Interviews Lifestyle People

Getting to Know Danielle Norton, Travel Writer

Danielle traded a classroom for the ends of the earth when she decided to resign from her teaching job in 2017 and pursue freelance travel writing. A passionate home cook with a penchant for fine dining and five star hotels, Danielle has made a whole new career out of eating, living and escaping.

1. What would you be doing if you had chosen a different career?

This is my second career. I was a teacher of English, literature and literacy for 20 years before I became a freelance writer. I’ve always wanted to write novels, so maybe I’ll do that next.

2. How do you define success?

Having enough money to run the heater in winter, feed the kids, buy books to read and have relaxing tropical holidays with friends.

3. What is the most surprising thing about you?

That I let my dog sleep on my bed. I wasn’t a ‘dog person’ before we got him but he changed everything.

4. If your life was a movie what would it be?

Die Hard – I have a personal philosophy that allows me to accept life’s challenges and just keep on going. It’s worked so far.

5. What is your morning routine?

7:00am – Get the sleepy teenagers out of bed and hurry them out the door.

8:00am – School drop off.

8:30 – Fire up the computer in my home office and have a quiet coffee while I plan the day’s writing projects.

6. Do you have a nickname?

My true friends call me Dan (never Danni). 

7. What is your favorite meal to cook?

Anything that I can share with a huge table full of friends and kids. I love trying new recipes and feeding people. I do enjoy experimenting with Middle Eastern spices.

8. What is the last book that you read?

Amnesty by Aravind Adiga. It explores the plight of a Sri Lankan man who wants to report a crime but doesn’t want to jeopardise his own position as an illegal immigrant.

9. If you could only eat three dishes for the rest of your life what would they be?

This was a hard one for me. Spicy Moroccan vegetable soup, fruit salad and hot chips. The first two for health and the last one for pleasure.

10. Can you speak more than one language?

Yes, French.

11. Who is the one person that always makes you laugh?

My dog, Nashi. He’s a Maltese Shih Tzu and the funniest person I know.

12. What is the most played song on your playlist?

Can I decline this question? It’s probably ‘The Gambler’ by Kenny Rogers. I’m all about Podcasts now.

13. Where is one place you have always wanted to visit?

Morocco.

14. What plant or flowers do you always have in your home?

I grow herbs on my kitchen windowsill and buy lilies for the house. 

15. Your most memorable holiday?

As a child I visited Paris and it had a huge impact on my life; I’m a total Francophile.

16. How do you relax?

I’ve been doing yoga for over 20 years. I turn my phone off for the hour that I practice. It’s the only time of day that I’m not ‘switched on’.

17. How many hours a week do you usually work?

I try to work only during school hours so it’s about 30 hours a week.

18. What are the three beauty items always in your beauty cabinet?

A rich moisturiser for my face. Curl balm to tame my crazy hair. Chanel perfume – it’s always been my favourite.

19. Instagram, facebook, pinterest or twitter?

Instagram. 

20. What is the one thing we would always find in your fridge?

With three teenagers in the house, the fridge is always a work in progress. I try to keep it fully stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables. My kids eat well and often. My favourite treat is D’Affinois soft cheese so it’s usually hidden in there somewhere.

21. Your favourite board game?

Trivial Pursuit.

22. City, country, mountains or beach?

Mountains.

23. Who would play you in a movie based on your life?

Well, if the movie is Die Hard, I guess it would have to be a Bruce Willis. I do love Reece Witherspoon. Maybe her. 

24. What was your first job?

I worked in customer service at KFC.

25. What is your favourite app?

The Health app on my iPhone. I get a bit obsessed about counting my steps.

26. What is the most important piece of advice you have ever been given?

When I started my first job my father told me to save 20% of every paycheck. I wish I’d listened to him…

27. Rain, snow or sunshine?

Sunshine.

28. What is your favorite room in your house?

My office. It faces north with a view of the garden and it’s a bright space for crafting stories.

29. What is your go-to drink of choice?

Flat white or gin, depending on the time of day. 

30. Who has had the biggest impact on your life?

My children. I have three and they’ve taught me about the full range of emotions that exist for human beings. I’m more compassionate and more determined because of them. 

31. In which city do you feel most at home?

Melbourne.

32. Who is your style icon?

Ha! I had to Google Who are the famous style icons. I have to admit I don’t really follow fashion. I love a sequin or some embroidery on a shirt. Maybe Dolly Parton.

33. What’s your most treasured item of clothing?

I have a beaded Alannah Hill dress wrapped in tissue paper, waiting for the day my daughter can wear it.

34. If you could only be remembered for one thing what would it be?

Giving disadvantaged young people the chance for success in education. I believe that education is the most important gift you can give anyone.

35. What is the one thing you want everyone to know about you?

That I feel lucky every single day to have created this dream life. It’s not easy, but it’s worth the hard work.

About Danielle

Danielle is a freelance writer and copywriter based in Melbourne. Her work is published in dozens of Australian and international publications, both online and in print. Her cookbook, Cooking With a Broken Heart, is available through her website.

Follow Danielle on Instagram to see where she goes next @daniellestorywriter or contact her via her copywriting website.

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