A few months ago, fellow author Kate Forster of Katebook asked me to answer some questions for a writing group we’re in. With her permission, I’m sharing this 20-questions get-to-know you here.
1. What is your definition of creative?
Inspiration sprinkled with imagination to create art or story.
2. What inspires you?
So much. When it comes to writing, people and their stories make me ask the all-important “What if?”. I used to be a journalist and my favourite stories were feature stories of everyday people in the community. I loved teasing their story out of them and then turning it into something that inspired others.
Art and nature also inspire me. My current WIP is inspired by Frederick McCubbin’s The Lost Child painting, a Czech fairy tale, and the majestic but haunting Blue Mountains in NSW. My to-be-published novel Wherever You Go was inspired by tragic story in the media.
3. Who is your favourite writer?
Next question, please! I admire so many writers for so many reasons – it’s hard to single them out. But, if you looked at my bookshelves, you’d see several books by Kate Forsyth, Kate Morton, Daphne du Maurier and Margo Lanagan.
4. What quote resonates with you at a visceral level?
“Help me to be less fearful of the measure of time, and more fully alive in the time that simply is.” – Avis Crowe
Wow. What a reminder to live in the now, to be in the moment however it is.
5. Name 3 things you could not live without?
The people I love. Air to breathe. Food to eat and water to drink (sustenance is one, right?).
6. What is your favourite part of the day?
Creatively, it’s the golden hour, just before sunset when the world shimmers with a golden light. Emotionally, it’s relaxing with my husband at the end of the day, just before bed. Sometimes we have a glass of wine and watch a show together, sometimes we just talk about our hopes and dreams.
7. What is your favourite part of writing?
The moment when a story comes together – when it stops being just words and ideas and two-dimensional characters and becomes real. After that, my head is full of the story and the characters follow me wherever I go, butting into my everyday life!
8. Where is your ideal travel destination and why?
A few months ago, my head was full of an upcoming month-long trip to Paris, London, Dartmoor, and Edinburgh in May (and Aberdeen so I could visit my son). We had an amazing time visiting art galleries and churches and gardens in the cities; walking on the moors, in the Highlands, along rivers and in ancient forests in the countryside.
Now that we’re back and settled into our normal routine, we have started talking about going back. My husband and I have this mental list of all the places we want to go “one day”. It’s very long. But one of the places on this list is Brittany in France; I’d love to rent a place there for a few weeks and walk along the coast and eat Breton food … and another is Verona because I have this twisted short story based on Romeo and Juliet (what if everything you knew about them was a lie?) that I would love to turn into a novel one day.
And then yesterday, we started talking about visiting Germany, which is where my family comes from.
What’s next for us though? A mini-break down south this weekend (we’re staying in the same town Wherever You Go is set) and hopefully a trip to Tasmania next year.
9. What was the last book you read?
When I first answered this, I had just finished beta reading a manuscript for my dear author friend Lily Malone. It’s very different to her romances, but boy, can she write. But a few months have passed since then so the new answer is Mother of Pearl by Angela Savage. It’s an excellent, thought-provoking novel and I’d highly recommend it.
10. What is your favourite TV show or Movie?
The Detectorists won my heart when I watched it. It’s a real gem – tender and funny and clever all at once. Recently I watched Flowers and by the end of both series I was sobbing. It’s a bit out there on the very dark (bizarre) comedy side, but it’s more an exploration of mental illness than funny ha-ha.
11. What was the last piece of music you listened to?
When I first answered this, it was the soundtrack to Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975 film version). I watched it for research and at the time the haunting title theme was technically the last piece of music I listened to. Did you know it was actually a combination of two traditional Romanian panpipe pieces?
But, yesterday I listened to Spotify’s Yoga and Meditation music station. I often have that in the background when I’m freelance editing.
12. When you’re not writing, what do you do?
Yoga, read, cook, hang out with my husband and family, do Coffee Break French lessons in the car, take photos, pat the cat, hike, jigsaw puzzles … lots of things!
I’m rarely not doing something and have struggled for years with the thought that if I’m not doing something productive, then I should be. That perspective makes it difficult to relax and make time for self-care, so I’ve been working on that and now, when I’m doing something, it’s not always “work”.
13. What did your last text message read?
I’ll have to go and check …
OK, here you go: “I was a bit wakeful, hon. I love you too.”
14. Are you doing what you love or doing what pays the bills?
A bit of both. I can’t afford to write full-time, so I work in a theatre part-time. It’s close to home and I meet a lot of creative people, so it works for me. I also do freelance proofreading and copyediting from time to time. It doesn’t leave me as much time for writing as I’d like, but it’s important to me to play my part in the household finances. Especially since there are so many places I want to travel to!
15. If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
Are you secretly analysing this answer? I mean, the answer is cat, because I think it would be nice to have the run of the house now and then, have people feed me and let me sit on them, and basically do whatever I want when no one is home.
16. If you could invite three people (dead or alive) to dinner who would they be and why?
My husband, because he would be devastated to miss out on my cooking.
You know this is taking me way too long to answer because now I’m overthinking, right?
Olivia Colman because I loved her in Broadchurch, The Favourite, Flowers … pretty much anything she’s in.
Anne Boleyn so I can try to work her out for myself.
17. Do you believe in aliens?
When I was younger I would have said no, but now I think why not? Maybe not in the sci-fi sense but I accept the possibility that we might not be the only life in the universe.
18. Do you have any rituals before you start writing?
If the kitchen bench is messy, I have to tidy it.
Right now, I know that Miss 18 poured a bowl of cereal five minutes ago, which means there are drips of milk on the bench, and now she’s just left her bowl and spoon in the sink without rinsing them …
19. Coffee or Tea?
Every afternoon after work (morning on the weekend), my husband (aka personal barista) and I have a coffee together. He makes a tasty brew and even puts chocolate on top, even though it’s a flat white. I’m responsible for the tasty treats we sometimes have with this coffee.
Other than that, tea. Especially a good peppermint or Earl Grey. And it has to be in a proper china cup, not a cheap mug. When I write on the weekend, my husband often brings in my teapot for one, all ready with tea brewing and a strainer. He’s a keeper!
20. Plotter or Pantser?
Pantser mostly, but with my current WIP, I’ve found I have to plot and outline more. My writing process has been surprisingly different with The Bush Maiden.
Thanks for the great questions, Kate! Now it’s time for a cuppa, some editing and then a drive down south.