Guest Post – On Writing Path to the Night Sea – Alicia Gilmore

Path to the Sea

Welcome Alicia Gilmore to my blog. I recently asked Alicia to talk about how she came to write her amazing novel Path to the Night Sea – here is what she shared with me.

 

On writing Path to the Night Sea

 

Path to the Night Sea started as a short story in a fiction class with Sue Woolfe. Sue had given the class a selection of photographs and objects to spark our creativity and give us a physical stimulus to write a short fragment. I remember a small glass perfume bottle and a photograph caught my attention. The photo featured a woman in profile, seated at a piano, her hands poised to strike the keys. There was a cat sitting on top of the piano, and I wondered if these were the two most important things in her life – music and her pet. I started to write about this woman who would sit and play, not looking out of the curtained window, but indoors with her cat. Her face in profile, her ‘good side’… The perfume bottle that perhaps had belonged to a woman who would never get old. A bottle that held scented memories… Ideas and elements came together and what is now a lot of Day One in the novel formed the original short story. Sue read the story, said I had written the start of a wonderful novel and she had to know what happened to Ellie. I realised so I wanted to know too.

The story became darker the more I delved into Ellie’s world. Seven days seemed the fitting structure for Ellie to be introduced to the reader and for her to seek her path, tying in with the religious dogma she’d heard from her Grandmother and Father. Listening to music by Nick Cave and Johnny Cash helped me establish the mood at times and gave me the impetus to embrace the flaws and the darkness within my characters, especially Arthur. When I was writing the first drafts, I was living near the beach and the waves, particularly during storms, formed a natural soundtrack. If I peered out from my desk, I could catch glimpses of the ocean. By the time editing was underway, I had moved to a house that backed onto the bush and had inherited a cat. Listening to the raucous native birds, possums scurrying up trees and across the roof at night, dealing with the odd snake and lizards, plus watching the cat, heightened those natural elements of the story.

I was concerned about and for my characters. I needed to ensure that Arthur in particular had moments, however fleeting, when he was ‘human’, and that Ellie, despite her circumstances, not be passive. Ellie had to find the courage to fight for herself or remain lost to the world forever.   I found myself going off in tangents in early drafts with minor characters and subplots but judicious readers and editing brought the focus back to Ellie and Arthur, and the confines of restricted world they inhabit.

I had thought of letting Ellie go one morning years ago when I woke up and heard the news about Elizabeth Fritzl kidnapped and abused by her father. In my drowsy state listening to the radio, the reality of her situation came crashing in and I wanted to put my humble writings aside. What was fictional pain in the face of such devastating reality? As the recent shocking events in California this week have shown – thirteen children being trapped and chained at home by their parents – a nondescript house on the street can hide the most unimaginable terrors. Path to the Night Sea is my way of using language to explore familial dysfunction, small town horror, and ultimately, hope.

Sea

 

Advertisements

Post Script: Writing The Dream – A Serenity Press Anthology

writing-the-dream

Writing the Dream

24 Authors One Dream 24 Inspiring Stories

A Serenity Press Anthology

Serenity Press

ISBN: 9780994633736

 

Description:

A collection of 25 stories written by talented authors. No two writers are the same, but they have one thing in common: they are storytellers at heart and their deepest desire is to be heard. Writing the Dream shares the stories of twenty-five Australian writers, from emerging to established authors. Some are traditionally published, while others have taken the self-publishing route. Some have faced rejection after rejection, while others have had a dream path.

 

But, while their writing journeys are different, all of them strive to create, entertain, inspire and inform. And all of them have unique and creative voices that deserve to be heard.

 

With contributors including Anna Jacobs, Juliet Marillier, Natasha Lester, Jenn J McLeod, and a host of other talented writers, the stories in Writing the Dream are set to strike an inspirational chord in every hopeful writer’s heart.

 

 

My View:

Australian authors share their personal stories of process, inspiration, writing experiences and publishing in a very personal and honest collection of short stories. So many of the names here are familiar to me; some are authors I have already had the pleasure of reading their work, or I may have seen them talk at a festival or “know” via social media, regardless of how I have “met” this diverse group of writers, it felt like these authors were reaching out and speaking directly to me – such an intimate and inspirational approach; I highly value the advice given so generously here.

 

If you aspire to write, or dabble, or dream or perhaps know someone who does then this little book will brighten their day and get the words flowing on the pages.

 

As a bonus you get an extra chapter free, twenty five individual stories and each author provides a set of tips at the end of their chapter. One of the best hints/tips I think is from Melinda Tognini:

“Just start.” (p.233, emphasis added)

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Post – Anthea Hodgson – Writing…and Life

the-drifter

Welcome Anthea to my blog. Anthea is a Western Australian writer who has just had her debut novel, The Drifter, published by Penguin Random House Australia. Anthea’s book is a most enjoyable read; it is an authentic, original story that gives voice to many contemporary issues in a complex yet enjoyable read… Themes of fractured families, death and atonement and survivor guilt are explored skilfully in this heart-warming coming-of-age drama.

anthea

Anthea has had what may seem a magical passage to publication.  A woman in a hurry, she wrote her first novel The Drifter in five weeks, and pitched it to Penguin Random House in five minutes. She was then signed to a two book deal. WOW!!! I can hear the gasps of appreciation (we all know how hard it is to score a publishing deal) and to have written this book in just five weeks? Amazing! I invite Anthea to tell us about her writing journey.

 

Anthea have you always yearned to be a writer?

Absolutely! I have always loved books and writing, but I learned early on that it was an impractical passion on which to base a career, so I shoved the urge deep down inside me and left it to fester in a nice way, while I worked in radio, organising and writing interviews. It was a fascinating job (with access to free books – yay!) but once I had children I found it hard to fit radio shifts in with my two small kids and a husband who worked away much of the time, so I felt as if it was time to finally give it a bash.

 

When did you first start writing?

As an adult, I started just before I wrote The Drifter. I haven’t ever studied writing because I hated the thought of anyone reading my work, and I think I’d be too confused by input from a writing group or formal course. I think I last wrote in year ten at school, although I had a kind of journal in my early twenties. The Drifter was the first time I sat down and plotted out a manuscript, although I did have a false start a year before with a manuscript that never really resolved itself. I think Drifter worked for me because I wrote it down scene by scene on little yellow cards and literally worked from the top of the pile to the bottom, in order.

 

What inspired The Drifter?

The Drifter was inspired initially by my love of the country and my home-town. I knew I wanted to write a rural romance, so the idea of a drifter coming to town seemed a good way to do it, because it allowed the protagonist and therefore the reader to discover how the community and the farm worked at the same time. Just before I wrote it my father died of Alzheimers disease in a nursing home in Perth after a long and horrible illness. There are a couple of themes that came from that time – the idea of what makes a good death, and a good life, and the idea that you never really lose the people you love – because you can take them with you. Dad’s death showed me that, and I take him with me everyday.

 

Five weeks to write a complete novel- seems like an incredible feat, how did you achieve this?

My number one rule for writing the Drifter – get out of bed! Writing the Drifter was a mad, joyful dash for me – I had always wanted to write, I had found my plot and my themes, and I couldn’t write it fast enough. The Drifter was a wonderful experience. It was the coming together of my love of the country, of writing, of the people I grew up with, of laughter, and of my dear dad. The Drifter came galloping out of me at three o’clock every morning, surrounded by the wonderful warm and quirky women of Yealering, the beautiful countryside, and the strength of their relationships and love. The romance between Cate and Henry was so much fun to write, but I think I wrote the manuscript quickly, thousands of words a day, because I already knew the characters so well and because I had something to say, about friendship and about death. My farm is described in the book, our old dog, the place we buried him, members of my family, friends – everyone got stuffed into the Drifter’s pages.

 

Getting the attention of a publisher – how did this happen?  

This was the hard part, and I think it is probably difficult for most writers. For two years I sent Drifter out into the void, with no response whatsoever. I sent it to all of the major publishers and never heard back, I entered it in a competition two years in a row, where it only had to be in the top 15 entries of 28 to get to the next round – it wasn’t. It sat in slush piles and it was rejected by agents. And so it would have gone on, unless the wonderful Romance Writers of Australia hadn’t come to my aid. They have a yearly conference with a valuable offer – the chance to pitch to a number of agents and publishers for five minutes! The year I pitched the conference was in Melbourne. I flew to Melbourne and stayed a few days. I was too freaked out to actually attend the event – I pretty much wandered about the city chanting my pitch to myself like a mad woman. And somehow it worked – I lined up outside a door, someone rang a little bell and I sat down in front of Ali Watts from Penguin and said, Hello, my name is Anthea Hodgson – and I’ve written a rural romance about death. This one small act of bravery resulted in a two-book deal with my dream publisher – I was so lucky Ali took a chance on me, with no training or track record, and with no online presence. It was both exhilarating an extremely humbling to be handed my dream. I never mind the early starts – they are a privilege!

 

Tell us a little bit about your next book and when we can expect to see it.

Well! Funnily enough I’m just finishing it off now. Penguin was silly/generous enough to offer me a couple of extra weeks, so I’m obsessing and tinkering about at 3am again, getting it ready to deliver. It will be out around August of 2017. This novel might be called The Cowgirl, or perhaps The Firebird, I’m not sure, but it follows the story of Deirdre, the wonderful old battle-axe who stole so many scenes in The Drifter. It is her story – how she came to be such a tough old nut, and is also the story of her granddaughter Teddy, who is trapped on the farm, milking the cow – just as her grandmother has always done. Or is she? What lies buried next to the old pepper trees – and could it change her life?

 

Where can readers connect with you?

I am hoping to do some library talks around Perth and some country areas early in the new year – check out my website and I’ll keep you posted!

My facebook is Anthea Hodgson Australian Author

Website is Antheahodgson.com

Twitter @AntheaHodgson

Insta Antheahodgson

As you can see – I like to keep it simple..!

 

Thanks you for sharing so generously with my readers and congratulations on writing a fantastic book!

Thanks so much! I’m so happy you enjoyed The Drifter – as you can tell – it’s very close to my heart!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Perfect Gift Suggestion – Flash Giveaway

I recently discovered THE perfect gift for the writer in your life (I have a few  writers to consider this year so this will tick off a few names on my Christmas List)

win-pilot-2017-a-diary-for-writers

Pilot 2017 is bursting with features! Stay motivated and productive with weekly advice, tips and book recommendations from more than fifty inspiring authors including Benjamin Law, Anna Funder and Inga Simpson. PLUS there’s 150 competitions, festivals and awards, a years’ worth of writing prompts and tons of industry info.

Find Pilot at pilotpress.com.au  on Facebook & Instagram

 

And the wonderful people at Pilot have generously offered me a copy to give away so you can share the love too. *Australian residents only.*  This is an easy giveaway – all you have to do is click through this link.

Pilot 2017: A Diary for Writers  and look at the contents page and tell me what useful item is on page 188.

 

**I will randomly select one winner on the 14th of December 2016.

 

***Congratulations Deborah – and thanks to all who entered. ***

 

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Olga Lorenzo

The Light on the Water

The Light On The Water

Olag Lorenzo

Allen & Unwin

RRP A$29.99

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Olga Lorenzo is the author of The Rooms in My Mother’s House, which was published in 1996 and shortlisted for various literary awards, including the IMPAC Prize. Olga has won the Felix Meyer Scholarship and the Percival Serle Bequest at the University of Melbourne for her writing, as well as grants from Arts Victoria and the Australia Council, and a Varuna Fellowship. She has taught writing for 17 years at RMIT University and various other tertiary institutions, and has a Masters and a PhD in creative writing from the University of Melbourne. She previously worked as a journalist and sub-editor for the Melbourne Age.

 

Welcome to my blog Olga. I very much enjoyed your latest release, it is so evocative at times I had difficulty reading.It certainly made me think.

Olga Lorenzo photo(c) Tania Jovanovic

Olga Lorenzo photo (c) Tania Jovanovic

10 Things You Didn’t Know About… Olga Lorenzo

Let’s talk early careers; teaching, journalism and other paths to the road of writer. How did you early careers influence your approach to writing?
I’ve found journalism and novel writing quite different; one is almost like filling out a form to me, in the sense that there is a known and recognizable structure, especially in the inverted pyramid that is a news story. Writing a novel sometimes feels like trying to find a path through seawater. There are very few markers.

 

Let’s talk writing. I know in 1996 you published the novel The Rooms in My Mother’s House, did you write other pieces before this or plunge straight into writing a full length novel?
I plunged into the novel; I had always wanted to write a novel.

 

 

I see that you have won the prestigious Felix Meyer Scholarship and the Percival Serle Bequest at the University of Melbourne, as well as grants from Arts Victoria and the Australia Council, and a Varuna Fellowship – scholarships and grants provide the author with other resources and assistance other than just (useful)$$$ – how did winning these award/grants assist you in your path to publishing?
I was extremely fortunate that when I applied for the Arts Council grant, I had to ask for a letter of support. I approached Hilary McPhee, whose son I had once babysat. Hilary was then head of Pan Macmillan, and she looked at my excerpt and offered to publish the novel when I finished it. I had only just started and that was very exciting and sustained me as I was writing.

 

 

What do you love about writing?
I don’t know that I love writing. I love having written. But Toni Morrison once said that the great thing about writing is that you can use all of your earned wisdom, everything you have learned about people and life, all your pain and all your joy can go into it. I do love that about the work I get to do. Only art allows for anything like that.

 

 

Let’s talk books and influences. Who is your favourite author?
That is so hard to say. I go through phases and of course I read as much as I can. As a child and young adult I read voraciously. I loved Hermann Hesse and John Steinbeck. More recently I have loved Elizabeth Strout. And Marilyn Robinson’s Housekeeping is a gorgeous book.

 

Do you have a favourite book?
No, but I think that Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge, while flawed, has moments of absolute brilliance. I love strong characters.

 

 

Let’s talk about the characters in your books – your novels are character driven narratives – how do you construct a character? Full formed before you begin writing? Influenced by people you know?
They are always fictional but yes, they are influenced by what I have experienced in life. I tell my students to write from life in the sense of using their own learned wisdom, as Toni Morrison says. And then fictionalising for all your worth.

 

 

Let’s talk about themes in your work. The social construct of family seems to feature heavily in your work. What other issues do you want your readers to consider in The Light on The Water?
Ideas about social inclusion and exclusion are huge to me, and I DO think it starts with family. Sometimes we are outsiders even in our own families, for instance, when we are not fully accepted by in-laws or step-children. Sometimes a parent doesn’t accept their child’s sexual orientation. All forms of being unaccepted and excluded are very painful, as we are social animals and don’t do well on our own. We need our clan, our herd. I was writing about this in The Light on the Water, and am returning to it in my next novel.

 

Who do you see as your prime audience?
I want as many people to read my books as possible. I aspire for them to be thoughtful and intelligent and well-written, but also accessible to a wide audience. I sometimes think of something like The Simpsons cartoons, which I think a wide variety of people respond to at different levels of meaning, depending on their ability to understand satire.

 

 

Lets’ talk next book? Are you currently writing a new novel? Where will it be set?
It is set in Melbourne’s bayside suburbs and also inner city Melbourne, and is about a single mother who brings home the wrong baby from the hospital. When she finds her true daughter, she begins a relationship with that child’s father, who is also single. But the daughter she didn’t take home from hospital has grown into a cold and haughty young woman, partly because she has been over-indulged by her father. As a result, she is unable to love or feel empathy and doesn’t accept my protagonist’s attempts to love her.

Keep in touch with Olga here:

F/b Olga Lorenzo – Author
Twitter Olga Lorenzo @olgalorenzo3

And I Know That You’ll Use Them However You Want To*

Margot makes some very astute points here

Confessions of a Mystery Novelist...

Prior Knowledge ReadersIn yesterday’s post, I mentioned that authors often tap their own experiences and prior knowledge as they create new stories. That’s only natural if, as the research suggests, knowledge comes from associating new things with what we already know. But what about readers? Readers come from a wide variety of different backgrounds and have a wide variety of experiences. So how does an author invite readers to tap their own life experiences to make meaning from what they’re reading, and thus connect with a book at a deeper level?

I think it’s important to start by saying that readers enjoy using their imaginations. Wise authors respect their readers, and give them credit for the ability to imagine things they may not have experienced. Just because a reader hasn’t, say, been to Canada’s Ellesmere Island doesn’t mean that he or she can’t fully enjoy M.J. McGrath’s Edie Kiglatuk novels, which…

View original post 1,023 more words

In Conversation With Fiona Palmer

Welcome to Fiona Palmer

fiona1

Welcome Fiona to my blog and thank you for taking time from your busy schedule of farming and writing and family responsibilities to participate in this discussion about all things reading and writing.

 

Carol: Can you tell me a little bit about how you got started on your writing career? Were you always interested in writing? How was the road to publication for you? Can you share some of your memorable experiences about the process? I know many writers – in – waiting will be eager to hear about your journey.

 

Fiona: Thanks for having me Carol, it’s my pleasure. I fell into writing. Being a student who couldn’t spell very well and was lucky to get a C in English, writing never entered my mind, yet I did get immense pleasure from writing stories in class. But my teacher was very literary focused. So fast forward a few years, a toddler, a baby and a full time job running the local shop and I start to write down this story that had been growing in my mind. It encompassed everything I loved about rural living, about our way of life and some of my dreams. I think it was also my escape from such a busy life of work and nappies. Three years later I had the finished product after I’d had help with the ASA (Australian Society of Authors ) mentorship I’d won also. I sent the first three chapters off to Penguin, and it found a publishers desk. She, Ali Watts, emailed requesting the rest and then a few months later I was offered a contract. Amazing. And Ali Watts was Rachael Treasures publisher at the time also and she works with many amazing authors who I aspire to. I had a whirlwind ride into publishing and haven’t looked back.

 

Carol: What does a typical day in your life look like?

 

Fiona: Get kids off to school, housework, sit down and write (if I’m not out on the farm driving a tractor) and then I stop when kids get home from school. Sometimes if I have edits, I’ll spend weekends and after school hours getting it done. But if I have no book work to do then I’m busy doing community work, volunteer work for various sporting clubs and then work out on the farm if they need me. 

Fiona Palmer and Ruby

Fiona and “Ruby” the tractor.

 

Carol: What inspires you to write?

 

Fiona: That is easy. It’s all around me. My home, the country, the rural lifestyle, the people. Our little town has a motto on its personalised number plates and it is: Pingaring, the place, the people. It pretty well sums it up for me. And when I go off to work at the farm I come home so inspired after spending time in the wide open paddocks, watching the kangaroos, birds, sheep or smelling the fresh turned dirt. It’s all around me. So many stories. I love sharing my passion with everyone through my books.

"The Farm"

“The Farm”

 

Carol: I loved your book The Sunnyvale Girls, the links to local history and the Italian POW’s interred in Western Australia made your narrative unique and engaging. Can you give us a little peak into what we can expect in your new book?

The Sunnyvale Girls

Fiona: I’m editing my new book now. The Saddler Boys. It’s based on a small town called Lake Biddy who may lose their Primary School. Our town lost it’s school in 1998 and it changes everything, effects the town. So that is one of the main threads, with a few other bits thrown in.

 

Carol: What’s in a name? Do you categorise your writing as Rural fiction or Romance?   Or a hybrid of the two?

 

Fiona: I like to call it rural fiction or rural romance, either one is fine. At least the readers know what they are going to get. I’m not embarrassed to say I write romance. It’s in a lot of books, even those that don’t class themselves under a ‘romance’ heading. 

 

Carol: You will presenting a session at the Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival (May 29-31 2015) A Season of Love – what can we expect to hear about in this session?

 

Fiona: I’ll be sharing my journey to publication and the story behind The Sunnyvale Girls, plus answering any questions people may have. I love questions, fire them at me.

 

Carol: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

 

Fiona: Just that I hope when you pick up one of my books you can feel the passion and love I have for the country and that I can take you on an emotional journey to escape to a new place for a while.

 

Carol: Thank you for taking part in my “In Conversation With” blog posts. I look forward to seeing you at the Margaret Rivers Readers and Writers Festival. I’ll bring my camera.  🙂