My lovely group who reads children’s books.
I am often asked questions about my writing career. Here is one I filled out earlier this year. Perhaps emerging authors can learn something from it, even if not to make all the mistakes I have made in the past,
When did you know that you were a writer? I only became serious about becoming a professional author when I was in my forties. But I was a very serious reader from the age of three. I believe this is what creates the writer, apart from imagination and perseverance.
When did you first read your writing aloud or give it to someone to read and what was their reaction? How did it impact on you?I had a cousin who was a famous writer and I gave him one of my short stories. He was totally scathing abut it without being helpful. I might have been totally put off except I decided to ignore him. But it’s wise to keep in mind how vulnerable inexperienced writers can be. The cousin’s attitude never changed, no matter how many of my books were published. He always pretended I was that novice.
What and when was your first acceptance? How did you feel? Tremendously excited. I was fortunate enough to be commissioned to write four ‘Dolly Fictions’ and because the instructions were very precise they taught me a lot about the craft. Back then there were no creative writing classes. I wrote those 4 novels under a pseudonym so when the first book under my own name ‘Mavis Road Medley’ appeared that was a great cause for celebration.
What is your favourite genre to write? Why? I’m a jack of all trades. I write in almost every genre (except horror, eroticism or film scripts) for both adults and kids of all ages. I like to float between genres, viewing each new take as a challenge.
How long have you been writing? And what have you written? I have written over 85 fictions and non fictions, many short stories, scripts and about a million articles. Just kidding! If anyone is interested most of longer works are on my website. These include 3 collections of short stories amounting to 30 stories condensed from longer work I wrote when the market was down and publishers taking very little. The secret is to be adaptable.
Of your own work – do you have a favourite? Why is it your favourite? The last thing I wrote. Then none of it because I never feel that anything is quite good enough.
What is your favourite genre to read? Why? I am a voracious reader. However, I tend to stick to literary work these days. I’m probably the last of a dying species. I belong to 2 bookclubs, an adult and a children’s and both meet monthly. That means 4 books every month, plus whatever others recommend. I have become lazy about finding hardcopy and read just about everything except picture story books on my kindle. It’s soooo easy to just download!
Do you mentor others? What do you do? I taught part time Creative Writing at Holmesglen TAFE for fourteen years. I have also over the years mentored young authors for the Australian Society of Authors and I run classes for adults in memoir writing.
Do you write full time? Most writers write full time even if they don’t sit at their computers. We constantly mull over possibilities and observe our surroundings for inspiration. Does that man on the tram look as if he takes good care of his kids? Does that bunch of schoolboys bully others? Using public transport is an excellent way of creating convincing characters. At my age I have become invisible. If age has its drawbacks it is also very useful for observing people’s idiosyncratic behaviour.
What are your other jobs? Boring housework. Is that still considered a job? My family are all grown and where my contemporaries are babysitting grandchildren, ours are either grown or live interstate.
Have you ever won an award/s or been shortlisted? What was it for? Yes. Please check my website for details. My awards in 2015 are for the verse novel ‘In Hades’ shortlisted for an Aurealis Award. And a 1st prize for the Rolfe Boldewood short story literary award.
Do you belong to any professional organisations? What are they and how do they help you? These days I only belong to ASA, SCBWI, Writer’s Victoria. They tell me what is going on, provide legal protection and have me knowing I belong to a fellowship. Writing can be a very lonely game.
Do you participate in writing workshops as a student? Which ones were memorable?No, I ran them. I had wonderful students. Some became well known and celebrated authors
Do you run writing workshops? What do you include? Yes I do run workshops on all aspects of writing for young readers. In particular, fictionalising history, writing science fiction and fantasy, writing mysteries and creating convincing characters. For adults I run writing memoir workshops that are extremely popular.
How might you be contacted in relation to running workshops or for school visits? I do this quite frequently and happy to be asked. I can be emailed on [email protected]
We all know that would be writers should read and write as much as possible – do you have any other advice? In one word: perseverance. Don’t let anyone or any situation put you off.