Getting to Know Rebekah Campbell

Tech entrepreneur, Victoria University of Wellington Alumni and author Rebekah Campbell visited us recently in order to sign copies of her brilliantly funny debut 138 Dates.

Rebekah's book takes us on a journey of modern dating and magically mixes her search for love with her experiences in business. You'll laugh (a lot) and likely cry when reading the book.

We chatted to Rebekah about daily doses of Vic Books' sourdough toast and green tea fuelling the last 20,000 words of her book and her advice to any single person looking for love. 

 

What is your day job?

My previous day job was tech entrepreneur. I founded two app based businesses in Australia called Posse and Hey You. I’ve spent the majority of the past 18 months writing and editing this book.  I loved it so much that I’ve started working on a couple of ideas for the next book.

 

What is your connection to Vic Books?

I attended Victoria University where I studied a Politics and English Literature Degree, graduating in 2000. I used to hang about the library a lot back then. I moved back to Wellington from Sydney in September last year and at that stage I was half way through my second draft of the book (minus the last 20,000 words). I came back to Victoria to write the final part of my book in the library looking out the window to the beautiful view of Wellington city. I came into Vic Books every morning to order a cup of green tea and some sour dough toast and browsed the books while I waited. I actually was on the phone to my publisher going through all the book covers in Vic Books and telling her which ones I liked so she could brief the cover designer for my book. 

 

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on two ideas for new books but I haven’t decided which one to focus on yet. Hopefully will make a decision in the next month or so.

 

What is your latest publication?

138 Dates

 

We love the title 138 Dates – the idea of that many dates seems so daunting that it translates as a tale of miraculous perseverance. What is it about you, or the qualities you possess, that meant you could keep trying?  

Three things.

  1. I’ve started a few businesses in the past and I know that perseverance always pays off (at least that’s been my experience). If I work really hard and never give up then I’ll get there in the end.
  2. I’m naturally an optimistic person. I always believed that there was a great guy out there and that I could make him very happy. I just had to find him!
  3. I imagined myself as a 90 year old woman looking back on my life. I wanted to be able to say to that woman that I gave it everything I could. Finding love was so important to me – much more important than any work aspirations. I knew I had to give it everything.
     

You credit Canva’s Melanie Perkins, for giving you advice that you applied to building the business and to finding a personal relationship. What are the main ways in which businesses and personal relationships are the same?

Her advice was around becoming clear on who I was and what I stood for and speaking from the heart, not from the head. In my tech business I had to raise capital from investors. Mel showed me how to inspire people (she is incredible at that). I also think that business partnerships and romantic relationships are very similar. So many business partnerships break up and it’s because one person is always looking at the other and wishing they were a bit different. Thinking maybe if they found a different partner that they’d be better. The thing is that there’s something annoying about everyone! When you pick someone as a business partner or a romantic partner then you should put your energy into making it work – not into questioning if they’re the right person or not. Of course there are limits – but I think this is a good place to start.

 

It seems to me to be very brave to share your dating stories, were there any moments when you thought “oh, gosh, I cannot share that” and did all those moments make it into the book? Can you share one with us?

What I started writing the book I thought that it would be embarrassing to write that I didn’t date for ten years. Then when I got into the grit of writing some of the scenes I realised ‘oh god, I’m going to have to write that!’  Early on in the writing process I tried to write around some of the really embarrassing moments but it didn’t work. The only way the book would resonate with people was if I was honest. 100%. So I dug deep and tried to share every flawed thought and humiliating experience as it happened.

 

If you could give single people who wanted to find love just one piece of advice, what would it be?

Stay optimistic. You’ve got to believe that someone great is out there and you’ve just got to find them. Do work on yourself – you’ve got to become the right person as much as find the right person. And read the book!

 

Some quick fire book recommendations please! (so we can link them for sale)

The books that influenced me most when I wrote this book were:

  • Eleanor Oliphant & The Rosie Project. I used a similar ‘unreliable narrator’ voice. And although my book is non-fiction, I’d say the style is most similar to these books.
  • Three Women – I loved how intimate her characters were, like I was inhabiting their brains. I tried to write my voice and thoughts with similar depth.
  • Where the Crawdads Sing – I know it’s not original! But I love the writing in this book and in particular the vulnerability of the lead character. It is unputdownable and I studied this book carefully when I wrote my own.

 

What are you reading at the moment?

Ha – At the moment I’m reading Liane Moriarty, Nine Perfect Strangers. Not very literary I know but it is a great story.

 

What do you like about it?

It’s fun!
 

Which literary character do you most identify with? Why?

Hmm I can’t say I identify with anyone in particular. I really like Lydia from American Dirt because she’s such a fighter and she’d do anything for her child. She also tries to see the good in people which can be dangerous sometimes but I’m very much like that too.  Optimistic!
 

Hardback or paperback?

Paperback. Hardback is too heavy to carry. But I do like Hardback for gifts.

 

Favourite coffee?

Green tea!

Rebekah Campbell signing copies of her debut book 138 Dates at Vic Books Kelburn