LORETTA Hill knows all about deadlines. When I interviewed the Perth-based author of The Girl in Steel- Capped Boots, released February 2012, she was writing to a pretty tight deadline at the moment, with her second book well under way.
“I’m on a strict regime at the moment. It’s almost like a diet. Did I tell you I’m pregnant with my fourth child? I’ve got the book and the baby due in August… I’m hoping the book comes before the baby,” she said.So far, by cramming her writing into two mornings a week and Sundays, she seems to be on schedule.“I’ve written about 40,000 words. I need 100,000 words. I think I’m going to make it,” she said with a laugh, adding that that any edits would need to be tackled after baby number four was welcomed.“When I had zero words it was really nerve-wracking, it was panic stations. It’s so hard starting a new book, not knowing if it’s going to be good.”
Hill is under contract to Random House for three books. Her current book, yet to be titled, will be set in Australia’s north-west, like her debut novel The Girl in Steel- Capped Boots, but Hill was quick to point out that it was not a sequel.
“It’s not continuing Dan and Lena’s story,” she said. “There’s a new heroine, Wendy.”
The character of Wendy connects romantically with fly-in, fly-out worker Gavin, who was introduced in The Girl in Steel- Capped Boots.
“I struggled with him because I didn’t really like him,” Hill explained, adding that the character is being given more depth in the second novel.
As for Wendy, she is set to raise a few eyebrows – hopefully a few laughs too.
“She works in safety. She’s always telling people what to do and everybody finds her really annoying. She’s a pest!” Hill said.
“I really like the story and the characters.”
The eldest of four girls, Hill enjoyed writing from a very early age; when The West Australian newspaper paid her $10 for a short story about a circus horse, the then 11 year old knew she’d found her calling.
A career in engineering meant writing was relegated to her free time, but Hill never gave up on her dream – she wrote five books she describes as “unpublishable”, but at the time thought were her “best ever”. To her, these books were a learning experience; these days she has no desire to revisit them for publication purposes.
“I wrote the first book at 18 – I’m not really interested in the same things. And I was writing in all different genres. I didn’t know what genre I was good at.”
Now, as she fits writing around three children under four, her calling appears to be with mainstream commercial women’s fiction, or romantic comedy.
“The key is perseverance. Keep trying. Don’t give up,” she said.
“The most important thing to do is just write all the time. Your writing improves every time you write. It’s a bit like being an athlete or pianist except with writers we don’t know when our gig is coming.”