First, let's meet today's very special guest... Australian author, CALLY BLACK!
She has travelled throughout Asia, Europe and Africa and now lives in Melbourne with her family. When she's not writing YA sci-fi, she teaches TAFE, writes for the educational market, and works with gifted children.
This is standing alone, and if it does really well... who knows?
Hardie Grant Egmont selected it as their Ampersand Prize novel for 2016 from their annual competition. Very exciting for a first novel to hit the ground with an award behind it!
I'm very hands-on. Marisa at HGE has a lot of advice and ideas for tweaks and I see it as my job to realise that potential, so it's a lot of hard and rewarding work. I don't think anyone else could do it for me. There's an unusual voice and it's set in an unusual world. I wouldn't want anyone else to do it for me!
I have two other jobs. I work for a private educational company that works with children during the day and I teach at TAFE at night. Fortunately, I get school holidays off both of those.
Only about a gazillion! Actually the last couple of years I'd stopped sending work out (this stops rejections!) and turned inwards to focus on my writing to try to understand why it got attention but never an offer, and to try to improve. It was a process that involved reading a lot of essays and articles by writers and reading their novels and picking apart how they did the things I loved. I'm still in that process. I may always be in that process. There's so much to learn!
I don't plot. I write to tell myself a story, to entertain myself. If I plotted, I will have told myself the story and the process of writing it would change. What I do is I write scene by scene, and when I get to the end of the story. I put it aside and write it again in a more orderly fashion from scratch, and try to fully realise the motivations and quirks of each character. So I write and then I plot, and then I write again. This second time, I guess is with a writer hat on, whereas the first time, I suppose I'm inhabiting the viewpoint character. This is a very slow way to do things, even if you can type 40wpm, but I think, if the writer is enjoying themselves and connected with their character, you can feel that in the words.
I started it. It went in a weird direction after 20,000 words. I turned the page and started it again, and I've been wrestling it ever since!
How many drafts did you write before you let someone read it? Who was that someone?
Only the opening with Dee before querying. The Ampersand was a bit of a spur of the moment thing. Normally I would run the whole thing via friends, do a novel swap. I'm pretty good at editing, so it's the story that I need examined. Dee has read the whole novel since to help me with the HGE edits.
What part do you find hardest?
Do you think you’re born with the talent to write or do you think it can be learned?
And that's a wrap! Fantastic. I for one cannot wait to read In the Dark Spaces, it sounds awesome. Thank you so much for joining YAtopia today, Cally!