DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO BE A WRITER? HOW DID YOU BECOME ONE?
Let's get this straight, you don't flick a switch and 'become' a writer. (Or maybe some people do?) But since I was a wee child I always loved stories. Most of my early ones were about ponies. Or netball. Or netball and ponies. I read anything I could get my hands on, including Thorn Birds and To Kill a Mockingbird under the covers when I was way too young (sorry Mum!). I loved a great yarn. Still do.
I studied English Literature at uni and figured that I HAD to work with books. For my first interview as an editorial assistant, the very clever Clare Coney leaned in close over a second glass of Chardonnay and checked that I really wanted to be an editor and not a writer. I lied (a little bit). So I became a non-fiction editor, then publishing manager and worked on some incredible titles by some of the best minds of our generation. It's a dream gig for anyone who loves working with words, photos and illustrations. I do love the production process.
But when I had kids, I started yearning for a treechange. So I moved from the city to a small country town and started freelance journalism. Mostly profiles, food, travel and features. This taught me about writing place, how to get to the essence of a person and gave me the opportunity to try lots of voices. It was like trying on different hats and I loved it. I wrote a lot of words, and fast. Freelancing is the perfect training ground for an aspiring author.
When I felt I was ready, I tried my hand at a little fiction. The rest is lots of hours at the desk ....
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP WRITING TIPS?
1. Finish the damn book! 'Can't edit nothing' has become my mantra. You don't know if it is a book, or what the problems are until you've really wrestled with it to the end. You also don't know how to solve the problems until you see how you do it.
2. Get yourself some good readers and mentors. Be tough, don't ask Jan down the street who always says nice things. You need people who will be straight with you.
3. Do your research. It will give you something to cling to when there's nothing else!
4. Read widely. Study how better writers perfect their craft.
5. Finish the damn book!