Leigh Sales, 37, the subject of Sunday Life magazine's most recent cover, is fast becoming the ultimate GWAS girl crush (though she's an atheist, an issue explored in her book On Doubt, her Anne of Green Gables fangirl status almost makes up for that). Helen Pitt's cover story was a treat: we learn that Brisbane girl Sales is a wedding singer (the gigs supported her through university) and an accomplished pianist who lives by her military-man father's maxim that "Planning and practice prevent piss-poor performance".
Books, she says, changed her life. This is her bookshelf, as seen at The Drum, which resides in the Sydney home she shares with her husband, Willis – whom she married aged 23 after meeting him at an Assemblies of God church – inspiring her popular Well- Readhead blog. Pitt writes:
Her love of reading dates to first grade, when she was bedridden with scarlet fever, measles and mumps. Her mother bought her a copy of Enid Blyton's The Enchanted Wood, which she still has today on that bookshelf, along with a host of titles ranging from fiction by Vikram Seth through to Keith Richards' biography. "If Mum was reading Master of the Game by Sidney Sheldon and I was 10 and if it caught my eye, I'd read it too," she says. "I was a very nerdy, bookish sort of child; I played the piano and wasn't very good at sport. Anne of Green Gables was an early fictional mentor.
Apart from Sales' Anne-like traits, Pitt notes she was turned down for a journalism cadetship at the Courier-Mail newspaper and instead went to Channel Nine as a researcher; her goal to become a US correspondent "forged early from the pages of Huckleberry Finn". During her time in America she won a Walkley Award for her reporting on Guantanamo Bay (she wrote a book on David Hicks). She also has a master's degree in international relations. And conducted the only Australian interview with Hillary Clinton as the presenter of Lateline.
Despite her accomplishments, she's anxious about taking over from Kerry O'Brien: "One of my attributes is warmth, so I don't want to not be warm, but I do want to be taken seriously... I have a lot of regard and respect for Kerry and what Kerry's done. But Kerry's gone now and it's time for me and Chris to do the show."
7:30 with Leigh Sales and Chris Uhlmann debuts tonight on the ABC at guess what time!
Girl With a Satchel