Susanne Gervay is a friend to many in Australian children’s and young adult literature. She is a strong woman, funny, self-deprecating, a tireless networker, a generous spirit, a fine writer and, this year, was honoured with the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM). Here, she shows us the engine room, where her exploits in kidlit manifest.
Where did you write your latest book? How important to you is the space in which you write?
In my home study. I wish I could say it was a romantic spot under an ancient tree, but it in my cluttered office with files and books and my computer switched on.
Do you transform your space in any way for each book? Do you ‘get into character’ at all?
My space gets messier and messier as I write and everything is put aside. I don’t transform my space for each book. However I do get into character. When I was writing That’s Why I Wrote This Song, Eminem and Good Charlotte rocked through my study. When I was writing Ships in The Field, I was a little girl again reliving growing up in a family which escaped war and communism to find home in Australia.
How has the place that you write evolved or changed since you first began writing novels?
It’s got messier with more files. It’s my internal life that evolves and deepens, rather than my physical space.
Do you keep regular writing hours? If not, when do you write?
If I could I’d write every morning, then work and carry on with the responsibilities of life and even have some ‘play time’. However the writing life has increased my involvement in tours, festivals, conferences. I also work at another job. There’s family, too. So I don’t have regular hours. I write under pressure and can stay up late into the nights for months to get a book completed. Not the best way to write.
Do you have a morning ritual? Roald Dahl was said to sharpen pencils. What settles your mind for writing?
My very early morning ritual is to go to the computer and see what emails have come. I answer those I need to. I love it if I have a writing project. I just finished co writing the film script for my JACK books – with John Larkin. However, I really don’t have a ritual. I’d like one.