1. What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?
I actually had the most unhelpful advice and that was “no one wants poetry”. I would have two to three times the amount of poems without this advice, but I was too impressionable to realise. For fantasy, the most valuable advice has been to brig out the characters in more depth.
2. What do you think is the best way to improve writing skills?
Experiment and practice, I am always trying to push myself a bit further. For fantasy, it has been in the preparation and having regular writing routine.
3. What advice would you give to help others create plot lines?
With poetry the simplest idea can resonate and have meaning. For fantasy, it takes a while for the plot to take shape, the story tends to be complex but at the heart is what motivates the characters.
4. What has helped or hindered you most when writing a book?
It took a lot of convincing to publish after receiving bad advice, I had been carrying a misconception for years about poetry. For fantasy. it is finding the right part of the story to tell that can either be a blessing or a curse. Each story has its own momentum and style.
5. Does writing energise or exhaust you? Or both?
The actual process is done with enthusiasm and leaves a sense of exhaustion from achievement. There are times when it can be difficult and life can cause a distraction.
In 2019 a rare interview from my mother was released via the podcast “A Perfect Storm: the true history of the Chamberlains” throughout several episodes. What made this interview unique was the sincerity, honesty and diligent attention to detail. When I was four or five Sally gave her only other interview after a stranger had published slander to ruin her credibility as a witness. It was at the height of a media frenzy that would be played out like a soap opera and consume the attention of a nation. The interview released in the podcast was done without bias or prejudice, and encompasses some of the raw emotions my family has lived with including sorrow and grief. My mother had no idea about podcasts and this is how I struck up a conversation with the interviewer, John Buck.
After some encouragement, I went around to dad’s place and went through the old slide collection. Dusting off ten slides that were taken at Uluru (Ayers Rock) on 17 August 1980. We headed off from Alice Springs in the morning and arrived around midday. For my parents it was the trip of a lifetime and I was 17 months old. I was small and sickly, and due to be placed in a tent half an hour after Azaria was taken. One moment my parents were having a wonderful evening and the next my mother heard the part cry and saw the scene left in the tent. For years I have carried a personal grief and it has taken a long time to understand that the tragedy was also a nation’s grief. On the fortieth year of remembrance I released the slides that had never been seen and fifty poems.
The third volume for the anthology is a compilation of the journey and exploration, moving forward into the unknown and reaching beyond the immediate limitations. It encompasses some of the struggles through a period of change and restoration, with unforeseen setbacks and challenges in life. In my mid-thirties my body wanted to slow down in haste and everything I thought that would be, had to be re-evaluated. Nowadays I have reached a balance, I do not take on too much and enjoy the quiet moments.
It was on a Thursday when my body gave way and I could no longer stand. I would like to say that it was picked up straight away but because I was too young I was sent home. Some of the nurses thought I was faking and made remarks loud enough to overhear. My case was forgotten and I had to be my own advocate, waiting as the hospital found the request from the doctor that should have been urgent. Yet on the other hand I was lucky, because through all the delays it was discovered. I had a swollen heart and it would be close to a year before a sign of real improvement showed.