forward, highlighting the importance of self-discovery and the bonds that connect us to our past and future.

Joey wears the Boulevard Silk Shirt and Skirt

Joey wears the Boulevard Silk Shirt and Boulevard Half Circle Skirt. 

Do you have a favourite book you’ve recently read?

Emmie and The Tudor King series by Natalie Murray. I happened across an interview with Natalie Murray about a different book of hers on the local news. I love supporting local authors (she lives in Lake Macquarie), so I ordered the first book in the series and was finished in a day. I then ordered the Omnibus version (all three books) and was so enthralled that I couldn’t put it down. The story follows Emmie Grace, a high school student who happens upon a ring that gives her the ability to time travel between present day America and sixteenth century Tudor England, where she falls in love with a Tudor King. It’s got steamy romance, amazing world building historical fiction, and a beautiful storyline.

What is a book that has inspired you?

I’ve always been an Historical Fiction and Romantasy gal, so when I come across books that alter my perception of what I like to read, it’s a big thing. I found What’s Left of The Night by Ersi Sotiropoulos (based on the Greek-Egyptian poet C.P Cavafy) in a bookshop in Santorini in 2019. It’s an incredibly slow-paced story, but the protagonist’s inner voice is so distinct, and the writing so detailed. I took inspiration from this book in terms of slowing down my storytelling and making sure to detail everything.

Joey wears the Thomas Corduroy Jacket and Pant in Toffee with the Melville Spot Intarsia Knit in Toffee/Ink.

Where in the world do you feel most at home?

I love being at home in Lorn, in regional NSW with my husband, our daughter and our Kelpie. Amidst the pandemic, my husband and I made the decision to relocate from Sydney to Lorn, and we haven’t looked back. We have such a lovely community here and our dwelling—a 19th-century historic house with a rich past as both the council chambers and a returned serviceman’s hospital during World War I—is a source of endless inspiration and joy. Finding solace in our wildflower garden, sipping tea, and observing the native fauna darting about never fails to bring a smile to my face.

How would you describe your style?

I’m a jeans and t-shirt girl at heart, but I love an opportunity to express myself through my clothes. I grew up in a family who were heavily immersed in the rag-trade (my mum made all our clothes growing up) and so I have always appreciated beautiful fabrics and well-constructed clothes. My style reflects a relaxed Parisian aesthetic and my go to’s are tailored pants and a matching blazer with a t-shirt or button-down shirt.

The Atrium Knit Top and Knit Pleated Skirt

 Joey wears the Atrium Knit Top and Atrium Knit Pleat Skirt in Berry.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Keep writing, listen to your intuition, and don’t doubt yourself. No one becomes perfect at their craft overnight. 

Which product can you not live without?

My laptop. All of my writing, manuscript writing software, and ability to connect with my writers is all online through my laptop. 

What is your favourite thing to do to give back to the world/pay it forward?

I’ve been a volunteer now for around ten years. I started by volunteering on arts boards and committees, helping raise funds for organisations, and although I still do this type of work, I also volunteer with a domestic violence shelter for women in my local community.

Joey wears the Nucleus Drawcord Knit

Sam (left) wears the Nucleus Pocket Tee in Forest and the Clese Bias Skirt in Ink, and Joey wears the Nucleus Drawcord Knit in Mist with the Harper Straight Crop Jean in Pebble.

Follow Joey on Substack and Instagram.

Photography by Michael Naumoff.

Shop Joey's edit here.

Special thanks to interior designer Emma Blomfield and her pup Louis for letting us borrow their beautiful apartment.