I was interviewed in February by Teresa Smith for the new Sunday Spotlight author A&Q on the Australian Women Writers Challenge page. A site responding to the question "Are male authors more likely to have their books reviewed in influential newspapers, magazines and literary journals than female authors?". Well, yes. Hence the site. Visit their page at australianwomenwriters.com/about-2/background-to-challenge/ for more details on who they are and how to join.
There were a few challenging questions I can tell you, like
Q: How has being Australian AND a woman impacted on your writing and/or writing career? or
Q: Have you ever had to deal with a situation where someone feels they recognise traits of themselves in one of your characters? or
Q: If you could sit down for an afternoon with an iconic person from history, who would you choose to spend that time with?
For the full interview and my (well considered) answers visit australianwomenwriters.com/2017/02/sunday-spotlight/
Thank you Australian Women Writers Challenge for the opportunity and for being the first of your Sunday Spotlight authors.
The Soldier's Woman is going on tour - a blog tour, on the 9th of February with the marvelously named Goddess Fish Promotions. I shall now learn what this means and attempt to sound intelligent should the call arise. This is the tour banner and I think I put it up in places, so I shall start here.
My Big Fat Book Launch is coming together, from somewhat more humble beginnings it seems to have grown on it's own. What fun! Looking forward to nibblies and a glass of something to toast Maximillian and Charlotte's story.
Now that I am some way into the second of my Bladewood Legacy books I am researching a whole new area of Napoleonic warfare - naval battles and navy life of the 1800s. Imagine my envy when I read a blog post from someone who happened to pick up a tatty notebook which happened to be a signals diary of a Captain of the line during that time period. They lived in England and had found it in a jumble market or some such. Sigh. Here on the other side of the globe such finds are rare and unaffordable even if you should find such an item. Anyway in a wonderful act of generosity she has scanned the pages for the viewing pleasure of her readers. Yay. So in a synchronous moment I was able to find some great background colour for my main character just when I needed it.
Character development is moving more slowly but the relationship between the two main characters is slowly finding it's feet. This week is full of distractions though, so even when I should be writing I am shamefully not in the moment. Never mind, even words which eventually find themselves orphaned from the book have done their magical work of inventing and populating the imagined world.
So here it is the final day, or so, of my sort-of writing retreat. So what have I achieved? Well, some words of course, and as an extra bonus, reassurance that I’ve got this. What I mean is, that the first book wasn’t a happy accident.
I’ve spent the last three or so years in the good company of Mr Google hunting down writing resources. I’ve read blogs, posts, articles, books and watched interviews and listened to authors talking about writing. I am now happy to put words on paper, or whatever. The words are in the right order, almost all perfectly spelled and make a pleasing story taken all together. I should be content, but I am not. I know that the words could be in a better order, make an even better story. So the story is not an end in itself but a process like breathing, where one breath follows another. One idea follows on the heels of the next.
But it is not a regular process for me. Yes, I write every day. Some days are filled with words. But they may not be part of any story. They are like this blog, droplets. The real story brews like the dark clouds outside of my window. Slowly rolling across the blue, rumbling with the promise of rain and tempest. That’s my writing process, the brewing storm.
It is day 3 of my cat-sitting house-minding writing retreat. So far I have picked cherries, outlined my book, worked out why my hero was where he was and am writing a lovely scene in a garden where in a moment my hero and heroine will share one of those small uncensored moments that offers a glimpsed vulnerability of the soul and ties the first binds of love.
There is something that readers and writers of romance seem to do well and that is get together to eat and drink. Regardless of whether your preference was tea, coffee or champagne it was all books and glam last Saturday at a high tea in Brisbane's Room with Roses. I was just fizzy happy to be sitting with Anna Campbell and then she gave us all book pack gifts. Haven't done much work since - who can let a stack of books with bronzed male magnificence sit on the bedside table without at least a peek in side the covers?
What I found interesting was that although our corner was supposedly the regency or historical group there was ready fraternization with the the contemporary and the steamy, even a little spot of champers with the tea and scones. As a reader I often wander from my genre and will pick up a book if it is a good read. I wonder if there is really any value in this genre classification and division aside from ease of shelving books. I've noticed that the e-book shelves are mighty flexible when it comes to categorizing a story. We certainly didn't turn up our noses up at any of the offerings on the day. Who wouldn't love a free book! Thanks ARRA for organizing such a lovely event and the authors for their time, Anna, Kylie Scott and Tina Clarke.
Just a scant few months ago I was just another aspiring writer, somewhat ahead having at least a finished manuscript. I did not yet have a respectable number of rejections and was therefore unprepared for the publishing offer which appeared, like a Djinn from a bottle. I approached the offer as cautiously as a bubble collector. Even now, having signed contacts and launched social media pages and re-read my words until I developed a Pavlovian distemper towards them, there is a feeling of unreality. My characters have moved on and are busy adventuring through the next phase of their lives and although I have attempted to keep up with their travels, there is this feeling of it all having happened to someone else. As if I had actually written the entire episode in a book about my own life.
Last night my most esteemed and excellent writers group listened to a lovely talk in our local library by Professor Peter Roennfeldt author of Madame Mallalieu, an accomplished and remarkable musician of early Queensland. We were bold enough to ask him if he would like to stay and chat with our group, as it was our usual meeting night. He told us that his own relationship with his book was one where although he felt like it was a child of his mind he did not have any desire to read it. I understood completely. As much as I have loved my characters I do not wish to read their tale again - it's a little like listening to Great Aunt Millicent's story number 26 about how she had an interesting experience on the train as a young girl travelling in central Bulgaria. The first few times it's charming and interesting, after about the tenth time you start to check your texts under the table.
Now all I have to do is wrestle the Facebook and Twitter button on here so they link through and this job will be done.
I wonder what Maximillian and Charlotte are up to?
We are all alone in our thoughts, perhaps except for those afflicted with telepathy or madness. Writing is very much a task for the confines of that inner space. But it is also a task that demands release into the wider spaces of the world once it is done. This is the most difficult aspect of being a writer. Taking those inner private workings and then releasing them into the daylight glare of the world. It is absolutely no wonder writing forums and articles lie thick with angst and self-reassurance. What normal person walks up to complete strangers and blurts out their inner most thoughts? And if we continue the analogy, this stranger then corrects our English and sends us away to rethink our words. We then back away and gratefully accept their advice, hopefully not too damaged by the encounter, to try again with another stranger.
In the wider world our endeavours are always assessed, commented upon, compared, and in the writing world this equates to book sales, competition wins, dollars in the bank or literary awards. And yet a writer may have few or none of these things and still be a writer. An artist must paint, a singer must sing, a teacher must teach and a writer must write. If you were a psychologist would you call this an obsession? I don’t know I’m not a psychologist. I can only write the question while I am pondering the processes of writing.
Maybe it is the difference between the person who likes a morning walk everyday and the person who is driven to compete in a marathon against the best. Neither of these people are doing it because a multinational company is going to give them money if they wear a specific graphic on their shirt. But the athlete may very well be able to make a career of running very fast exactly because they can run very fast, and they love to run very fast.
Back to writing.
Writing is about writing. Not about the business of writing. There is no business of writing without the words. So the words come first, always.
Listen to the voice in your head.
You should be writing.
Had a bit of rain as they say, well those that specialize in understatement. Someone from the Bureau of Meteorology might say it was a category 5 cyclone eventually developing into a tropical low. Suffice to say, a lot of water from the sky, resulting in a lot of water on the ground. As a result of this purifying deluge the air is brilliantly clear and although the temperature has returned to it's normally warm summerness, it feels clean. For other people this might spur them to plant small green things, or brown things which will become green things. For me it spurs a return to my keyboard. The words want to spring from my fingertips like the sprouting green things. There is a muse in the air and it is whispering her seductions.
This is a time when I store away the sensations and awareness of where I am for another day. I will now forever have the feel of clean warm breeze against my bare arms stored away in the filing system of my mind. The damp smell of earth and rotting leaves is there somewhere too. The soft white noise of the fan doggedly pushing a small breeze into my little writing corner. Magpies shouting warning cries over the clang and hydraulic roar of the waste removal truck. Little patches of silence filled only with the breezy paper rustle of shredded palm leaves. All this is now mine. Copied, stored, kept somewhere in my brain. So when my heroine needs to look outside her window I know exactly how the grass will smell and what sound the trees are making.
I never grow weary of stepping into a new world, most of the time I have no idea what I am going to find.
Tea-drinker, writer and editor. Ecologist, environmental scientist, futurist and student of irony.