DIANNE’S TOP WRITING TIP: Wait before sending a manuscript. Publishers are busy; you may have only one shot at their attention. Rewrite, edit and rewrite until you are so sick of the manuscript that you want to scream. By then it might be getting close.
Dianne Wolfer is the author of 14 books for teenagers and younger readers. Her books have been short-listed for various awards and are read in schools across Australia and overseas. She enjoys combining her love of history with writing fiction. Her picture book, Photographs in the Mud (a recommended History Curriculum text) was inspired by a research trip along the Kokoda Trail. It has been published in Japanese and is used as a reference for international workshops promoting peaceful ‘discourse analysis’. Dianne loves travelling and has spent much of her life overseas. She lives on the south coast of WA.
For information about Dianne and her books, visit her websites
Why do you write? It’s something I can’t not do. I keep getting ideas and thinking about how I could explore certain issues via various characters. I have notes all around the place. Each book takes years and so I only write a fraction of what is going on in my head.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I loved working part-time in a bookshop, until it closed, but I also have a teaching background. At the moment I’m doing full-time study; I’m fortunate to have a scholarship from UWA, so between that, school visits and other writing, there’s no time for anything else.
What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Exactly that, getting published! There are so many talented writers not yet published. Perseverance is very important, editing and editing (even though it’s so hard sometimes) and just continuing to sit for hours writing and editing even when you don’t know where something is going. I write dreadful early drafts but refine them again and again, dozens (if not hundreds) of times, even for a 350-word picture book, until what I am trying to say begins to emerge. I wish it didn’t take so long, but for me, it does.
What’s the best aspect of your writing life? Working at all hours of the day/night in daggy clothes, and taking the dog to the beach when others have to be in an office. I also enjoy travelling and going into new communities as part of my schools work.
—the worst? Rejection letters.
What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I started before the Internet and used to have to go to a library to research, so things have changed. I love being in the country and accessing information around the world. I think if I was starting I’d do what I did; join a writers group, work at manuscripts as best I can and then send off the darlings.
What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? Getting a book published is just the first step…
What’s the best advice you were ever given? Believe in your work. Only you can write your story.
A chapter book for newly independent readers. Illustrated by talented WA artist, Gabriel Evans.
Annie loves her pet snails. They have lots of adventures together. She even makes them a special home in an ice-cream container. She thinks they ll be very happy. But will they?