Australian Author of Children’s Books and Teen Books: October 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Characters Who Just Won't Die

I'm 30,000 words into a new book. Just a zero draft (a term I first encountered here on Carole Wilkinson's blog and which she discovered via Scott Westerfeld). I know what I'm writing is mostly crud but I push on anyway, knowing that the story and characters don't truly exist when they're just a pile of notes or an outline. A draft solidifies them in some way. They start to live.

So I'm letting the characters speak and letting unexpected things happen and trying not to force them to fit into my evil plan. But it's hard. I had hoped to blow at least one character up in an unfortunate accident but they all seem to want to stay in the story. I can't think of a polite way to decide which one of them gets it so I'm going to have to jump in late, start the chapter at the penultimate moment and use the element of surprise. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Writing Process

So often writers are asked to break down the writing process and share secrets in workshops and talks but I believe it's almost impossible to honestly describe the actual process of writing a book.

Sure, there are marker posts along the way – outlines or freewrites or zero drafts etc. Those things can be described and disseminated but the other stuff, the magic, the stuff that really makes you love a book, cannot. Fiction writing is such a mash of influences - the things you're reading now, dreams, the things you're struggling with in your own life, every person you've ever met, bits of video from Youtube, the breaks you take to read Twitter conversations, the movies you watch at night, the mix of caffeine and green tea in your system, the perfectly timed nap, an interruption by an AAPT salesperson, and all the other happy and not-so-happy accidents.

Even a piece of chocolate eaten at the right time in the afternoon can stimulate the writing of a chapter that never would have happened without that half Cherry Ripe. (Thanks, Cadbury.) It is truly a mysterious process and I will continue to talk about writing and try to share thoughts with kids and emerging writers but, really, it is unbreakdownable, the truth of what happens on that journey.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Books for Boys Blog

I'm still resident blogger over at Boys, Blokes, Books blog. You can catch my recent interviews with Australian authors:
David Metzenthen (The Really Nearly Deadly Canoe Ride - Win a copy!)
Sherryl Clark (aka Captain Blood. An interview on her obsession with pirates!)
Gus Gordon (The Undys, Wendy)

There's an upcoming interview with Specky Magee author, Felice Arena, too. We both started out as actors and we've followed a similar trajectory, working in TV in Australia, then in the UK, and now writing children's books. We spoke at Perth Writer's Fest earlier in the year and I was inspired by his high-energy show that brought his writing alive for the audience.

The Power of Time Off

Back from a week-long break and it was a life-changer. I haven't had any time off all year and, 
with three book releases very close together, it's been a period of strong focus and intensity. But then I stopped. For a week. Holidays are underrated.

Earlier this week I found a TED talk titled The Power of Time Off by Stefan Sagmeister. He's a New York designer who, every seven years, closes his studio and goes on a year-long sabbatical. He goes to Bali or South America and re-discovers design, plays with new materials and ideas and starts to think freely again.
I think everyone needs this. Creative work starts to feel samey when you work too hard for too long. You forget why you love it. As a writer, I'm also a business person. I have to make a living doing the thing I love but sometimes I become so stuck in my thinking and so mesmerised by the rectangular box of my laptop screen and that blinking cursor in the TwitWindow asking me what I'm doing now that I don't even know what I'm doing.

Long live the holiday. Feeling loose and the words are flowing freely. I remember why I'm here and I'm trusting my gut again, rather than being owned by thinking.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mac Slater Exhibition


Here are some cool drawings based on my Mac Slater series, created by the students at St Ita's in Brisbane.

And a shot of author James Roy and I at the MCG watching Sydney Swans v. Richmond a few weeks ago. I could watch anything at the MCG and enjoy it. (Toad racing might be difficult without some kind of zoom lens.)
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