2 March 2013 - HETTIE ASHWIN - Guest Author


HETTIE ASHWIN

GUEST AUTHOR
G'day guys,
Today I welcome another emerging author - Hettie Ashwin from Australia.  Hettie has been published widely in America, United Kingdom and Australia in magazines and online. The publications include, “A Prisoner of Memory: And 24 of the Year's Finest Crime and Mystery Stories by Ed Gorman (Editor), Martin H Greenburg (Editor), Six Sentences and other anthologies.
 

On line and magazine credits include, Skive, The Outpost, The Yellow Room, Ripples Magazine, Linnet Wings, Artgaze Magazine, and the Queensland Writers Centre magazine with a humorous take on places to write.

Welcome, Hettie ...
 
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY. 
I began writing in earnest after I did a correspondence course for freelance journalism about  8 years ago. With my diploma I wrote for quite a few magazines especially boating themed as I live on a boat, and then after about three years of non fiction I decided to try my hand at fiction ...and liked it. Short stories and then a collection and then a novel and another and another. You know how it goes. Now I only write the odd non fiction article and concentrate on novel writing and short stories.





 




WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER? 
It is the creative process. First thinking of something and then getting it sorted so I can write it. I also like to entertain my audience. And the peace and quiet that happens when I am playing in my head.




WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER? 
A bug bear is having the time to write. I have great plans, ideas all circling around in my head and never enough time to do it all.




WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER? 
I have had quite a few jobs. Meat worker, sterilization technician, salad maker, cook on a dive boat, archaeological assistant, newspaper reel hand, farm hand, tomato sorter, barmaid, chambermaid, cleaner...and the list goes on. Plenty of experiences to draw on for writing.




WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT? 
I think it would be writing a novel for the first time. Just the act of getting it down and done while trying to carry on with life, job, kids, etc. Time is at a premium and every minute I'm doing something other than writing I feel guilty, but that is the nature of the beast I guess.





WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT? 
My work in progress is called "A Shilling on the Bar" It is a collection of short stories told to a travelling Magistrate in North Queensland.  As he travels around people tell him tales of love, murder, deception and more. They are all themed around NQ and have a photo of c1940  places to accompany them.  There are 17 in all and titled by the person's name who features in the story. As I have been writing them I research the place, ie Winton or Mossman and incorporate some small historical facts into the fictional stories. I have had to gain permission from some of the owners of the photographs and they have given me more information about the place. So although the stories are fiction they have a factual feel to them, which makes them all the more real.




WHAT INSPIRES YOU? 
This is simple. People who succeed in writing. When I see someone make good it just spurs me on to achieve.




WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE? 
I am a bit of a magpie when it comes to genre. My first novel was humorous, "Literary Licence" My second was speculative fiction, "The Mask of Deceit", my third is a thriller, "The Crowing of the Beast" and my fourth is humorous again "The Reluctant Messiah". I enjoy humour, but it is a lot of hard work, whereas thrillers are just plain fun. Who doesn't enjoy a car chase and getting the bad guy.





DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS? 
If there is one tip I would give it would be to stick at it and write regularly. Practice makes perfect, but if you feel you want to write then it is in your blood. Stickability is a trait that can be hard, especially when you get rejected over and over, but the only way to get your work out there is to keep at it.




DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK? 
Never. I have too much going on in my head to ever feel I can't write. It might just be all rubbish, but it certainly gives me something to write about.




DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE? 
I try and do two hours every night and succeed most nights. Sometimes I have a night off if I'm tired but I always feel I need to make it up the next night and do 3 or 4 hours. When I am writing a novel I stick to 1000 words a night. I have found this is a great regime to get the book done. 




DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE? 
No, I wish I did. Living on a boat I just perch where ever I have the space. I write on the computer and in a notebook which goes everywhere with me so any spare moment I have I whip out the notebook and jot things down.





WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING? 
I'd have to say it is getting that kick out of someone reading my work and saying they enjoyed it. Who doesn't want an ego boost now and again.




WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY? 
No contest here. P.G. Wodehouse. He has such a way with words and his books are a delight. They may not be war and peace, but they are clever and I like that.




WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER? 
 It must be when they say, I liked the part when... That means they have read and understood, and my job is done.




WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER? 
That my book could do with a good edit. I cringe, because I have done my best and yet it wasn't good enough.




WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU? 
Yes and no. I can pick up on a nuance, a facial expression, a  sound and use it in my work, but I rarely use a whole scenario. That is the thing about fiction. It is so limitless.





OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE? 
Well, I live on a boat so I better say sailing. But I think reading would be top of the list too.




DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION? 
The Mask of Deceit was done, Literary Licence was not. The Crowing of the Beast is being done, and The Reluctant Messiah, I am going to get done.




DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY. 
As a sailor it would be with a stiff wind and going somewhere on the sea. As a writer it would be in an air conditioned room, a really comfy chair and desk, a pot of tea and all day to write. No distractions.




IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY? 
The person carrying the survival pack and the satellite phone for obvious reasons.




WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS? 
I probably ask them if they wanted to buy my book and get a photo of me giving it to them. A shameless self promoter to the end.




WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE? 
I'm hoping to sail to Indonesia in the near future. And I'd like to podcast my adventures for radio. I also have another thriller waiting to be written and I'd like to rework the beginnings of a novel to make it a novella, which is something I have never written before.




WHAT FIVE BOOKS WOULD YOU TAKE TO HEAVEN? 
The Fountainhead ~ Ayn Rand. Life is so Good ~George Dawson. Charlotte's Web ~E.B. White. Of Human Bondage ~ Somerset Maugham. The education of Hyman Kaplan ~ Leo Rosten





DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU? 
Yes, There are so many good authors out there that don't get a chance, because they are not marketable enough. I know everyone has to make a living, but the hype given to one title deserved or not is I think over the top.




DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING? Never with a capital N.




WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY? 
I really enjoyed writing The Reluctant Messiah. I think I have honed my skills a little over the years and this one seemed a lot easier to plan and execute. I think it is quite funny/clever and has quite a bit of word play and sarcasm.




HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER. 
That would have to be achieving something you set out to do, be it finishing a short story or a novel or an opus.



WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL? 
They should know that they have been entertained and feel good about the ride/thrill/laugh I have given them.






HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER? 
Not as much as the story, but I try to make it eye catching as well as informative. I think about the title and cover a lot and look at book shops to see what is working and what is not. Colours and psychology of the reader come into play too.





WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM? 
To make a decent living from writing. What could be better than to get paid for doing something you love.





WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS? 
It is a necessary evil and I try to put as much gusto into marketing as writing. It is hard to sell yourself, but must be done to get your work out there. In the end it is up to the fickled reader what they buy and read. All you can do is put a quality product in front of them.







Clancy's comment: Hettie, you've done well. Keep going. Now, make pot of tea, flop in that comfy chair and get cracking.

NOTE BENE'

Have some great posts coming up: a judge from the Australian Federal Court, a famous Racehorse,  an Aussie film maker, a Human Rights lawyer etc. Stay tuned.
 
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