Quote of the day:
"Disregard what the world owes you
and concentrate on what you owe the world.
Forget what you have done for your friends
and remember what they have done for you."
I welcome an Australian author of great interest - Lannah Sawers-Diggins. This inspiring author began her life and writing career on an isolated sheep station in South Australia. Welcome, Lannah ...
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY:
Now, where do I start. I originate from a sheep station in South Australia and am fiercely proud of my background. My primary education was provided by the School of the Air – and I believe that the isolation and loneliness of my childhood were partially responsible for my love of writing being developed very early. Actually I think I could admit to being addicted. Unashamedly in fact. I had many penpals in those days – although lost the lot when I was sent to boarding school at the ripe old age of eleven. Gained a few new ones in my early twenties then seemed to lose interest in writing. Actually, that’s not true – I never lost interest – not completely. I have always enjoyed making stories up, using my imagination and creativity which appeared to be pretty strong then, but have deserted me since.
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
To be honest, I think there has always been a writer in me. I just needed to let the poor thing out – and I finally did, when I had that epiphany. . But (and I know it’s a ‘no-no’ to start a sentence, let alone a paragraph with a ‘but’ but – tough-tough), the factor that really put me on this wonderful road – my epiphany. Yes. My epiphany. My late father had been writing his book for the last twenty odd years of his life. He finished penning it literally just prior to his death in 1993. The manuscript and piles of accompanying photos and documents then passed between my three brothers and me until one day, one birthday – I woke with my epiphany. I suddenly realised I had to get Dad’s book published – before it was too late. Late? Late for what? I’ve never really known the answer to that except that I presume my mother’s advancing age just might have had something to do with it. She was in her late 80s and I did want that book out before she died. But the problem was – how do you get a book published? Seriously, how do you? Feeling I had little option I launched myself onto Google and eventually found the people who could offer exactly what I wanted. Some months later, Dad’s book (my first book) was published and out there – exactly a week to the day after Mum passed away. Bugger! But I am told she knew about it and died a happy woman – well, as happy as anyone can be facing the end of life as we know it. Anyway, that’s what started me on my writing journey. Next off the rank was my book about bullying.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
That’s easy. Everything. There is nothing I do not love about it.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
For the first few years, I could have said not having the creativity or imagination to be able to produce a wonderful work of fiction would have been the answer there. But I do not feel that is true as I absolutely love writing non-fiction. But thanks to another author and friend suggesting that I write about my bullying nightmare in fiction form – that’s exactly what I am now doing. And loving it. Memories are rushing back and most of them are pure nightmares – would put horror movies to shame – but it is soooo therapeutical and I am in my element writing it. Because of the subject (bullying) and my fight against this horrible phenomenon, ‘word’ is starting to spread about my book and I am already receiving queries about it, which is fantastic.
WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
What I was is what I still am – wife, mum, full time employee, writer (but not of books until my ‘epiphany’), advocate for several causes and more. Now I am still all these things and have added author, editor, proofreader, journalist and photographer along with a few other bits and pieces.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
That’s another hard one in many respects. I think my greatest writing achievement, apart from ‘Bullseye’, would be the numerous non-fiction articles that I constantly dream up. My book on stations, my current ‘baby’ will be my best achievement if it all works; but then so will my first fiction book which I am also hard at work on. That said, all my writing is very much a labour of love, too.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
Three books and several articles. The books are the abovementioned book on stations, or stations book. The research into this is presenting the most enormous challenge and one that I am absolutely thriving on. It will involve travelling the length and breadth of the land throughout 2013, visiting and spending two to three days on each of the twenty five to thirty sheep and cattle stations which are actively participating in the book. In the meantime I am interviewing heaps of people in the cities, face to face and via email. Soooo loving it all. And so many aspects involved. Second book is my first foray into fiction – writing about my bullying experienced. So very therapeutic for me and enjoying every minute of it even if the memories are causing nightmares. Third is a book about an Australian maritime disaster which occurred about a week prior to the ‘Titanic’ and due to the latter, this one received very little exposure, irrespective of the fact that the same happened – all passengers and crew perished.
WHAT INSPIRES ME?
Heaps of things. But (oops – starting a sentence with a ‘but’ is a no-no – but tough-tough) as I am getting to know other authors, some very much published and well known and others, yet to be published and just starting out, but ALL of whom love their ‘trade’ – I am finding chatting and listening to them is so very inspirational and many are saying the same about me. Also helping others along this road. Am meeting some of the most wonderful people this way.
WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
Anything and everything that comes along. As I am constantly on the lookout for subjects for any future books, anything and everything that is suggested is considered.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
I’ve been asked this a lot and generally have ‘writer’s block’ when initially trying to answer. As FOR that, writer’s block – yes, I think, irrespective of what some will claim, I feel every author suffers sooner or later. For me, I usually leave my writing completely and go and do something not remotely connected with it. I generally find that things suddenly start flowing again and I can’t do a thing about it cos I’m nowhere near a pen and paper or my trusty laptop. Also don’t drag descriptions etc out too much – stick to the point. Keep sentences reasonably short too. Probably lots n lots more
DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
Answered above. Yes I do but not badly, normally. And there are those times when I just do not feel like writing. A hint here – don’t TRY and force it. If you love it and all that you do it will eventually return and flow.
DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
As I also do work full time my writing is slotted in after work. I am very fortunate in that I can pretty well choose my working hours – and I choose to begin around 5.30 am and normally go through to 3 pm. However, working these hours does mean I can finish at 1.30 pm then have several hours to devote to meeting people and interviewing them (which I am currently doing) and to my writing. I do write late at night too.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
Yes. I have my own study/home office, whatever you want to call it. Couldn’t and wouldn’t be without it.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
I think being able to produce the written word in things that I love doing. And meeting other authors and people to do with writing and all sorts of other industries. It is opening doors to worlds that I honestly never thought I’d be part of.
Copyright Lannah Sawers-Diggins (c)
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
That’s easy. I am passionate about Australian authors, particularly those who set their stories (usually fiction) in the outback. I used to love Agatha Christie and still enjoy Danielle Steele to a limit but my favourites are very definitely Australian now. I am also so very fortunate that I also have connected with all my favourite authors here (except Sara Henderson, deceased) which kinda helps to make it even more special. Some are becoming good friends, which is wonderful.
WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
Easy again. That my writing is very inspirational and interesting. As a writer of non-fiction, that’s about the best compliment I could receive. Will be interesting to see how my first effort at fiction goes.
WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
Believe it or not, the only comment I have had in this respect rose from ‘Bullseye’. Readers saying that it is very badly edited and proofed. That’s because it is not edited and proofed at all. It couldn’t be. Legally I was unable to touch the stories. This was all mentioned in the introduction, which most people failed to read, even after I advertised it. Those who did read that and understand my ‘problems’ have said they could not put it down even if some stories presented an enormous challenge to read.
WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
Absolutely. Completely. That’s how ‘Bullseye’ came about even if my own story was not included in the end. Very ironically. And (oops) ‘The Sawers From Pitcairn’ is an auto-biography. All three of my current books are influenced by events in my life or others. And I’m continually on the hunt for similar stories from other people.
Copyright Lannah Sawers-Diggins (c)
OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
Also easy. Passionate about my family, first and foremost. Love my job even if I do ‘threaten’ to resign almost daily! Love animals and abhor unnecessary cruelty to them. Passionate about the outback and my background out there. I am also passionate about the causes which I ‘push’ – bullying in schools and encouraging our wonderful elderly to do what most humans love – sitting and talking about themselves and their lives. I am encouraging them to do this to their hearts’ content with the aim being to capture these stories – having one or two relations or friends taping it – capturing it before all these wonderful, individual stories are lost and gone forever. Some of my Dad’s were caught. Mum’s weren’t and, like the rest of the world, had a treasure trove to tell – but she is now deceased so all are lost and gone forever.
DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK/BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
Yes and will for all future books. I generally ask my daughter to do this then pass manuscripts onto a few friends who are professionals. The only one that didn’t and couldn’t, is ‘Bullseye’ but there were legal reasons for this. Would not try to have a book published, either self or mainstream, without professional editing.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY?
Er…..let me see. Writing, writing and more writing. Sounds very boring and monotonous but – hey, that’s me. Oh and I might eat and drink a bit and sleep if I can. Otherwise, writing, writing and more writing. Or travelling in the outback – but again writing as I go which is exactly what is going to happen next year. YES.
IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
This sounds sickly, but it would be my family – all somehow rolled into one person. Cos I quite like ‘em.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK WITH WORLD LEADERS?
Now, THAT would be opening a can of worms – or very large snakes! There is just so much I would say but I think trying to have something done legally world-wide (starting with Australia) about bullying in schools would be the main topic.
Copyright Clancy Tucker (c)
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
To write, write and keep writing. To continue loving life and to help and support my daughters as much as I can. To help the people in the outback and everyone else that I write books about.
WHAT FIVE BOOKS WOULD YOU TAKE TO HEAVEN?
Who said I’m going to Heaven???? That is a difficult question to answer – as I am meeting more authors and having about-to-be published manuscripts and newly published books sent to me, the variety is just too large to answer. And that’s fantastic.
DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?
Sadly – absolutely. That’s what my current foray into fiction is all about. And very very likely for the future.
DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?
Yes to some extent it does. But only in the way it frustrates all authors. So does trying to get an agent. Ah well, it’s all part of this life.
DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
WASH YOUR MOUTH OUT. That said, as mentioned before – I threaten to quit my actual job almost daily but anything else – NOT A HOPE. Just love it all far, FAR too much to even remotely consider it. After all I’ve really only just started on this road.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY?
I am having the time of my life writing and conducting the research into my book on stations. Meeting the most amazing and unique people. Also the book on the maritime disaster – loving that and also a huge amount of research involved. And of course my fiction book – as mentioned, THAT is bringing the memories – or should I say, nightmares zooming back – but all so therapeutic as mentioned. The author who suggested I do this couldn’t have been more correct. She knows my background and having just had her own experience (not bullying) written as fiction and published suggested I do the same – and I am.
Copyright Clancy Tucker (c)
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER?
Obviously finding that it, alone, can provide a wonderful life and all that most people ever dream of. Not for me though. I am so very lucky in that I do have a full time job and do not need my writing for my existence. So to answer this question honestly – pretty much exactly what is happening. That I am (apparently) serving as an inspiration for so many and that through my writing, I am helping others – and making myself happy to the point where I could honestly pop. And being encouraged to continue.
WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?
Hopefully (and this does appear to be happening – which I do define as success) people are learning something. For ‘Bullseye’ I would hope other victims walk away knowing they are not alone and that there are people who can help. Even if only psychologically at this stage. Even with my foray into fiction, it is still based on my own experience and I would hope that other victims again, and those in positions of authority (like the government and school staff) might see that – really, something – action – does need to be done. For the relations of the maritime tragedy, maybe it’ll help form some sort of closure.
ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
Just try to stop me. I am talking about my absolute and life’s passion and once started it’s difficult to shut me up. But I will. I am building quite a presence on the web so if anyone is interested in learning anything more about me and what I am doing – not saying that they will but all indications tell me so far that interest is growing – just Google me.
Lannah's contact points:
Clancy's comment: Go, Lannah!
Copyright Clancy Tucker (c)