Copyright - Clancy Tucker (c)
Quote of the day:
"Either write something worth reading
or do something worth writing."
Today it's an honour to present a well known Australian author - Errol Broome, who states on her website, "In my books I like to explore the small daily dramas that affect the way we feel. I hope to keep you turning the pages and that you might laugh and cry along the way." Errol has won many awards and published some great books. She has been a great mentor to me in recent years and I'm grateful for her wisdom. Welcome, Errol.
Errol Broome - Guest Author & Mentor
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
I always wanted to be a writer. Perhaps I was just doing what was expected of me, as Mum
often told me what the doctor said when I was born Errol Carew Moss – and a
girl! He said With a name like that, she should write a book. I mostly do
what I’m told, and my first story was published in a West Australian weekly
magazine when I was nine.
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
After University, I started on The West Australian as a cadet journalist.
We had a good training there, constant scrutiny of our work and a style book
with an emphasis on short words and clear meaning. After I moved to Melbourne, I thought it was time to try my hand at fiction, and found it much harder. Sticking to facts
was easier, but not as exciting!
I had some success with short stories, then struck a problem with a grandmother who
turned cartwheels. She just wouldn’t follow my perceived text, and I’d almost
given up when I realized this was not a story for adults. It became Wrinkles, my first book for children. I had eight published children’s books before I wrote Dear Mr Sprouts. At that time someone called me a ‘new writer’ and I was delighted because I felt perhaps I’d found a new voice.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
I love feedback from and exchange of ideas with readers and other writers. Before that happens, I enjoy working with words, trying to give an extra sense to what we see and hear.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
Isolation; trying to find it, and then to accept it. A writer must have time in A
Room of One’s Own (Virginia Woolf.)
WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
Always a writer, if you agree that journalists are writers.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
I don’t know that I can call any ‘great.’ I’m quite proud of my junior novels, and got a kick out of Away with the Birds becoming a CBCA Honour Book.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
Ah, I believe what Helen Garner once said, that talking about a work in progress takes the steam off the top. But I can tell you I’m going over manuscripts that I know are not yet good enough.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I’m not sure I can be honest about this. People get inside my head – characters on the street or in the train, the way they dress and speak and walk and what they eat. Reading
inspires me too. Sometimes a feeling or past experience has been inside me for years
before it pops out as ‘inspiration.’
WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
Books for children, mostly junior novels but also picture books.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
Mostly don’ts, I’m afraid. Don’t write for children because you think it’s easy. Don’t moralise. Don’t give us an introduction. i.e. don’t tell us what you’re going to tell us. And don’t explain. Do show us the story.
DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
All the time.
DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
I like to work in the morning, but I’m happy to grab a chunk of time at any hour. I’ve become more flexible lately.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
My desk, when I’ve cleared it of papers and stuff. When a story is beginning, I may sit at the dining room table with a pad and biro. This way, I feel close to the work. I can let it flow, but also make changes, lots of crossing-out, arrows and notes to myself. When it’s on the way and getting hard to read, I put it on the computer.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
The contact with other writers for children.
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
I have several authors whose books I love, but some years ago an Adelaide bookseller told
me to read Crow Lake by Canadian author Mary Lawson. I loved her characterisation. She
writes with warmth about ordinary people, but with a great plot too. Her second
book, The Other Side of the Bridge is hard to put down and painful in parts, but again heart-warming. I keep asking my bookseller if she’s written a third novel.
WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
A Canadian teacher wrote to tell me Dear Mr Sprouts was the first truly Australian book he’d become aware of, and that it had brought him toAustralia.
WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
‘When are you going to write your last book?’
WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
Always. There’s something of me in every book, but very much changed – and updated. My
characters don’t look like me, or talk like me or even act like me, but I give them some of my emotions. We remember what hurt us, and how we felt as children when we did the wrong thing, so I use these feelings when my characters get into similar situations. Because feelings don’t change between generations.
HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?
OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
I love my garden – and never have clean fingernails. I love music too, and don’t often
have silence in the house.
DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
I have worked with in-house editors. Some books needed more editing than others. We added a new character in Dear Mr Sprouts, and it seemed ages before we got enough tangles in Tangles. Working with the editor is the part I love the most, getting the manuscript the best it can be.
ARE YOUR STORIES DRIVEN BY CHARACTER OR PLOT?
I have no sense of direction; turn me around and I’m lost. So I don’t have a clear idea of plot. I need to know my characters, and when I’ve thought about them enough I set them loose. They lead me on. I might have a firm idea of the ending, but not always sure how we’ll get there. I find out by writing, feeling my way through the plot.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
Time to think, to immerse myself in the work, but not so much time to let in negative thoughts.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
Not to give up. Age won’t stop me, nor the state of the publishing business. Remember
when pessimists said TV would see the end of the movie industry?
Errol's website: http://www.errolbroome.com.au/
|Song of the Dove, listed in the 4th CJ Awards for International Picture Books, top 100 recent publications 2011|
|Dear Mr Sprouts; WA Premier’s Award for a Children’s Book 1992; shortlisted Multicultural Children’s|
Literature Award 1992; listed USA Children’s Books of the Year 1994; shortlisted
Speech Pathology of Australia Award 2007
|Gracie and the Emperor, notable book CBCA Book of the Year Awards 2004The Judas Donkey, notable book CBCA Book of the Year Awards 2004Away with the Birds, Honour Book, 2001 CBCA|
Book of the Year Awards 2001; CBCA notable bookWhat a Goat! shortlisted WA Premier’s Award 1998; CBCA notable book 1998Rockhopper, shortlisted WA Premier’s Award 1994; CBCA notable book 1994Tangles, shortlisted WA Premier’s Award 1993; CBCA notable book 1993Mary Grant Bruce Award 1990.
Thanks Errol. Turn some music on and head out to the garden. You deserve a break. Love ya work! - CT
I'm Clancy Tucker.
Horst Faas (c)