Besides the title of best-selling author accompanying her name for her I Heart series of books, British-born and New York-based writer Lindsey Kelk is also rather hilarious and tuned in to fashion, beauty, and pop culture, which we found out when we met her at the Toronto launch of her newest book, The Single Girl’s To Do List ($16, chapters.indigo.ca). The book is about a London editorial makeup artist, Rachel, who gets dumped out of the blue by her long-term boyfriend. She picks up the pieces by completing the titular list, and her insights along the way include cringe-worthy perfumes and cult beauty products, TV hunks, and plenty of Mad Men references that help us with our show withdrawal. There’s even a trip to visit a long lost crush that lives in Toronto. Now with the book climbing the Amazon bestsellers list, and a brilliant op ed about Chick Lit in the National Post, we spoke to her about our favourite three references in the book.
1. A creepy guy in the supermarket who tries to pick Rachel up: Something reeking of YSL Kouros nodded at me over the croissants. Anastasia, an over-the-top model who drives Rachel crazy at work: Her perfume was almost enough to push me right over the edge—supermodels still wore Angel? As she got closer, I stopped being able to smell it and actually began to taste it. And if she hugged me any tighter, my children would be born smelling of it.
Lindsey Kelk: “Particularly, those two—the Angel and the YSL—they are fragrances that have played a part in my past. Whenever I smell Angel it literally takes me back to my first year of university where I had a roommate that wore it. She would wear so much that you could smell it in your room. She’d be in another room and it was like, ‘Oh my God! How is this happening?’ Every time I would smell it after that I would be like, ‘Oh my God, that is the most offensive smell on earth.’ It gets right under your skin and the people that wear it, I feel like they think they’re onto this top-super-amazing secret of a sophisticated signature scent and it’s like, ‘Dude, it’s everywhere.’ When I was writing that character, it really struck me she would be the girl that would wear that.”
2. Rachel’s boyfriend sneaks out when he leaves her, taking with him two items of significance, of which she relates to her two best friends. “He’s taken the Mad Men DVDs,” I said eventually. My voice sounded thick and tragic.
“Had you finished watching them?” [Matthew] asked.
I shook my head.
“Fils de pute,” Emelie breathed. “It’s one thing to take a girl’s toothpaste, it’s another to take her Don Draper—.”
LK: “I love Mad Men, I’m obsessed with the show. In my last relationship, there was a little bit of Mad Men drama at the end. My ex was super into Mad Men, so I was like, ‘I’m not going to watch it because I hate you so much and it must suck because you suck.’ And then when I actually came around to watching it, I was like, ‘Damn, this is really good!’ I love the show. I love the fashion. I actually interviewed Janie Bryant, the costume designer, last year [for Grazia] and it took me so much deeper into it and now I’m utterly obsessed.”
3. A new email from an old crush, read by her bestie Matthew, followed by Rachel’s opinion on an offending abbreviation found within: “‘…I moved to Toronto after A levels when my dad got a job out here. It’s pretty awesome. I’m a high school music teacher now—who’d believe it after how bad I sucked in orchestra, right? Lol!’”
Hmm. Wasn’t sure the father of my children would Lol.
LK: “I’m quite guilty of doing it in the ironic sense. My friend will be like, ‘I LOL’d,’ and I’ll be like, ‘LOL.’ I once went out with a guy I met on an online dating site because in his online profile it said, ‘I like to chill and I like to relax, but I never chillax. If you do we should not date,’ and I was like, ‘I’m going to go out with you.’ He was like, ‘no LOLs, no OMGs.’ It’s not dignified for a man. It’s one thing to do it for your friends and laugh but it’s not dignified. If you’re looking at genetic material: No.”