This week we interviewed the brilliant Natasha Desborough, former radio presenter on BBC 6 Music and Xfm and now the author of hilarious Young Adult novels ‘Weirdos vs. Quimboids’ and ‘Weirdos vs. Bumskulls’. Natasha is also the author of spoof parenting guide ‘The Parental Advisory Manual’. She lives in Croydon with her husband Jim, sons Oscar and Wilfie, cats Mavis and Derek and chocolate Labrador rescue dog Enid. Natasha is a self-confessed ‘nightmare in the kitchen’ and regularly disappoints her children by attempting to bake cakes.
You were a presenter on BBC Radio 6 music and XFM. What was life like behind the mic and would you ever go back into radio?
At Xfm I co-presented the breakfast show with a number of comedians who would make me laugh until I cried. I was young and hanging out with rock stars and celebrities and generally having the best time of my life. It certainly wasn’t my finest radio but by the time I’d moved on to BBC 6 Music, I’d learned a lot and developed my presenting skills so was able to produce some of my best shows. When I began my radio career I was full of ambition and determination but after my children were born, I surprised myself by wanting to be with them as much possible. My career took second place to my kids and I chose to fit work around them. Now of course we are totally skint and live in a tiny house BUT I wouldn’t change a thing. What can I say? I just like hanging out with my kids.
You’re the author of hilarious young adult novels ‘Weirdos vs. Quimboids’ and ‘Weirdos vs. Bumskulls’. Tell us a bit about these novels and why you decided to write for that particular age group?
I never intended to write for a particular age group, I just began to write. What came out just happened to fall neatly into the Young Adult genre. The ‘Weirdos’ books follow the hilarious and embarrassing journey of a group of teenage social outcasts as they attempt to climb the school social ladder. I remember being a teenager as if it was yesterday (it TOTALLY wasn’t yesterday. I’m ridiculously old), so I drew on a lot of my own real experiences. If you’d have told me at fifteen that the hideous moment when my knickers fell out of my trouser leg in front of a HOT boy at a party would be the inspiration behind a very funny scene in one of my own novels, I would have laughed in your face (although actually I probably would have just sulked. I didn’t smile much at that age!).
You’re also the author of popular spoof parenting guide ‘The Parental Advisory Manual’, what inspired you to write this book?
It was actually a listener of my BBC 6 Music weekend breakfast show who planted the seed in my mind. She was up early with her newborn baby and sent me an email saying she’d just had a filthy dream about Mr Tumble from CBeebies and felt really guilty. I thought it was hilarious so I read it out on-air and within minutes I’d had an influx of confessions from other parents who’d had inappropriate dreams about children’s TV presenters. Straight after that show I sat down and began to write The Parental Advisory Manual!
What top tips from The Parental Advisory Manual can you divulge to our readers?
The main thing The Parental Advisory Manual advises is to ignore all parental advice. Trust your own instincts and don’t be afraid to get it wrong.
What pearls of wisdom would you most like to pass on to your children?
Don’t be frightened of being your imperfectly perfect self.
What’s your favourite family recipe?
Are you asking this question to spite me, just because you know what a dreadful cook I am? Even my kids laugh at my efforts to bake cakes. My last attempt at a Victoria sponge ended up thinner than the diameter of a five pence piece. If however, I was asked to bake a giant Frisbee then I’d be up right up there with Mary Berry.
What’s the one baby product you couldn’t have lived without?
‘Calpol’ without a doubt.
What’s your idea of a perfect family weekend?
A couple of years ago Jim and I ran off down to Cornwall with the kids and got married without telling anyone. It was the most brilliant day of my life. So my perfect weekend would be in Cornwall, hanging out with my family (including Enid our chocolate Labrador) at Roskilly’s Farm in St Keverne where they make the best ice cream I’ve ever tried. I’d probably have the ‘cream tea’ flavour. Or the ‘orange mascarpone’. Then we’d go for a boat ride, go rock-pooling, have a crab sandwich, drop in at a local pub for a pint of Doombar and then a walk on a St Ives beach at sunset. Perfect.
What’s in the pipeline for you next?
Writing, writing, writing. I’m currently working alongside a TV production company on a couple of projects and I’ve also written a book aimed at younger kids which is currently with a few publishers right now. Watch this space….
How would you sum yourself up in one sentence?
A bit odd, with an over active imagination and cankles.