Meet the Author: James Lee

James’ top tip for aspiring authors: Writing isn’t a race, it’s a marathon.  Expect rejection. Have faith in yourself. Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance was rejected 121 times. Keep having faith.  Enjoy what I call “the thrill of the chase”.

James Lee is a publishing phenomenon and one of Australia’s bestselling but least known authors. After a successful career as an advertising creative director in Singapore where he won more than 500 awards, James turned to full-time writing for children in 1996. The 200+ books in his Mr Midnight and Mr Mystery series (first published by Angsana in Singapore) have been translated into ten languages and have sold in excess of three million copies.

The Singapore Straits Times once called him ‘Asia’s most popular children’s author’ and his success was recognised when he was awarded the inaugural 2013 Australian Arts in Asia Award for Literature. James returned permanently to Australia in 2010 and lives in Langwarrin, outside Melbourne.

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? I have no option.  I’ve been writing all my life.  At school.  TV scripts for Mavis Bramston, Don Lane, et al.  Radio serials.  Advertising.  Now books and poetry.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? Producing TV and radio documentaries.  I love history.  I’m curious.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published?  Time, firstly.  I couldn’t write while working full-time. So I took the biggest gamble of my life, “retired” at 55, when I could afford to buy a window of time.

And ignorance. I didn’t know how the publishing market worked. I thought it was simply a matter of writing and submitting. Wrong!  So I invested. I went to the Maui Writers Conference in Hawaii, bought sessions with agents and editors, and soon learned the “business” side of writing. That made me more focused, more pragmatic, and HUNGRIER!

How involved have you been in the development of your books? Do you have input into the cover/illustrations? When I first published books about advertising, I convinced my publisher that our target readers would not respond to traditional covers.  I hired (and paid for) the best art directors to design cutting edge covers, even the book formats.

With my kids’ fiction in Asia, I recommended an illustrator.  For years I’ve sent him rough cover sketches or detailed descriptions of what’s needed.  At xoum in Australia, their brilliant Roy Chen designs stand-out covers and illustrations.

I’m very fortunate.  All those years in advertising taught me the art of branding and positioning.  Each different series of books is a brand unto itself, appealing to specific consumers.  And, like Colgate and Unilever, I have several pseudonyms, so that each one can produce a different kind of product. (One name, producing different books over a variety of genres, would be confusing to target audiences.)

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? Freedom, and the thrill of making readers happy.

—the worst? Having NO freedom.  I work seven days a week.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? Learn the rules of the market.  Understand the business.  Format manuscripts properly.  Treat it very, very seriously.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? Writing is not driven by inspiration.  Inspiration is fickle.  You need to develop a work routine and state-of-mind that are sacrosanct.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? The winning formula: VOICE … STRUCTURE … INTRIGUING SYNOPSES.

What are the most significant changes you have seen in the publishing industry since your first book was published? The arrival of the e-book, and its recent “demise”.

The wonderful news that publishers and agents now accept m.s. and queries by email.

Do you consider it more difficult now for writers to become published? It’s always been difficult.  Once, Australian writers had to post their work to the UK or US.  Now we have our own vibrant publishing industry.  However, given all the various writing courses and seminars, more people are writing now than ever before.

BOOK BYTE

GHOSTWORKS
BOOK 7
James Lee
The seventh book in a spine-tingling new series for children aged eight to 12. Each Ghostworks book contains two chilling tales which will entrance young readers. Book 7 features:
Story 1: Ship of the Dead
When an old ship sails out of a storm at a Melbourne beach, Madison and her friends find themselves trapped on board in a world of terror.
Story 2: Ghost Islands
Pirate treasure, deadly swamps, vicious alligators, and a mysterious girl – Zachary’s American holiday turns into a nightmare on Jekyll Island.
Available from Amazon Kindle at
GHOSTWORKS
BOOK 8
James Lee

Story 1: Dead Men’s Gold

Blade is determined to find gold in a ghost town. Instead, he and his friends find their lives in grave danger – thanks to a murderous old miner.
Story 2: Our School Ghoul
How spooky is your school? When Suzie spots a ghoul on the roof, she knows her school is haunted. But hunting a ghoul was never meant to be easy …
Available from Amazon Kindle at

Romancing short fiction

Small traditional West Australian publisher Serenity Press is romancing short fiction with a series of anthologies, novellas and novelettes featuring love swept stories for romantics at heart. This week I chat with editorial director Monique Mulligan about the selection process for their newest anthology, A Bouquet of Love, and the challenges of producing a selection of 10 themed stories.

Photo: Neil Mulligan

ITOW: Authors were invited to submit short romances that featured Serendipity Bridal Boutique, its manager and staff. Why did you decide to link the stories in this way rather than following a more general romantic theme?

MM: Aside from liking the idea of linked stories, we wanted to challenge both authors and ourselves with something a little different. So, we brainstormed and came up with the idea of the bridal boutique, then its name (we both love the word serendipity) and from there I wrote a submission brief.

ITOW: What did you look for when making your selection of which stories to include?

MM: It was a combination of things – a great story with solid writing, plenty of romantic “feels”, a happy ending, and we wanted the links to the salon to be more than passing mentions.

ITOW: What was the most challenging aspect of producing this anthology?

MM: The editing – firstly, making sure each story shone in its own right (no, that wasn’t an intentional pun), but also making sure all the stories connected consistently. Was Kyle a fashion designer or stylist? Was the boutique manager Kate’s characterisation consistent?

ITOW: What did you enjoy most about working on this title?

MM: The enthusiasm and support of the authors has been fantastic. But also, seeing the stories come together as a whole in the final product – that was a special moment.

ITOW: Will there be another Bouquet of Love anthology featuring Serendipity Bridal Boutique?

MM: What a great idea! I definitely think we should keep it in mind.

ITOW: Individual stories from Serenity Press’s debut anthology, Rocky Romance, have been released as novelettes. Can we expect to see some of the stories from A Bouquet of Love also becoming available in this format?

MM: Yes, our plan is to release some of the stories as standalone novelettes in the year following its release.

ITOW: Is your focus on romantic fiction or do you publish other genres?

MM: We also publish children’s fiction for younger readers and middle grades. Next year we are venturing into new territory with a fairy tale collection aimed at young adults, and our intention is to build upon that niche.

ITOW: Serenity Press is a small independent boutique publisher. What is the advantage for authors of working with such a small press?

MM: Lots! We work closely with our authors and give each book special attention. We value authors’ input on covers and illustrations. And we have high standards for our finished products. Also, we offer higher royalties than bigger publishers.

ITOW: What’s your top tip for aspiring romance authors?

MM: That’s hard! Read a variety of romances – immerse yourself in the world of romance so you know what readers expect. If you hate reading romances, how can you write a romance that sends readers into a swoon, or wiping tears from their eyes, or just sighing with contentment?

A Bouquet of Love

Contributors: Claire Boston, Barbara Gurney, PL Harris, Ilona Krueger, Monique Mulligan, Glennys Marsdon, Teena Raffa, Bree Verity, Louisa West, Carolyn Wren.

 

Ten couples not looking for love find something unexpected when they visit Serendipity Bridal Boutique, Kate Peron’s vintage-styled salon. Love is in the air and it’s about to blow into their lives, bringing fortunate accidents of the heartfelt variety to those lucky enough to walk through Serendipity’s doors.

A man comes to Eagle Point to stop a wedding. A magazine editor finds herself in a cheesy situation. A different kind of bride takes to the catwalk. Readers will be swept away by this bouquet of stories from ten Australian authors – stories of healing and second chances, of opening hearts and minds, of souls connecting and remembering, of temptation and desire. Life and love in Eagle Point has never been more challenging … or fun!

From cupcake wielding assassins to hilarious blind date set-ups, there’s something for everyone in this delightfully romantic collection that proves there can never be too much ado about love.

Buy the paper back here.

Buy the e-book here.

 

 

 

Meet the Author: John Zubrzycki

John’s top tip for aspiring authors: It’s all about the pitch. So many publishers and agents have told me how poorly prepared most pitches are. Don’t skimp on this part of the process and be sure you can follow through and deliver.

Picture by Graham Crouch

John Zubrzycki’s latest book The Mysterious Mr Jacob: Diamond Merchant, Magician and Spy (Transit Lounge) tells the extraordinary story of one of the most enigmatic figures of the Raj. His first book The Last Nizam: An Indian Prince in the Australian Outback, on the misfortunes of the heir to India’s richest state, was a bestseller in Australia and India. For the past two years John has been researching the history of Indian stage magic as part of a doctoral thesis at the University of New South Wales, work that has involved trawling through archives, grimoires and ancient Sanskrit texts. In 2016 he took a troupe of Australian magicians to India and gave talks on a century and a half of conjuring links between the two countries. A former deputy foreign editor at The Australian newspaper, he has a degree in South Asian history and Hindi from the Australian National University and has worked in India as a foreign correspondent, diplomat, consultant and tour guide.

Find out more about John here.

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? I love a good story and communicating that to people, particularly if it’s a story that hasn’t been told before. To write biography and narrative non-fiction properly you need to get under the skin of your subject, that involves forensic research. There is nothing more satisfying than uncovering a chapter of a person’s life or an event in history that hasn’t been documented before.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I’d be traveling the back blocks of India, along the ancient Silk Road of Central Asia and exploring the great cities of Russia. But I don’t think anyone will pay me to do that. I would find it hard not to be writing about what I saw and the people I’d met.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? I guess I was pretty lucky because I had been a journalist for a couple of decades before I approached a publisher with the idea for my first book, so they could see that I had a track record. I also had one of those one in a lifetime opportunities to document something very unique—a story that spanned continents and epochs, yet was quite contemporary. That was the book The Last Nizam: An Indian Prince in the Australian Outback.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? The research, the interviews, the travel prior to sitting down and writing. And then the response from people if they like what I’ve written. Also touching people’s lives through the stories I’ve uncovered. And of course being invited to writers’ festivals

—the worst? The final lap of editing, cross checking references, re-reading the same material over and over again and being so sick of the process you think what you’ve written is terrible.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I wish I had started earlier in life. There are so many incredible stories out there waiting to be told, and I’ve got ideas for probably another half a dozen books, but it’s hard to make a living as a writer and it takes a lot out of you.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? Don’t be afraid to sell yourself hard in the marketplace.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? These days you don’t just need to be a good writer, you also need to present your work well in public. Maybe that’s not something that has been given to me as advice directly, but it’s something I’ve learnt from successful writers.

BOOK BYTE

It was a scandal that rocked the highest echelons of the British Raj.

In 1891, a notorious jeweller and curio dealer from Simla offered to sell the world’s largest brilliant-cut diamond to the fabulously wealthy Nizam of Hyderabad. If the audacious deal succeeded it would set the merchant up for life. But the transaction went horribly wrong. The Nizam accused him of fraud, triggering a sensational trial in the Calcutta High Court that made headlines around the world.

The dealer was Alexander Malcolm Jacob, a man of mysterious origins. After arriving penniless in Bombay in 1865, he became the most famous purveyor of precious stones in princely India, and a confidante of Viceroys and Maharajas. Jacob also excelled in the magical arts. He inspired all those who met him, including Rudyard Kipling who immortalised him as Lurgan Sahib, the ‘healer of sick pearls’, in his novel Kim.

Now for the first time, John Zubrzycki, author of The Last Nizam, conveys the page-turning colour, romance and adventure of Jacob’s astonishing life. Starting on the banks of the Tigris in modern-day Turkey where Jacob was born, Zubrzycki strips away the myths and legends. He follows Jacob’s journey from the slums of Bombay, to the fabulous court of the Nizam of Hyderabad, from the hedonistic heights of Simla, the summer capital of the Raj, to the Calcutta High Court. This is a story of India, of strange twists and unexpected outcomes.

Most importantly Zubrzycki enters into and truly captures the spirit of the mysterious Mr Jacob, one of the most enigmatic and charismatic figures of his time.

The book is available here.

 

 

 

Meet the Author: Jane Rawson

Jane’s top tip for aspiring authors: The best bit about being a writer is the writing. Don’t get too stressed about whether you’re being published, or being noticed, or any of that. Nothing is more fun than the writing itself.

Jane Rawson is the author of two novels – A wrong turn at the Office of Unmade Lists (2013 Transit Lounge), which won the Small Press Network’s 2014 ‘Most Underrated Book’ Award, and From the wreck (2017 Transit Lounge) – as well as a novella, Formaldehyde (2015 Seizure), which won the Seizure Viva La Novella Prize. She is the co-author of The handbook: surviving and living with climate change (2015 Transit Lounge), a practical, personal guide to life in a climate-changed Australia written with James Whitmore. Her short fiction has been published by Sleepers, Overland, Tincture, Seizure and Review of Australian Fiction. She works for the government and lives in Melbourne’s west.

For more information about Jane and her books, visit her website.

http://janebryonyrawson.wordpress.com

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? My head has always been full of stories – there’s a lot of pressure from inside my brain to get them written down. I enjoy being by myself, and I love being deeply immersed in a world I’ve invented – it’s an almost physical thrill when it’s going well. And I’m a huge reader, a lover of words, and I really enjoy all the chances I get to talk about books and writing thanks to being a writer.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? Most of what I do now is not writing (or at least, not my own writing) – I have a full-time office job as a communications adviser, I spend a lot of time just hanging out with my husband, I play the clarinet, I read a great deal. But if I stopped shutting myself away in a room to write and had more spare time, I’d like to think I’d devote it to environmental activism.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? My writing! My stories are unconventional and the ways I tell them are a little experimental. They’re not easy to classify or explain and it took a while to find a publisher who thought that was a strength rather than a deal-breaker.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? Creating something entirely new out of nothing but my own brain – it really works only rarely, but when it does it’s one of the best feelings in the world.

—the worst? Feeling jealous of other writers, and feeling bad about feeling jealous.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I’m pretty happy with the way my writing is developing and the results I’m getting. Perhaps the only thing I’d change would be having studied something at uni that would mean I could work short hours for loads of cash, so I’d have more time to write. Programming, maybe?

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? There are a lot of weird, bad feelings tied up with being a writer once you get published (as well as the good ones you expect). Be prepared.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Don’t be so harsh on your first draft – you don’t expect a little baby to be a concert pianist, why do you expect your first draft to be a great novel? Just get on with the writing and forget about the criticising.

BOOK BYTE

From the Wreck tells the remarkable story of George Hills, who survived the sinking of the steamship Admella off the South Australian coast in 1859. Haunted by his memories and the disappearance of a fellow survivor, George’s fractured life is intertwined with that of a woman from another dimension, seeking refuge on Earth. This is a novel imbued with beauty and feeling, filled both with existential loneliness and a deep awareness that all life is interdependent.

‘It’s hard to find the right words to praise this novel. I think we need a whole new critical vocabulary to be invented. Rawson recreates a vanished historical world with utterly convincing characters as well as inhabits the mind of a cephalopod alien and make us feel, in both cases, yes, that’s exactly how it is. Jane Rawson’s writing is mysterious, chilling and tender. The book is a sort of miracle.’    Lian Hearn

‘Rawson’s clear, lyrical prose—with its deep undercurrent of empathy—creates a breathtaking and revelatory reading experience. From The Wreck borrows from science-fiction, history and magical realism, forming a whole that is utterly unique and distinctly Australian. This is a masterpiece.’ Bookseller & Publisher

The book is available here.

 

 

 

 

Meet the Author: Ouyang Yu

OUYANG’S TOP WRITING TIP: If you really love writing, persist in it. Do it differently, always differently. If you like going against the grain, ignore this.

Ouyang Yu, now based in Melbourne, came to Australia in mid-April 1991 and, by late February 2017 has published 85 books of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, literary translation and literary criticism in English and Chinese. He also edits Australia’s only Chinese literary journal, Otherland.

Ouyang’s poetry has been included in the Best Australian poetry collections for 11 times from 2004 to 2016, including his poetry translations from the Chinese in 2012 and 2013, and has been included in such major Australian collections as The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry (2009), The Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature (2010), The turnrow Anthology of Contemporary Australian Poetry (2014) and Contemporary Australian Poetry (2016).

He has to date published five English novels, The Eastern Slope Chronicle (2002), The English Class (2010), Loose: A Wild History (2011), Diary of a Naked Official (2014) and Billy Sing (2017), and three Chinese novels, The Angry Wu Zili (1999 and 2016), Land of Gold-diggers (2014) and A Lonely Night Boat (2016 in Taiwan).

He was nominated one of the Top 100 Most Influential Melbournians for 2011 as well as the Top 10 most influential writers of Chinese origin in the Chinese diaspora.

He is now the ‘Siyuan Scholar’ and professor of English at Shanghai University of International Business and Economics, China (since 2012).

In 2016, he won an Australia Council grant for writing a book of bilingual poetry and a special award from the Australia-China Council for ‘his contributions to Australian Studies in China through major translations and original works of scholarship’.

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? I never ask such questions. When I first started, some 30 years ago, at about 25, I just wanted to be a writer and I expressed my doubts about the possibility in my writing. Now if you ask me, I guess I’ll simply say that writing is part of my life, just like eating, shitting and breathing. How can you imagine not doing any of those for a single day?

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? Then I’d be a non-writer, meaning a reader. But that’s half-writer already.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? I have a personal motto: Write till it’s unpublishable. Why? Because I want to explore all sorts of ways of writing, not just simply telling a story that sells. As I come from a migrant and Asian, meaning mainland Chinese, background, I defy the assumption that people like me can only write memoirs, autobiographies or things about their families. In China, I’m known as a xianfeng shiren (avant-garde poet) or xianfeng zuojia (avant-garde writer), and I’m valued for that. In Australia, however, I’m not recognised for that and I’m rejected for that because my writings are deemed unmarketable. Perhaps I have to write a memoir telling of my miserable stories living under Communism in order to get published. Perhaps they’ll have to wait till I die.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? I don’t know what you mean by ‘the best aspect’. Writing is an act of dying. That’s all.

—the worst? I’ve got more stuff that’s not accepted for publication than what’s already published, 85 titles in both English and Chinese languages, in total. The Australian rejection and the Chinese rejection are matched in their intensity and in their fears.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? This question is grammatically incorrect. I gather you mean ‘Would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer?’ I can’t imagine that, so I can’t answer this question.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? I wish I had been told that market was the real goal you should aim at. But, then, as a poet, I’d certainly go against it; as a poet, I go against the grain, grain of any sorts. You give me any advice, I’d ignore it. I’ll find my own ways. Let me fail, please.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? If you think success is the only thing you want, well, what can I say? Writing is failure, in the end.

BOOK BYTE

 
Billy Sing

A novel by Ouyang Yu

Transit Lounge Publishing

William ‘Billy’ Sing was born in 1886 to an English mother and Chinese father. He and his two sisters were brought up in Clermont and Proserpine, in rural Queensland. He was one of the first to enlist in 1914 and at Gallipoli became famous for his shooting prowess.

In his new novel, Billy Sing, Ouyang Yu embodies Sing’s voice  in a magically descriptive prose that captures both the Australian landscape and vernacular. In writing about Sing’s triumphant yet conflicted life, and the horrors of war, Yu captures with  imaginative power what it might mean to be both an outsider and a hero in one’s own country. The telling  is poetic and realist, the author’s understanding of  being a Chinese-Australian sensitively informs the narrative.

The book is available here.

 

 

Meet the Author: Hazel Barker

Hazel’s top tip for aspiring authors: My top tip is to avoid the mistakes I made. Don’t be in a hurry to send in your work to a publisher. Revise, revise and revise again and again.

hazel-barkerHazel Barker lives in Brisbane with her husband Colin. She taught in Perth, Canberra and Brisbane for over a quarter of a century and now devotes her time to reading, writing and bushwalking. From her early years, her passion for books drew her to authors like Walter Scott and Charles Dickens. Her love for historical novels sprang from Scott, and the love of literary novels, from Dickens. Many of her short stories and book reviews have been published in magazines and anthologies.

Hazel’s debut novel Chocolate Soldier, was released by Rhiza Press in September 2016. Book One of her memoirs Heaven Tempers the Wind, was released by Armour Books in August this year. Both books are set during World War Two – the former in England and the Far East, the latter in Burma.

Visit Hazel’s website here.

AUTHOR INSIGHT

 Why do you write? I write because it gives me pleasure and satisfaction. It’s not what I earn or don’t earn. It’s like going on a journey.

 What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I’ve retired now. If I was still working, I’d be teaching, as I am a teacher, but now that I’ve retired, if I wasn’t writing, I’d be immersed in orchids and helping my husband with his hobby.

 What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? My toughest obstacle was impatience – sending my manuscripts to publishers before they were polished to perfection.

 How involved have you been in the development of your book? Did you have input into the cover/illustrations? Last year I had two books published. My first book was a memoir Heaven Tempers the Wind. Story of a War Child. My publisher was Armour Books. A month later, Rhiza Press published my debut novel, Chocolate Soldier. The Story of a Conchie. Both publishers asked me what I had in mind for the covers. As my memoir was set in Burma, during World War Two, I wanted a setting with pagodas in the background and planes flying overhead.

My novel, Chocolate Soldier was not what I’d asked for, but my publisher sent me several covers to choose from, and I selected the one I liked.

 What’s the best aspect of your writing life? The best aspect of my writing life is the joy of writing and getting my work published. I’ve made so many friends within my writing groups and met so many wonderful people since I commenced my writing career. I guess that makes three. But it was difficult to stop …

 —the worst? The worst is the lack of time – having to sacrifice being with my husband or participating in other pleasures together.

 What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I would join a writing group ASAP, instead of struggling on my own, and hold back from sending in my work too soon to publishers.

 What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? I wish I’d been told that writing styles have changed over the years and that I should not take my favourite classical authors as my model.

 What’s the best advice you were ever given? The best ever given to me was by Jean Briggs, who used to help so many aspiring authors. She told me not to write in the passive voice. She also said I had a good academic style of writing suitable for a thesis, but not for a novel.

BOOK BYTES

chocolatesoldieresChocolate Soldier: The Story of a Conchie

London. 1940.

When World War II breaks out and men over eighteen are conscripted, Clarence Dover, a conscientious objector, refuses to go rather than compromise his principles.  Instead he joins the Friend’s Ambulance Unit.  From the London Blitz to the far reaches of Asia the war tests Clarence in the crucible of suffering.  In the end, will he be able to hold his head up as proudly as the rest and say, to save lives I risked my own?

One man will stand as God’s soldier, not the war’s soldier.

heaventempersthewindHeaven Tempers the Wind

Story of a War Child

Hazel’s idyllic childhood is torn apart by the bombing of Rangoon. The Japanese armies overrun Burma, forcing the family to move from one refuge to another. Hazel’s father, a Muslim, and her mother, a Catholic, fears for her children. Told through a child’s eyes, this story tells of a family’s travails during the darkest days of enemy occupation.

The book is available from Armour Books.

 

Meet the Author: Lynne Stringer

Lynne’s top tip for aspiring authors: Make sure you get all your books professionally edited and take your editor’s comments seriously.

lynne1-editedLynne Stringer has been passionate about writing all her life, beginning with short stories in her primary school days. She began writing professionally as a journalist and was the editor of a small newspaper (later magazine) for seven years, before turning her hand to screenplay writing and novels.

Lynne is the author of the Verindon trilogy, a young adult science fiction romance series released in 2013. Her latest novel, released in October 2016, is Once Confronted, a contemporary drama.

Find out more by visiting Lynne’s website.

She is also on Facebook and Twitter and has an Amazon author page.

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? I write because the ideas in my head knock on the inside of my skull, demanding release. There is no peace for me until they’re out.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I would be a professional editor, which is actually my day job. It’s nice that I get to help other people make their books better.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Overcoming the thought that anything I wrote would be terrible just because I wrote it. When I first got a contract to have my debut novel published, my default reply if anybody asked me about my book was to say, ‘Yes, I’ve written a book but you probably wouldn’t like it.’ I had to get out of that habit pretty quickly, let me tell you! However, it took a while for me to realise that my stories were worth something and deserved to be printed and read.

How involved have you been in the development of your book? Did you have input into the cover/illustrations? I’m fortunate that my traditional publisher—Wombat Books/Rhiza Press—allowed me to have a significant level of involvement. My publisher asked my opinion and took my ideas seriously, resulting in what I feel are the best covers for my books.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? When someone contacts me to ask me for more information about one of my characters, you know, that background stuff that doesn’t make it into the book but that people can obsess about if they love the people I have created. Nothing beats the joy I feel satisfying that desire for them.

—the worst? Having to go and ask for signings in bookstores or anywhere where I know it’s likely I’ll get a knockback. Also, seeing the places where unknown authors can place their books diminishing as small, independent bookstores close down and the big boys, who won’t play with unknown authors, getting all the sales.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I would have tried to learn a lot more prior to putting pen to paper … or fingers to keyboard! While I learn best on the job, I think I could have been a bit more prepared beforehand. But then, as I said, I tend to learn best that way.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? That it would be hard and that it would probably take years and at least six books before I got anywhere and even then, getting ‘somewhere’ wouldn’t mean it got any easier.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Make sure you get all your books professionally edited and take your editor’s comments seriously. You don’t have to accept them all but don’t just disregard them because they’ve requested changes. That’s their job.

BOOK BYTES

theheir_cover-silver-award-500x750The Heir, the first book in the Verindon Trilogy

Sarah hates the prestigious high school she attends. Most of the other students ignore her. School is only made tolerable by the presence of Dan Bradfield, the boy she adores. Dan is the heir to his father’s multinational computer company, but he is dating Sarah’s best friend, Jillian.

When tragedy strikes, Dan is the one who is there for Sarah, but she can’t shake the feeling there is something strange about him. Is he protecting her from something? Is there something going on that she doesn’t know about?

And did she really see a monster in the bushes?

Sarah is desperate to uncover the truth, but it could take her to another galaxy, and change everything she believes about who she is. Will it bring Dan and Sarah closer together or tear them apart?

The Heir is available on Amazon.

onceconfrontedhigh500x770Once Confronted

After a normal day turns disastrous, Madison Craig tries to put her life back together. She’s jumping at shadows and finds even familiar places terrifying. Can she forgive the men who hurt her?

Her friend Evan Mansfield sees no need to do anything but hate their assailants. He struggles with bitterness, but Maddy wants to move on. But what will she do when one of the men asks for forgiveness? Is it the only way forward for her?

Once Confronted is available on Amazon