- Guest Author -
Welcome to the life of a successful Australian author - Steven Herrick. Steven is an Australian author who writes poetry and verse-novels for children, young adults, and adults. He also performs poetry in schools and at festivals all over the country and overseas.Welcome, Steven ...
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
I had my first book published in 1990 and have written and had published twenty-three books since then. The majority have been for children and young adults, including eleven verse-novels. I have made a living from my writing for the past twenty-five years. I visit up to two hundred schools per year, here and overseas.
• WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
I’ve written since I was eighteen, when my first poem was published in a magazine and they paid me $5! How could I resist becoming a writer. I’ve always regarded my job as two-fold - writing books and performing my work on stage. It’s enabled me to make a comfortable living these past 25 years.
• WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
Firstly, the response I get from readers or audience members. Secondly, I’ve always enjoyed being my own boss and choosing when and how I work. Thirdly, I love the opportunities to travel that writing allows. In fact, my latest book, titled ‘baguettes and bicycles’ is a travel memoir of my recent bicycle journey across France.
• WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
I always have trouble answering this question because I enjoy every aspect of being a writer. I could not possibly do any other job.
• WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
I’ve been a full-time writer for 25 years. Before that, I worked at any job I could and wrote part-time. I have no other skills.
• WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
My favourite book is the verse-novel for young adults, titled ‘by the river’ which won the NSW Premier’s Literary Award and was Honour Book in the Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Awards. When I wrote it nine years ago, I knew it would remain my favourite, no matter how many other books I wrote.
I have won the NSW Premier’s Literary Award twice and been shortlisted for the CBCA Awards on six occasions.
But ‘greatest achievement’? Making children laugh!
• WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
I’ve just finished a second draft of a prose fiction novel for children, titled HA!
• WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Easy, my wife and two adult sons. And the fact that I know I have an audience to write for.
• WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
Prose fiction and verse-novels and poetry for children and young adults
• DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
Read a lot. Find writers you enjoy and try and work out why.
• DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
Rarely. If I’m having trouble, I usually put it away for another day and come back to it later. I never stress if something isn’t working.
• DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
I usually write between 8am and midday, then have lunch, followed by a bike ride and I may edit in the afternoon. I usually write heavily between November and February and the rest of the year is devoted to visiting schools, travel and editing.
• DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
I have a study that looks over our back deck and garden and down to the distant plains of Sydney. I live in the Blue Mountains. I write on the desk given to me by my Mother when I was eighteen and I told her I wanted to be a writer. It's perhaps my most valuable possession.
• WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
The knowledge that someone will sit alone with my book and hopefully get something positive from the experience.
• WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
I’ve always loved Raymond Carver because he writes so simply and with such strong characters. I also love John Steinbeck and William Least-Heat Moon.
• WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
I always love it when teenage boys come up to me and tell me that they rarely finish books, but they read mine and loved it.
• WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
The only bad review I ever got was on a book called ‘the simple gift’. I thought the reviewer misunderstood the book. It’s since sold over 60,000 copies, so I'd like to think I was proven right.
• WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
I’m heavily influenced by familiar locations. I often set my books in places I know well, but I occasionally change the names of the towns, etc.
• OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
I am a fanatical cyclist, riding 10,000 kms per year. I’ve ridden across France and up many of the Tour de France mountains as well as in Germany, Thailand and of course, most of Australia. I also love football (the round-ball type).
• DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
Yes, all of my books are with well-known publishers who provide editors and an advance!
Except, my latest, ‘baguettes and bicycles’ which I’ve published as an eBook through Amazon, as an experiment. I’m pleased to say it’s doing very well and sells for the ridiculously cheap price of $2.99, even though I get as much from the sale as I do from my $17.95 paperbacks. A strange world is digital publishing!!
• DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
Eating with my wife, cycling alone in the afternoon, watching Sydney FC with my son and having dinner with my family. Family, food, football and cycling.
• IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
Either my wife or my children. I’ll choose my wife because my sons may prefer not to stay alone with their Dad forever on a deserted island!
• WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?
Enact legislation to avert climate change.
Increase tax on the wealthy and feed the poor.
Give up on the absurd notion that the economic health of a country is more important than the social health.
• WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
This year I’m cycling across Germany, Austria and Slovakia with my wife, followed by a visit to Italy and France, including a number of mountain climbs (by bike) of the French Pyrenees. I also plan to write a travel memoir about our cycle across Germany, etc.
• WHAT FIVE BOOKS WOULD YOU TAKE TO HEAVEN?
The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
Blue Highways - William Least-Heat Moon
The Collected Works of Raymond Carver
The collected works of Nick Hornby
One man and his bike - Mike Carter
• DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?
Perhaps all of my characters have something of me in them, even the unpleasant ones.
• DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?
No. I think we live in very interesting times, where what we’ve taken for granted in publishing terms no longer holds true. I’m interested and a little apprehensive of what will develop, but I forsee opportunities for authors to reach a much wider audience than previously. However, earning a living from that wider audience may become more problematic.
• DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
No. There is nothing else I could do.
• WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY?
‘by the river’ because it best exhibits the themes of all my books - love, sex, death, self-image and how we as individuals learn to cope with loss and leaving.
• HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER.
Being read and enjoyed by an audience, no matter how large or small.
• WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?
Oh, that’s for them to decide, not me.
• HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?
I’ve only ever designed one cover and it took way too long and was much too stressful! I'm grateful that my publishers give me the final say on what cover we will use. Having said that, some of my books published in the USA were given truly horrible covers that I was not allowed to change.
• WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?
For myself, to continue doing what I do. For my family, health, happiness and the satisfaction of a job well done.
• WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
I enjoy social media and am active on twitter, Facebook and I keep two blogs. I think it’s necessary for a writer to be active in social media.
Clancy's comment: Well done, Steven. Love ya work!