Claudine Tinellis is a one-time corporate lawyer turned writer who enjoys writing commercial contemporary women’s fiction. She has completed many writing courses including the much-lauded Fiona McIntosh Commercial Fiction Masterclass, courses with the Australian Society of Authors, Australian Writing Centre and more. Claudine is an avid reader of the contemporary women’s fiction genre and of Australian fiction in general. She is passionate about championing Australian fiction writing. To that end, she produces and hosts a popular weekly podcast, “Talking Aussie Books” where she interviews authors about their work, with a focus on debut authors, to shine a spotlight on the wealth of Australian literary talent. Here she tells us why she podcasts.
The most consistent advice I have received about how to become a published author from other authors and writing tutors has, hands-down, been to “write”. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Sit yourself down and write one word … then another … until you have a sentence. And when you’ve done that … keep going. I wish it was that easy! Second only to the aforementioned golden rule is that to be a writer, you must be a reader. International best-selling author Stephen King said it best in his well-known craft book “On Writing”. If you can’t find the time to read, he says, you won’t find the time to write or indeed, you won’t have the necessary tools to do so. On that point, Stephen King will be pleased to know, that I concur since I have always been a voracious reader. So I can definitely tick that box.
I know this sounds like basic stuff … I mean, of course you have to write something to become published. But, it is often the case that wannabe authors can be distracted from the primary purpose of getting those words down on the page by the business of becoming an author – long before they’ve even finished a manuscript. Of that, I am most certainly guilty.
Let me explain. In addition to looking for a polished and compelling manuscript, publishers view prospective authors as potential marketing tools. Many publishers will, in deciding whether to take on a new author, look at whether the author has a platform. For example, do they have a website? Social media? If so, how many subscribers or followers do they have? What is the author’s “brand”? This all helps publishers decide whether a debut book by that author will sell. But how, I hear you ask, do you build a profile without having had anything published? Isn’t that what being published is meant to do?
Now, I’m not saying that having a profile is the only thing publishers look at.
And there are plenty of publishers out there who say it’s not important to them. But for many of us with a manuscript or two to sell, trying to find a way to distinguish ourselves from the pack is becoming increasingly difficult. There are so many wonderful writers in Australia who are unable to find homes for their stories with traditional publishers, leading to an understandable level of angst. All things being equal, what will give an aspiring author the best chance of securing a publishing deal? And so we come back to the little matter of profile. Should aspiring authors be blogging? Do we become good literary citizens by reviewing other authors’ books and hope that one day someone might do the same thing for us? Engage with other aspiring writers and create a community of like-minded supporters? Concentrate on building a solid social media profile? Or something else entirely?
The answers to those questions will be as different as the writers themselves.
I have been writing seriously for a while now and when I finally discovered podcasts a few years ago, the ones I was most interested in were the bookish ones. The ones that featured interviews with writers talking about their books or their journey to publication. I wanted to know their secrets. Were they concerned with building their profile while they were writing? Did they have to wait long before they got their first deal? How did they go from dreaming about being published to actually holding their novel in their hands or seeing it on shelves in bookshops and libraries?
Unfortunately, many of the podcasts available at the time interviewed Australian fiction writers sporadically, and I began to feel frustrated that hearing Australian authors speak about their work was like mining for a gold nugget. Don’t get me wrong, we have many fabulous Australian podcasts – but nothing that ONLY focused on Australian fiction. That’s when the idea struck me. I would create the kind of podcast I wanted to listen to and Talking Aussie Books was born.
It was the most impulsive things I’ve ever done – but, by far, the most professionally rewarding. At the time I was lucky enough to know a few Australian authors through courses and friends who humoured me with an interview in those early days. Wonderful people like Lauren Chater (The Lace Weaver and Gulliver’s Wife), Sandie Docker (The Kookaburra Creek Cafe, The Cottage at Rosella Cove and The Banksia Bay Beach Shack) along with Tania Blanchard (The Girl From Munich and A Suitcase of Dreams). What I didn’t know was whether I would have enough contacts to see me through more than a couple of months. But with a few interviews under my belt, I gained confidence and started approaching authors I didn’t have any prior connection with. And to my delight, all agreed to speak with me. People like Holly Ringland, Natasha Lester, Christian White and Michael Robotham. More recently, I snagged my dream interview with Jane Harper!
Not only have I taken myself out of my comfort zone by starting this podcast, but with every interview, I gain another skill or learn something about writing I didn’t know before.
I have expanded my network of writerly friends considerably – those who are chasing the same goal as I am. We get to know one another in different forums and support each other through the long and often pot-holed pathway to publication. Above all else, I have the very great pleasure of discovering more and more Australian authors and their wonderful books.
Two years down the track, with more than 70 interviews recorded and listeners tuning in from all around the world, I continue to be inspired by the wealth of literary talent we have in this country. From debut novelists to international best-selling authors, traditionally, independent or hybrid published authors, I am proud and honoured they consider chatting with me about their book or their writing journey worthwhile. It is, I believe, a testament to the generous spirit that exists within the Australian writing community – many of whom I am lucky enough to now call friends.
So what started as a fact-finding mission and potentially a way to build my own profile has revealed a magnificent silver lining: new skills, a fabulous network of readers and writers and an ever-growing TBR pile filled with stories by talented Australian writers.
You can find Talking Aussie Books wherever you get your pods, including Apple, Spotify and Google Podcasts.
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