Interview with Cath Crowley ©April 2011, author of six young adults books so far, please enjoy the responses to my questions. Her web page is http://cathcrowley.com.au/
Thank you for being my guest interview on my blog. It was a delight for me to meet you at Somerset Literary Festival and to share your passion for writing.
Q 1 When did you start writing?
I studied Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT in 2001 when I was about twenty-nine. I loved the subjects Literary Nonfiction and Writing for Young Adults. I was able to have some of the articles and short stories that I wrote in class published – in newspapers and magazines. While I was writing smaller pieces I finished my novel and in 2003, Pan Macmillan published The Life and Times of Gracie Faltrain. I think the journey after publication was harder for me than the journey post publication. After I was published I had to work hard to get better – I’m still working hard at this. And it took me a while to find my style. I think I’m getting close to that in Graffiti Moon. That book has sold overseas, as has A Little Wanting Song (Chasing Charlie Duskin).
Q 2 What were your first writing efforts?
My first efforts were mainly biographical. I moved from that to literary nonfiction articles. I started my young adult novel in Clare Renner’s class, and from that point, I wrote almost exclusively in that genre. The Life and Times of Gracie Faltrain was my first published YA novel.
Q3 Do you write mainly for children or have you written for adults?
I write for children and young adults. Some of my shorter fiction is for adults, but I have no plans to write anything other than YA. I love the genre.
Q4 What writing groups do you belong to?
I don’t belong to any writing groups. I have two writers who read my work and talk to me about my plot and characters. My niece and my editor are usually the ones to read my first draft. I don’t show anyone before that.
Q5 On your blog you say you travelled and wrote letters to your brother that you turned into a musical called ‘The Journey Girl’. Have you written any other musicals or plays?
No, I haven’t. And really, my brother wrote that one. It was based on my letters but he did all the crafting.
Q6 Did this become a production that was the catalyst for you deciding to write full-time?
The production made me think about the idea of writing for a living, but it wasn’t the catalyst. I don’t think there was one thing that pushed me towards writing. It was a combination of things: seeing my students write in class and wish I had the time to do the same, knowing that I loved story and words and wanting to give myself some time to learn about those things.
Q7 Where did you travel?
I was based in London, and from there I travelled around Europe.
Q8 What newspapers and magazines have you been published?
The Age, Hecate, Family Circle… When I started writing I sent off my work everywhere and anywhere.
Q9 Do you write short stories or articles for these publications?
I did write articles and short stories that I was lucky enough to have published. Now I only write short stories if I’m asked to submit to an anthology. I don’t have a lot of time or headspace while I’m working on my novel.
Q10 Do you draw from your own life experiences to write?
I do draw on life experiences when I write. The things that interest me go into the novel. Graffiti Moon is about art and poetry, love and friendship, outsiders trying to find a place. Those are things I’m interested in, so they come up in most of my stories. In terms of characters, I often meet a person who gives me an idea. It’s not the actual person who goes into the book, but what I imagine the rest of them might be like.
Q11 Do you derive inspiration from your own family?
My nieces and nephews help me out with ideas. They read my books for me, which is a big help.
Q13 Your stories character names, where do you get these names from?
Mostly they come from my imagination. Or I might meet a person who has a great name and I write it down, thinking I’ll use it one day. Charlie Duskin’s surname came about because I knew she was a girl who was caught between the end of the day and night.
Q14 At Somerset you said you were shy but you interacted with the kids on their level well. Is this something you picked up from being a teacher?
I guess because I feel shy on stage, it makes me feel at ease to talk to kids as if I were just having a conversation with them. That is what I’m doing, it’s just sometimes it’s a conversation between two hundred kids and me. Also, I’m aware that these teens I’m talking with are my audience. And it’s a great chance for me to find out some things that will help me with my books. So I try to put the nerves aside and make the most of that chance.
Q15 What are you currently reading?
Big River, Little Fish by Belinda Jeffrey. I’m loving it. She writes beautifully.
Q16 What are your favourite books?
My absolute favourite YA book is Looking for Alaska by John Green.
Q17 Who is your favourite author or authors?
There are so many and they change according to what I feel like reading. I love Helen Garner, John Green, David Levithan, Peter Temple, Jonathan Safran Foer, Pat Barker and Tim O’Brien. Also Fiona Wood, Tim Pegler, Simmone Howell, Kirsty Eager and Gabrielle Williams.
Q18 The pictures of you as a girl on your blog are really cute. Do you write with a visual image in mind?
I see everything I write – I can clearly see the streetscape and the characters in Graffiti Moon and the country town that Charlie Duskin visits in Chasing Charlie Duskin. If I couldn’t see and hear the scene, it would be hard for me to write it.
Q19 How do you plot and plan your books?
I start from the character. I write them for a long time, maybe six months. In that time I spend more time walking or visiting interesting places than I do in front of the computer. Basically, I go out and gather ideas. But at about the one-month mark I’m also trying out first scenes. I’m writing any scene that drops into my head. I do a rough sketch of it and so the book is really this document that’s in pieces. I shift those pieces around, I’m aware that I’ll lose a lot, but I try not to second-guess myself. After about six months I go back and re-plot. I’m re-plotting and rewriting and playing around with different voices the whole time. And then I hit a point where I’m close to the finishes voices. I sit down with a friend, and I talk through the plot and the motives and the themes and the imagery. I make sure these are clear in my head. Usually, then I write the whole book, realise it’s not the story I want to tell, throw it out and start again. At that point, the book only takes a few months to write.
Q20 Do you have a regular workspace and schedule you stick to for writing?
I have a space to write in my home, but I do a lot of my writing while I’m walking. I think out a scene and then go somewhere to write it down. I get up at about 4 or 5 am and I try to get in five hours of writing. That way, I know I’ve done what I need to do for the day. Sometimes I do more but often in the afternoon I have to do administration work.
Q21 Do you find Writers Festivals like Somerset inspiring for you and a learning experience from fellow authors and the audience?
I do. This festival is quite amazing. I met a lot of writers and I was able to hear them talk about their craft. This inspired me and gave me a push to keep writing my novel. I met a lot of talented students too. And they inspired me with their love of fiction and their talent for it.
Q22 Are you working on your next project?
I’m working on a book called The Howling Boy. It’s a dual narrative, told from the perspectives of Rachel and Crow. It’s a mystery and a love story.
Thank you so much, Cath, for sharing your perspective on writing and your journey. It was a delight for me to meet you at Somerset Literary Festival and to share your passion for writing. For readers of my blog who want to know more about Cath go to http://thecanarytree.blogspot.com/
I hope you enjoyed this experience as much as I did.
I have the enormous pleasure today to interview Rowena Cory Daniells who is extremely talented and inspiring. Her website is full of useful information, professional with writing tips, awesome interviews with fascinating authors, and her Bio and details her work with graphic art studio R & D Studios. Clearly, the covers of her books reflect these talents. (Note the artwork is mainly Daryl’s work)
Q: When did you start writing?
I’ve always been a writer in that I’m fascinated by a story in all its forms. I didn’t start putting down my own stories until I was in my early twenties when I had my bookshop. I used to read a book in the morning, a book after lunch and a book after dinner. Eventually, I ran out of books that interested me and had to write my own.
Q: What writing groups do you belong to?
I owe so much to writing groups and the wonderfully supportive people I’ve met. Recently I went to Genre Con, which was run by the QLD Writers Centre for writers across several genres. As someone who has been involved with Romance Writers of Australia, has had around thirty children’s books published, has been involved with the Spec Fic world for almost forty years, most recently Vision Writers, and has recently joined Sisters in Crime, as a prelude to my gritty crime-paranormal book’s publication, I felt very comfortable at Genre Con.
Q: What are you currently reading? (Bearing in mind you can read three books a day as mentioned while you were at the Gold Coast Writers Festival.)
LOL. Well, the books were smaller back then. Nowadays, I’m reading on the train to and from work. I read across genres through to factual books for research. One of my favourite things to read is New Scientist and the Science Blogs. I find they trigger ideas for stories.
Q: You study martial arts, do you find the physical activity stimulates your mind and springboards ideas for your books?
I don’t currently do martial arts. Having done Aikido, Tae Kwon Do and Iaido, the art of the Samurai sword, I can bring a certain practical knowledge to my fight scenes. Added to this, I have books on the great battles from antiquity through to the Middle Ages. This is useful when constructing battles for my books. Nowadays I do yoga, which is great for letting my subconscious bubble along and present me with solutions to plot hiccups.
I tend to be very visual so I collect resonance files on the books I write (See King Rolen’s Kin and The Outcast Chronicles), and will often set my desktop image to reflect the book I’m currently working on.
Q: Do you draw from your own life experiences to write?
I think we all draw on our life experiences to give depth to what we write. At Genre Con, I asked Joe Abercrombie how he, a young healthy man, could come up with the character of Glokta, the crippled, embittered torturer. He explained that he’d suffered from a bad back and Glokta was a man who had suffered so much he had no empathy left.
Q: Have you travelled widely?
I would love to travel more than I have. Most of my travelling is done in my head by reading books, reading National Geographic and reading history. People’s personal accounts of historic events, where available, are like time travelling.
When my agent retired, leaving me ‘orphaned’, I applied to Arts QLD for a professional development grant to go to World SF Con in Glasgow in 2005. Knowing that John Jarrold would be there, I approached him with the first three chapters of King Rolen’s Kin. By the time I met him, I’d done more research and realized he had been the editor at Orbit. I fully expected him to turn me down. When he accepted me I was flabbergasted. John sold KRK to Solaris.
Q: What is your association with Supanova?
Supanova is a big multi-media event for geeks. It’s great to get amongst people who love the genre as much as I do. I’ve attended as a guest and as someone who pays to hire a table in Artist’s Alley. Here I am with Joe Abercrombie, Alison Goodman and Lindy Cameron.
Q: Do you find supporting writers festivals such as the Gold Coast Writers Festival beneficial because of the people you meet, the promotion and the book sales?
It’s always lovely to meet fellow writers and readers who love the genre. From a promotional point of view, it is probably more effective to do blog tours, as this way I can travel all over the world and the interview or article will be available forever. (Plus I can write in my trackie daks).
Q: On your website you have some truly fascinating interviews with some wonderful writers such as Karen Brooks, Anita Bell, and Marianne de Pierres, Tara Moss and Simon Higgins, to name a few. Your questions are also very compelling, do you find you enjoy this journalistic type of interview benefits yourself and the writer being interviewed?
I put a lot of work into the interviews, reading people’s interviews and researching them. It is always interesting because I find people and the creative process fascinating.
Q You have eleven books published to date, a Paranormal Crime book titled The Price of Fame and three Fantasy books, King-Maker, King-Breaker and three trilogies King Rolen’s Kin trilogy ( 2010), The Outcast Chronicles (2012), and Fall of Fair Isle (1999-2002). Do you find creating worlds that are believable a challenge?
Creating worlds comes naturally to me. Finding the time to write is the challenge. There’s my paid work, my family, attending and following up on events. Sometimes I wish I could just run away to write.
The problems the people have are often created by the worlds in which they live, just as we are shaped by the society in which we live.
Q: Do you have a set schedule to your day with a time set aside for writing?
I steal every moment that I can to write. But I try to balance this with exercise, research and reading in the genre, to keep my mind active. I have an office at the back of the house, but for most of the last year, I was writing on the kitchen table or my bed, as we were renovating. It’s nice to have my office back again.
Q: What is your current project?
Currently, I’m cleaning up my original trilogy to re-release it and working on King Rolen’s Kin 4 which will resolve the story.
Q: Where do you see yourself in ten years time?
It’s funny you should ask this because for once I don’t have a larger overarching plan. I feel like the industry is changing so rapidly, I’m running on the spot just to keep up with all the developments. I guess you could say I will always tell stories, but I don’t know how I will be reaching my audience in ten years.
I’m about to immerse myself in ‘The Chronicles of King Rolen’s Kin’. I look forward to sharing with my readers these wonderfully woven tales. Rowena, thank you for sharing your talent and insights with me, subscribers and readers of my blog, I’m sure they will have enjoyed reading about you.
For more go to Rowena’s web site http://www.rowena-cory-daniells.com/
Q1. What writing groups do you belong to?
I’m the coordinator of Logan City Writers collective with over 120 members. I lead the Logan Crime/ Genre writers group and I’m a member of Sisters in Crime Brisbane, Vision Writers and an online children’s writer group.
Q2.. You instigated the Logan Writers Festival at one time. Did that help you with marketing your own book?
Indirectly through the contacts I made. I learned how to organize events, speak to large groups, interact with the media and most importantly build friendships via social networking.
YES! After my morning brisk walk, I scribble down ideas in a free-flow consciousness sort of way. Then I begin typing where I left off on yesterday’s story.
Q4. Do you have a special place you find it best to write in?
I love to type up my stories in my downstairs office. But I’ll write anywhere, even on planes, trains and at bus stops. I write seven days a week.
I’m working on a sequel to ME & HER, a companion book which I’ll share strategies for recovery and two bonus, never released chapters from ME & HER. The title will be either ME & HER: a Guide to Recovery or ME & HIM: a Guide to Recovery. What do you think?
I think that would be fantastic! I’ve really enjoyed being a guest host and hope readers of my blog will also enjoy the rest of your blog tour. Thank you so much, Karen for the opportunity. Jill
Please go to http://www.karentyrrell.com and click on BUY BOOK to purchase an eBook!