Meet the Author: Tess McLennan

TESS’S TOP WRITING TIP: Always read your work aloud first before sending it away. It saves a lot of time later editing! And don’t be discouraged by rejection letters. JK Rowling was rejected by numerous publishers with her Harry Potter manuscript. Look where she is now.

Tess McLennanTess McLennan is a musician and instrumental music teacher who lives in a quaint country town south of Brisbane, Queensland. She is an avid reader and experienced traveller, and enjoys musical theatre and vintage artefacts. She has been writing since a young age, and Ghosts is her first novel.

Keep up to date with Tess’s writing life on Facebook.


Why do you write? Many reasons! Writing has always been like a therapy for me. I’ve written journals, stories and poetry since I was very young. I write when I’m happy, sad, overwhelmed, excited… Putting words on a page always de-clutters my overactive mind, and creating intricate characters and storylines has always been thrilling for me. You get to create a person exactly how you want, and decide what happens to them. It’s your own little world, and you’re in complete control of it.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I love musicals, and one day I would love to pursue a career onstage. Becoming a writer is just one of my many ambitions, so who knows… you might see me on Broadway next.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Finding a publisher who believed in my story.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? The creativity. There is absolutely no limit. It’s such a fantastic outlet for me.

—the worst? Sometimes I overthink my work way too much, and wonder if it’ll ever be good enough for an audience.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I wouldn’t rush. I would take more care with the presentation of my work before sending it away to potential publishers. The publishing houses are not going to disappear if you wait a few more weeks and continue to perfect your manuscript.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? Not everyone is going to love your work, and that’s okay! Also, a lot more goes into a publishing a book than just putting it on a shelf.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Finish what you start, never ever give up, and hard work will get you everywhere.


After the mysterious disappearance of her mother Marella, Imogene is left as the sole carer of Ghostsher younger sister, Clementine. Forced to give up her dreams of becoming a photographer, Imogene vows to support her sister’s ambitions of becoming a professional dancer, taking a menial job at Johnny’s Mega Market in the girls’ hometown of Miller Creek. Discontented and unfulfilled, Imogene meets Henry by chance, and his sister Aggie, the embodiment of everything Imogene wishes she could be. However, when Aggie goes missing unexpectedly, Imogene and Henry come across her journal, which sheds light on Aggie’s fragile state of mind in the months leading up to her disappearance. Imogene and Henry then embark on a perilous journey to find her, while beginning to uncover dark and frightening secrets hidden in the rugged outback, and also answers about what really happened to her mother on the day she disappeared.

Ghosts is available here.


Meet the Author: Cate Davis

CATE’S TOP WRITING TIP:Be yourself ‘cause everyone else is taken.’ -Edgar Alan Poe


Cate DavisCate Davis was born and bred on a sheep property in the New England District of New South Wales. When she was six, petrol rationing was introduced in Australia and there were no school buses, so to attend the closest primary school, she would have had to ride her pony six miles there and back each day. Although she was a competent rider, Cate’s parents thought this would be too much for her, so her mother home schooled her with the assistance of Blackfriars Correspondence School. Her mother also taught her to play the piano.

Cate boarded at a girls’ hostel during her high school years. After leaving school she travelled to Sydney and enrolled as a private student at the NSW State Conservatorium of music. She married and finally settled in Albury, where, with two small boys, she commenced tertiary studies externally. She gained three degrees in education and became a successful high school music teacher. She also co-founded the Border Music Camp which has now been functioning successfully for more than 40 years


Why do you write? Writing was a secondary career for me. I was a senior high school music teacher for 35 years, but when I developed tinnitus, having a ‘no note’ sounding in my head all the time robbed me of my confidence when tuning the orchestra. I had received complimentary comments about my writing style at university, so I started attending adult education classes in writing. In collaboration with my late husband Ian as illustrator, we produced the children’s book, Polly Platypus. Then when his aunt, who was the first migrant welfare officer to be appointed after World War II, failed to respond to persuasions to write her autobiography, I said I would write her biography and Great Granny B was accepted for publication. Then the discovery of my father’s war diaries from World War I whetted my appetite again and From Gallipoli to Coopers Creek was the result.

What would you do if you weren’t a writer? I would become more involved with handcraft – creative machine embroidery, tapestry, weaving etc.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Learning to read my own manuscripts objectively.

What is the best aspect of your writing life?  Seeing hard copies of my books.

 – the worst?  When writing biography, you sometimes have to write about something that is very sad. When writing From Gallipoli to Coopers Creek , I had to include a chapter about my father having to shoot his own horse. This was because quarantine laws made it impossible for them to bring their horses home. If he had not shot him, the horse would have been sold to an Arab, and they did not deal with their horses kindly. His horse, Barney, had served him safely throughout the war, even saving his life on one occasion. My father could not bear the thought of him being cruelly treated. I loved riding horses as a child, and could empathise with his feelings – I cried all the way through the writing of this.

What would you do if you started out as a writer now? Because I still consider myself to be a beginner in this field, I don’t think this question applies.

What do you wish you had been told before you set out to become a writer? How tortuous the path can be from being accepted for publication and being published.

What’s the best advice you were given? To write confidently about your own view of things. Don’t feel you have to kowtow to the opinions of others.


From Gallipoli to Coopers CreekFrom Gallipoli to Coopers Creek

by Cate Davis



This is the story of one soldier of the so-called Great War. He sailed from Australia at the end of 1914, a proud, even bombastic youth with the certainty that he would do his bit to save Mother England and by doing so, would set the world on the right path. He was totally ignorant of the real causes of this war and the place the different countries played in it.

When he landed at Gallipoli though and found the air permeated with the stench of hundreds of rotting bodies still lying where they had fallen a month earlier, he was confronted by the reality and horror of war. He records his first shot in his diary – it was far from the first time he had fired a gun, but it was the first time he had deliberately fired a shot with the intent of killing another human being.

The evacuation of Gallipoli, the inept defeat at Gaza and the realisation he had to become a completely different person to obey the orders he was given weighed heavily on his soul. Ghandi once said, ‘Man finds himself by losing himself’, and this is the story of how Lieutenant Bruce Campbell struggled to find himself and the difficulty he had in fitting back into a society where the civilians were still thinking in terms of pre-war society.

Returning home brought no joy either. Even things he expected to be familiar now seemed strange and no one at home had any idea what the war was really like. To make matters worse, his fiancée broke off their engagement.

This is a biographical story of his struggles to overcome all these adversities. He finally falls in love with a woman who has also been adversely affected by the war and has her own obstacles to overcome. Between them, they carve out a happy and meaningful life on the block of land Bruce has been granted under the Soldier Settlement Scheme. It is a heartwarming story about the legacy of war and the healing power of love.

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Meet the Author: Amanda Curtin

AMANDA’S TOP WRITING TIP: Be a reader as well as a writer, and read widely. Much of what we know about storytelling—structure, pace, characterisation—and about the way words are used and sentences are put together is absorbed almost unconsciously through reading. I think that’s why often when I used to read books about writing, books that break down and analyse the elements of prose, I would have aha! moments, where I’d realise that someone had just articulated something I instinctively knew. Reading also keeps you learning as a writer, keeps you humble, keeps you striving.

ElAmanda Curtin is the author of two novels, Elemental (2013) and The Sinkings (2008), and a short story collection, Inherited (2011), all published by UWA Publishing. She has also worked as a freelance book editor for most of her adult life, and occasionally lectures and presents master classes and workshops for writers. She has a PhD in Writing, is an Accredited Editor (AE) with the Institute of Professional Editors, and is an Adjunct Lecturer at Edith Cowan University.

She has been awarded writing residencies at OMI International Arts Center’s Ledig House in New York State; the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Ireland; Hawthornden International Retreat for Writers at Lasswade, Scotland; and the Tasmanian Writers Centre, Hobart. She has won the University of Canberra National Short Story Award, the Patricia Hackett Prize for best contribution to Westerly, the Katharine Susannah Prichard Short Fiction Award, and the Golden Key Honour Society Award for Excellence in Fiction (Asia-Pacific).

Amanda lives in an old house in an old suburb of Perth, Western Australia, and is currently working on a novella project. Visit her website at


Why do you write? It’s a great question, an intriguing one for any writer to ask themselves. I feel it’s what I’m meant to be doing, who I am at this point in my life. I don’t write because there are things I want to say but because there are things I want to explore, try to understand. It’s the grey areas I am interested in. That’s the short version! I wrote a longish post on this last year:

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I’ve been a freelance book editor for close to 30 years, and still work as an editor, though far less frequently. But if writing (and editing, and occasional teaching) didn’t occupy most of my time, I think I would study photography.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Lack of confidence. Three things helped me there. First, the encouragement of writers in my writing groups (initially, Annabel Smith, Donna Mazza, Danielle Wood, Carmel Macdonald Grahame; later, Robyn Mundy and Annabel Smith) and my academic supervisor, Richard Rossiter. Second, being fortunate enough to win a couple of awards. Third, being accepted into a PhD writing program.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? I feel privileged, and lucky, to be able to do what I’m doing generally. And even more so when my work takes me to other worlds—either literally, through travel, or virtually, through desktop research. Beyond that, it’s immensely rewarding when readers go out of their way to make contact to tell me what they loved and why, or that they were immersed in the world I created, or that it connected with something in their own lives.

—the worst? Self-doubt is always the dark to the light, and I suspect it’s the same in any area of the arts.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I don’t have an agent. Having now observed what a good agent can do—working with a publisher, helping with marketing and promotion, etc.—I might have persisted in searching for one willing to take me on. However, it has to be acknowledged that it can be as hard, if not harder, to find an agent than it is to find a publisher. And I’ve also observed that there seems little benefit in having an agent who is not wholly enthusiastic and active on your behalf.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? I didn’t realise how necessary, and how time-consuming, the marketing side would be. I’m not complaining, just acknowledging that I wasn’t prepared for it!

What’s the best advice you were ever given? A wonderful piece of advice that I try to put into practice is this: leave something unfinished at the end of a writing day, so that when you return to it you’re plunged immediately into the writing itself, rather than the thinking process that precedes it.


Elemental by Amanda Curtin

elemental_COVER v low resIt has taken a lifetime for me to see that the more afraid people are of the darkness, the further into it they will flee.

Nearing the end of her life, Meggie Tulloch takes up her pen to write a story for her granddaughter. It begins in the first years of the twentieth century, in a place where howling winds spin salt and sleet sucked up from icefloes. A place where lives are ruled by men, and men by the witchy sea. A place where the only thing lower than a girl in the order of things is a clever girl with accursed red hair. A place schooled in keeping secrets.

Moving from the north-east of Scotland to the Shetland Isles to Fremantle, Australia, Elemental is a novel about the life you make from the life you are given.

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