Writer’s Diary: 1

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(Apologies for the repost, I’m changing my theme and rearranging my blog.)

THE process an author goes through is detailed and individual. In Writer’s Diary I will dip in and note what it is that I do to create my current novel. The posts will be short and to the point, and, on the topic of writing, only. I hope it is useful to both you and me!

I’m currently working my way through a draft of ABSENCE. It’s something like the fifth or sixth draft. (when I think about it, it’s a lot more than that!) As I deleted approximately 50,000w in the last draft the MS was down to about 40k, but the essence of the story is now very clear and tight. So now I’m working my way through and expanding every idea in each chapter. I’m also working backward from C60 back to C1 so that I give every attention to the individual chapters rather than getting lost in the entire story. It’s now back up to just over 63k and I’m at C28.

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Jesus Sandals and Anchovette, by Joanna Atherfold Finn

 

 

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Delicate and sweet writing from the point-of-view of an eight-year-old child, but what is really great about this piece is that it’s written in second person. I haven’t read a second person story before this that isn’t in the form of letter or diary. (If you know of any, comment below I’d love to read it) In this instance it gives the reader a strong sense of being right with the character and somehow helps to put you in the mind of the child. There’s nothing bad to say about this; it’s gorgeous, a must read.

This story is from the Amanda Lohrey Selects series at Spineless Wonders Publishing.

There is so much information about the little girl (and the family) to be gleaned from these few opening sentences.

You look out the back window of the lime-green Galant to the curved struts of the rusting balcony, the top step where you grinned (gap-toothed) for your first-day-of-school photo, the pine tree with its dying centre. Behind the gate is your cubby house with foundations so deep it can’t be moved. Next door, Mr Carter is spraying his cumquat trees. You picture Mrs Carter inside sitting at the kitchen table doing her crossword, and Jesus hanging from his cross, observing her forlornly. She has told you he is all-knowing. You wonder why he doesn’t drop a hint now and then.

The sentences are dripping with descriptions of colour and images,

A row of blue-headed pins protruded from her pillowy lips. Her smooth forehead bobbed as you revolved in tiny increments.

and descriptions that can pull you back right there with the little girl. We know where they are even before it’s made clear.

He leads you through glass doors with his hand clamped around the back of your neck, past nicotine-yellow tables, over kaleidoscope carpet. A row of men are perched on stools, their thick arms bent across blue towels, their hairy legs dangling. Their hair is shrinking into their skulls. They are stunted and swollen like the puffer fish you poke with a stick on the beach.

 

 

Lychees or Peaches? with author, Adrian Deans: in which Adrian doesn’t tell us the meaning of life.

 

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1 Hard questions first, Adrian:

Lychees or Peaches?

Seeing as I’d rather suck petrol out of a hose before eating lychees, I guess it’s peaches.

 

2 If you were written about in a newspaper, what would the headline say?

Abbott’s Axe-murderer Receives Thanks of Nation

 

3 What is your favourite line from a book or movie?

Too many to choose from… Maybe: “Is sex dirty?” “Only if it’s done right.” (Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex); OR “Anyone who doublecross Tuco and leave him alive…does not understand Tuco.” (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) OR “Oh…and what’s so stinking about it?” (A Clockwork Orange)

 

4 What genre do you usually write in? And why do you think this is so?

 

I started out writing strange speculative fiction stories but accidentally morphed into an offbeat crime novelist. I certainly did not do this on purpose. My first stories were very ‘high concept’ and required a lot of work from the reader…they didn’t get published. I turned to writing screenplays and learned a huge amount about telling a story through dialogue and being very direct about getting from plot point to plot point. I also relaxed into my natural style – allowing some understated humour to enter the stories. Then when I tried again to write a novel, armed with my screenwriting skills and a very commercial story idea, the half-written draft (Mr Cleansheets) was accepted by the first publisher to whom I showed it. I found I enjoyed exploring the (slightly comic) dark side and seemed to have a talent for it. So I have increasingly focussed my writing in that direction.

 

5 Tell me a secret about yourself that nobody in the whole world knows? Go on tell me, nobody but me is listening.

 

I have discovered the meaning of life.

 

6 What is your latest book about?

 

My last book (Straight Jacket) was about a life sculptor – a lawyer who takes an interest in strangers and pulls strings in the shadows to change their lives as he thinks they deserve. At the same time the story is also being told from the perspective of a detective in charge of a serial killer investigation, but the detective can hardly focus on the case when his boss hates him, his deputy is trying to undermine him, and the woman he loves is having an affair. As it says on the back cover: In the cicada-throbbing heat of a Sydney summer, the threads of a strange story tangle together in a wild conclusion no-one will see coming.

 

7 How did you come up with the title? Did it come to fistycuffs with your editor?

 

Straight Jacket works on several levels. It is the name on the biker vests in the story; Morgen refers to his expensive suit as his ‘straight jacket’; Morgen’s greatest terror is to be regarded as bourgeois (which is a synonym for ‘straight’) and cicadas are an important transcendent theme. There is a cicada emerging from its shell on the cover. If I say any more I’ll spoil it, but no…there was no argument from the editor.

 

8 When you daydream about singing on The Voice (I know you do) which song do you sing and if you could have any celebrity judge in the world turn for you who would it be?

 

Well, I seriously don’t daydream about this…but if I did, I’d be singing Life on Mars and David Bowie would turn for me.

 

  9   What do you really, really, really, love?

 

Football, travel in Europe, great books and films, music, dinner parties with friends, excellent wine, any sort of writing success (especially good reviews) and my wife Kazzie.

 

 10 Can you show us a quick snap of your work desk? No tidy spic and span ones please. I won’t believe you.

My work desk is mainly my lap top on the train (I commute an hour each way to work every day).

 

11 Serious stuff now: where can we purchase your latest book?

 

All sorts of places (including the airport bookstores) but if in doubt:

http://www.highhorse.com.au/straight-jacket/ OR

http://www.booktopia.com.au/straight-jacket-adrian-deans/prod9780646906256.html

 

 

Thanks for taking part in Lychees or Peaches? Adrian!

If you would like to see more of Adrian you can find him here:

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http://adriandeans.wordpress.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18341665-straight-jacket

https://www.facebook.com/StraightJacket242

 

 

 

 

Lychees or Peaches? with author Mary Pomfret: Mary and Andre The Giant, who knew?

 

 

 

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1 Hard questions first: Lychees or Peaches?

 

Definitely peaches – just love them – I love their perfume too!

 

2 If you were written about in a newspaper, what would the headline say?

 

Oh dear … not sure…maybe “NOT GUILTY!!!” 

 

3  What is your favourite line from a book or movie?

 

Got to admit to loving Rocky movies – I love the line from famous scene where he talks to his son… “It’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get back up that matter. That’s how winning is done!” or words to that effect. Kind of appropriate for the writing profession. 

 

4 Which genre do you usually write in? And why do you think this is so?

 

Literary fiction – often tragedy, sometimes comedy – flip side of the same coin. I’m just a literary type of gal, I guess.

 

5 Tell me a secret about yourself that nobody in the whole world knows? Go on tell me, nobody but me is listening.

 

I have on occasions watched world championship wrestling.

 

6  Oh Mary, I can just see you now – sparring in your arm chair.  So far from your book topic! Tell us what your latest book is about?

 

A short story collection “Cleaning out the Closet” 

 

7 How did you come up with the title? Did it come to fistycuffs with your editor?

 

I came up with it all by myself – it’s kind of an empowering thing to do … getting rid of stuff! Not that I’m saying my short story collection is “stuff” … not really. 

 

8  When you daydream about singing on The Voice (I know you do) what song do you sing and if you could have any celebrity judge in the world turn for you who would it be?

 

I never daydream about singing on The Voice…some things are just not possible. But if by a miracle it did happen my judge would be Marcia Hynes and she would say “Good job!” and look incredibly sorry for me. 

 

9  What do you really, really, really, love?

 

What, not who? Well, I really love drinking a good champagne, as expensive as possible ( preferably paid for by someone else) on a warm summer evening, maybe with blue vein cheese, caviar and crackers.

 

 

10 Can you show us a quick snap of your work desk? No tidy spic and span ones please. I don’t believe you.

 

 My desk Mary

 Did you tidy your desk, Mary? I distinctly remember you saying something about coffee cups? 🙂

 

11 Serious stuff now: where can we purchase your latest book?

 

Cleaning out the Closet  is available from the author, contact marywriter@live.com 

 Dymock’s Bendigo or from the publisher  http://www.ginninderrapress.com.au/

 

Thank you for taking part in Lychees or Peaches, Mary!

 

Mary can be found on Facebook at  Mary Pomfret  or on her blog here. 

Lychees or Peaches? with author Pamela Freeman: don’t get between Pamela and her drum kit!

 

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1 Hard questions first: Lychees or Peaches?

Um…nectarines? Peaches if I must.

 

2 Okay, nectarines it is then (you’re such a rebel Pamela.)  If you were written about in a newspaper, what would the headline say?

Funnily enough, I received a copy of an article about me today.  The headline read:  Top Author Shares Secret With Students.  I’m okay with that one.

 

3 I wonder what that secret was – I bet it has something to do with drums – I guess we have to enroll in your novel writing course to find out! What is your favourite line from a book or movie?

This is hard…I’m a bit of a media girl. It’s likely to be a Monty Python line, like: Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Or We would like: a shrubbery. I also love the first line of George Orwell’s 1984: It was a cold, clear day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen.

 

4 Which genre do you usually write in? And why do you think this is so?

This is a hard question for me as I’ve just changed genres. In the past, I’ve written mostly fantasy (plus science fiction, mystery and non-fiction).  But my most recent novel is for adults and it’s straight history, set in World War I.  It’s called A Soldier’s Wife.  I suspect I may be writing more of historical fiction – I started a few years ago, with a book about Mary MacKillop’s childhood, but it’s been growing on me. I enjoy the research, I think.  I used to do a lot of research for my day job, and I did find that when I started full-time writing I missed that element, so maybe that’s why I’ve turned to history.

 

5 Tell me a secret about yourself that nobody in the whole world knows? Go on tell me, nobody but me is listening.

I blush to admit it, but I don’t have many secrets. I talk too much for that and my husband knows me too well. Can I use one that he knows?  I have a passion for real estate.  I’m one of those people who are constantly going online to check out what’s open for inspection.  I like to ‘keep an eye on the market’ just in case – even though we have no immediate plans to move!  My husband indulges me in this.  At least it’s a cheap hobby!’

 

6 If that’s the case, Pamela, I’ll remember not to tell you any secrets!  What is your latest book about?

The last published book is a non-fiction book about how Australia changed during Mary MacKillop’s lifetime (a project book, really).  The next one coming out is the fourth Betony book, Princess Betony and the Hobgoblin.  And my current novel is the WWI book, A Soldier’s Wife, which is with the publisher at the moment.  I’m waiting to find out if they’re going to publish it.

 

7 Good luck with A Soldier’s Wife! How did you come up with the title? Did it come to fistycuffs with your editor?

Not so far, but the cover designer hasn’t got hold of it yet!  In my experience, that’s when you are most likely to be asked to change the title. In fact, I’ve changed it twice already. My first working title was 1916, which sounded like a text book; then I called it The Home Front, but I thought that sounded boring.

 

8 When you daydream about singing on The Voice (I know you do) which song do you sing and if you could have any celebrity judge in the world turn for you who would it be?

I love Joel so I would pick him.  As for songs…. so, in my daydream, I sing a lot better than I actually do, of course, so I could handle songs I couldn’t really sing… something jazzy from the 30s, maybe? There’s a Bessie Smith song I heard recently (at a Hugh Laurie concert) which is so much fun and yet so heartbreaking that I couldn’t resist it. It’s called Send me to the Lectric Chair, and it’s a woman singing to the judge, asking him to give her the death penalty because she’s killed her unfaithful lover. Sounds appalling, but it’s a hell of a song! Judge, Judge, please Mister Judge, send me to the ‘lectric chair…

They would turn, oh yes they would!

 

9  What do you really, really, really, love?

My drum kit

 

10 Can you show us a quick snap of your work desk? No tidy spic and span ones please. I won’t believe you.

 

chair

 I don’t write much at a desk.  The great advantage of writing in a chair is that it stays neater than a desk!

 

11 Lovely, lovely chair, I think you might have the secret to writer’s back health. Okay, serious stuff now: where can we purchase your latest book?

My kids’ books are available in most bookshops – or they can be ordered anywhere,  Dymocks, Booktopia, Amazon.  You won’t find Betony at Big W, because it’s a small (gorgeous) edition and they can’t shelve it, but once it’s out in paperback you’ll be able to get it there too (next year).  My adult fantasy books can be ordered also – I would recommend Pulp Fiction books if you want them quickly (0732362750)

 

Thank you for taking the time to do Lychees or Peaches, Pamela!

Pamela Freeman teaches a novel writing course at the Australian Writers’ Centre in Sydney, her next one starts in June, and I think there is still a couple of spaces if you are quick!

 

Pamela can also be found on Facebook at pamelafreemanauthor

 

 

Lychees or Peaches? With author Ian Trevaskis: why we all need a Border Collie named Peggy

Kicking off our new author interview series, Lychees or Peaches, is author, Ian Trevaskis. Let’s go Ian!

 

 

1 Hard questions first: Lychees or Peaches?

Definitely lychees

2 If you were written about in a newspaper, what would the headline say?

Acclaimed Author Admits He Made It All Up!

3 What is your favourite line from a book or movie?

“Take no prisoners!” from the movie Lawrence of Arabia

4 Which genre do you usually write in? And why do you think this is so?

Children’s picture books. Because I’ve never really grown up.

5 Tell me a secret about yourself that nobody in the whole world knows? Go on tell me, nobody but me is listening.

Back in the good old days when I was a kid I had a Border Collie called Peggy. We would often sit on the back verandah and discuss the day’s events. She was never judgemental and I could tell her all my fears and aspirations. She would occasionally nod and offer a lick. 

6 What was your latest book about?

‘Edge of the World’ brilliantly illustrated by Wayne Harris is about a fishing village near the edge of the world grieving for a mother and her children drowned at sea. Toby, the husband finds some magical silver pots in his nets and over time paints the village and brings life and hope back into their world.

7 How did you come up with the title? Did it come to fistycuffs with your editor?

Simple – the village was near the edge of the world! My editor (Donna Rawlins) and I figured that was probably an appropriate title and there were no fisticuffs, probably due to the amount of wine consumed when making the decision.

8 When you daydream about singing on The Voice (I know you do) which song do you sing and if you could have any celebrity judge in the world turn for you who would it be?

I can’t sing to save myself and I’m not prepared to kid anyone to the contrary.

9 We won’t ever force you to sing, Ian – it could result in a national disaster! What do you really, really, really, love?

Apart from my gorgeous wife and four incredibly talented children, it would have to be the complete series of ‘The Famous Five’ by Enid Blyton.

10 Can you show us a quick snap of your work desk? No tidy spic and span ones please. I won’t believe you.

This looks way too tidy, Ian. Someone needs to go in a mess it up!

11 Serious stuff now: where can we purchase your latest book?

‘Edge of the World’ can be ordered through Walker Books Australia (a paperback edition was recently released) or from any major bookstore if they don’t have it in stock.

 

Thanks for taking the time to do Lychees or Peaches, Ian!

If you’d like to find out more about the mysterious Ian and his tidy desk, he has a website here!

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