Copyright Vicki Tyley (c)
Quote of the day:
"The true meaning of life is to plant trees,
under whose shade you do not expect to sit."
- Guest Author
I'm pleased today to introduce a famous name in Australian literature - Goldie Alexander. Goldie recently invited me to be a guest on her blog which was an honour and a challenge. Why a challenge, because she asks very scintillating questions. Anyway. Goldie was born in Melbourne just before the 2nd World War. Her parents had migrated from Poland in the late 1920's, and when she was small, she hardly spoke any English. Her earliest memories are of a time when young children were allowed to wander the streets without anyone worrying too much about them getting into trouble.
Her first four Young Adult books were 'Dolly Fiction' novels published under the pseudonym of Gerri Lapin. Her first book under her own name, "Mavis Road Medley" is a time travel fiction exploring the world of Princes Hill and her parents' struggles to survive the Depression. Since then Goldie has written more than 60 books, and many prize winning short stories and articles.
These days Goldie works full time as a writer, teaches creative writing and takes workshops in Universities, TAFE colleges, clubs and schools. She is known for her historical, science fiction and mystery novels, plus her short stories and non fiction such as Mentoring Your Memoir.
Welcome, Goldie. It's a pleasure to have you with us. Tell us more ...
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
I didn’t start writing until I was in my forties when I wrote 4 YA books under the auspices of Dolly Magazine. At 32, 000 words intended to make young girls more proactive, they were published under the pseudonym Gerry Lapin. My first YA book ‘Mavis Road Medley’ appeared in 1991 and was later nominated as named as one of the 150 best Books by the Victorian State Library. Since then I have had approx 70 books published for both adults and children of all ages by both trade and educational publishers. Not all of it has been easy. Sometimes it has taken many years for a particular book to find the right kind of publisher.
WERE YOU A GOOD READER AS A KID?
Yes. I read voraciously from the age of three. I was a pre TV child and this was my escapism.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
Using my imagination to create interesting characters and settings. I get bored very quickly and I like to experiment with new genres. It’s fun to take a reader out of the normal comfort zone’.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
Finding a publisher that likes your work. These days, what with so little being published this has become harder for everyone, including well published writers.
WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
Not a princess, that’s for sure. Maybe a scribe in a distant palace? Probably a servant.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
The ability to keep going in spite of all the rejections I received over the years. Most writers get rejection slips even if they prefer not to spread this information around.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
Editing two YA novels – Lilbet’s Romance’ and its sequel ‘Dessi’s Romance’ that are being put up as ebook by www.indra.com.au. Also appearing shortly are ‘eSide’, ‘Cassie’s Big Swim’ and ‘Hatchlings’ all aimed at primary school readers and published by Five Senses publishing and I will be marketing those.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Reading. People. Film. TV programs. Current events. Newspapers and magazines. The world around me.
WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
Historical fiction, Crime fiction for both adults and young readers. Fantasy. ‘Real life’ fiction. Non fiction such as ‘Mentoring Your Memoir’. Educational Scripts. Short stories for both adults and young readers.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
Yes. Perseverance. In my many years of teaching creative writing and mentoring emerging authors, I had met some amazingly talents. But not all these talented people had the necessary perseverance, or maybe luck as that seems to also be important, and they quickly fade away. Some authors manage a terrific first novel, and get stuck after that. In my humble opinion, it is the ability to keep going that counts.
DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
Doesn’t everyone at some time or other? In my case it often comes from knowing that if I try a new genre that isn’t currently popular that it might take me years to find a publisher. If I was very famous, perhaps this wouldn’t happen. But then I would worry about possible negative reviews.
DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
Yes, I like to write in the mornings and late afternoon. I rarely write at night.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
I have my own desk where everything is set up.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
Completing a first draft, and then happily going ahead to expand and ‘fix it’. For me that first draft is always the hardest to tackle.
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
I don’t have a favourite author. But if pressured I go back to the classics. It’s hard to beat Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, Hardy, Tolstoy etc. Sometimes it’s the last good book I happened to have read.
WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
I received one the other day from a 13 YO American lass who read my ‘intended for adult audience “The Grevillea Murder Mystery Trilogy” and told her grandmother that they were the best books she’d ever read. If anyone is interested they are up on all ebook sites.
I get lots of nice feedback for “My Australian Story: Surviving Sydney Cove” as many schools use this introduction to our First Fleet. Lately my story about the discovery of Uluru ‘The Youngest Cameleer’ has had some nice comments.
WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
I try to forget those. When a collection of short stories for 13YO boys “Killer Virus and Other Stories” was reviewed, the writer didn’t really mention the stories, instead complained about ‘accompanying teacher notes’ saying that any teacher shouldn’t need these. Obviously the reviewer had never been in a classroom.
WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
Everything that happens to writers becomes part of their ‘grist for the mill’. It’s the way writers use these experiences to craft a good story that is important.
HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?
At last count something like seventy fiction and nonfiction books, plus adult short stories and a CD: ‘Notes from a Bush Hideaway’.
HAVE YOU WON ANY PRIZES OR AWARDS?
Nothing major. Some of my books have won CBC Notable Awards and been shortlisted for other prizes. Some of my short stories for adults have done very well.
WHAT DID THEY MEAN TO YOU?
Winning a prize is always good for the go. But I suspect that prizes don’t always mean books or stories are all that brilliant. I read lots of books that I don’t believe should win prizes. I suspect that they are judged by a panel where the safest option is reached.
OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
Family and friends. Music, films, books. handcrafts, walking. cooking, life in general.
DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
Yes. All my books are edited.
IF YOU HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK TO THE ENTIRE WORLD, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?
I have never thought of myself as having anything new to say that hasn’t already been said. I long for universal peace.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
One where I spend all morning writing and am contacted by a publisher accepting my latest work. Then an afternoon spent in the sunshine the evening out to dinner and a good movie.
WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST ASSETS AS A WRITER?
My doggedness and determination to keep on writing.
IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD YOU LIKE IT TO BE? WHY?
William Shakespeare. Think about all I could learn from him.
SHOULD YOU WRITE YOUR PERFECT BOOK, WHAT WOULD IT BE ABOUT?
Haven’t a clue. If I knew, I would be writing it.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
To keep on writing until either my brain or body gives out.
Goldie's contact points:
Clancy's comment: Thanks, Goldie. It's been a pleasure having you. Love your dogged determination to succeed - CT!