Hannah-Rose Yee, Writer

Hannah-Rose Yee is a Sydney lady we've admired for a long while now. She has impeccable taste, an eye for beauty and she writes about fun things in an intelligent and thoughtful way. She's an absolute delight - thanks so much Hannah-Rose! 

What do you do?

I am a writer, mostly about movies and books and television and fashion and travel and food and weird, lifestyle zeitgeist things.

Do you have a maxim that you live and work by?

I live by the maxim that you should love yourself and all of yourself and do only that which makes you happy. Which I suppose is not a bad maxim to work by, either. Nothing resonates more in a story than true passion, the best interviews are the ones where you can feel affection and a connection between interviewer and subject.

What are the three milestones that have led you to where you stand?

I started a blog when I was in high school, which was a place for me to work, journal-style, and try and improve my writing. I met someone who I deeply, deeply admired, who was a writer and also had a blog of her own, and she gave me the single best piece of advice I have ever received and gave me confidence in my work. And I got a job when I was fresh out of university at marie claire, the best magazine in Australia, working under the most talented editors and journalists in the country.

What projects do you have in the pipeline?

I’m working at a new women’s website at the moment as the Entertainment Editor. It’s called whimn.com.au and it’s everything you could possibly want in a website: smart, funny, cool content for smart, funny, cool women. So there’s that, which essentially takes up a huge chunk of my waking brain capacity. I had dinner recently with a friend of mine and we toyed with the idea of doing something together. I personally love podcasts but am not sure that my voice lends itself to radio, unless deep, broad cadence is your particular thing. And I love newsletters. I feel like I consume newsletters the same way I used to consume blogs, which is to say voraciously and greedily. I’m subscribed to something like 19 or 20 and it gives me great pleasure to scroll through them all on a Sunday afternoon.

What is your dream project?

I would love to write in-depth celebrity profiles, the kind where you get to spend more than 15 minutes in the company of your subject, with publicists hovering around checking every question. The kind where you get a glimpse into their life, maybe have dinner together, get under their skin and learn a bit more about what makes them tick. Nothing fascinates me more than modern celebrity culture and the artifice around the fame industry. One day I’d love to be a roving profile writer who actually gets flown around the country – dream big Hannah, the world! – but I feel like the money and the market for that kind of thing is fast drying up.

Can you share a creative experience that you have found defining?

So back in Cobble Hill, when I was 16, my friend who I was living with at the time gave me a copy of I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith to read, and it was one of the most transformative reading experiences of my life. I had never read a book that so encapsulated my inner monologue and aspirations, hopes and dreams, biggest fears and niggling anxieties before. I was blown away. So much so that I named my now defunct blog after that book, as I used that blog the way Cassandra uses her diary in the novel, as a means of becoming a better writer.

What are you listening to, reading, watching of late, that is inspiring or entertaining you?

I just interviewed Pamela Paul, who is the editor of the New York Times Review of Books and the author of a memoir called My Life With Bob, about the reading journal that she has kept since she was 17, and I felt so invigorated after talking to her. She’s an incredibly articulate and engaging woman and anyone who loves reading should read her book. There’s a chapter on books that made her cry that made me cry reading it, thinking about the books that are associated with the people I love. While speaking to her I looked back through my own habits and realised that for the past six months I’ve read exclusively female authors. It wasn’t deliberate, it sort of happened by accident, and yet I guess I gravitate that way anyway. Another brilliant female author I’ve read recently is Elizabeth Day, who is a British journalist that I definitely admire in the feature writing world, and whose fourth novel The Party is out in July. If I had to sum it up I would say it’s The Talented Mr Ripley meets Secret History with a dash of Brideshead Revisited, which is like saying scientists in a lab have formulated the perfect book for me. I also interviewed her recently and she’s yet another inspiring writer of immense intelligence who makes me want to do better work. On a pure popcorn level I have seen Wonder Woman three times already and can’t wait to see it at least once more in cinemas to boost that global box office bottom line. What an exhilarating, thrilling movie that all women should see! Gal Gadot for President and my boyfriend Chris Pine for her adorable, swoon-worthy First Lady.

What is one facet of your field that you want to see change?

There is a complete lack of transparency and literacy around money in publishing that I find difficult to deal with. I’ve been lucky enough to work on staff at both print and digital companies, but when I was freelancing I had no idea about anything to do with rates, invoicing and was so desperate to please that I would never have dared to demand payment for something, even months after it was due. That’s partly an age thing and I do think you get better at that as you get older, but I think you would get better at it quicker if people talked about it more openly. It’s only recently that I’ve seen writers on social media discussing openly their difficulties with navigating payment as a freelancer, all things that I experienced when I was freelancing and thought I was the only one.  

What is the best advice you’ve been given, or wish you had been told sooner?

Your value is you. I’m guilty like any creative person of feeling real envy when I see other people’s success in my own field and when I was younger I definitely compared myself to other people a lot. Doing that means that you can lose your own voice, which is the most compelling and important thing about you. So stop comparing yourself to other people and revel in everyone’s success.

What’s something surprising about you, that we might not know?

Oh this question is hard! I always ask people this but it’s such a tough one to answer… Maybe… I listen to a lot of Desert Island Discs in the bath, which basically makes me a 70 year old woman minus the gardening obsession. But if you follow me on Twitter you’d probably know that already.

What places are important to you?

Cobble Hill in Brooklyn, where I spent some formative months as a teenager, is a very important place to me. Sydney’s Paddington is home, through and through. I feel an affinity to London that lots of girls who read a lot of British literature feel, that sense of knowing the city’s geography and feeling comfortable on its streets. I’d love to live there one day.

Do you have a supportive female network in your field? Was it always this way?

I don’t have any friends from school or university who are in my industry, and when I started working in publishing the friends I made were from different departments of the magazine world. But there is a rich and diverse online community that spans the globe that I am so lucky to feel tapped into: Women who support each other and are going through the same things that you are going through, albeit occasionally on the other side of the world. Twitter can be a teeming cesspool of the worst of humanity but it is also full of smart, engaging women doing incredible work in the writing field and engaging with them through social media is a real joy.


What do you want to be asked about that no one ever asks you?

I rarely ever get asked anything because I’m usually the one doing the interviewing. Being on the receiving end is nice for a change but I definitely prefer asking the questions than answering them.

How can we find our more about your work?

@hannahroserose on Twitter and Instagram

Who would you most like to answer these questions next?  

I would love to hear from Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton from The High Low Show podcast.