- Guest Author -
Today I welcome an author with whom I have spent many hours chewing the fat about writing and life in general, sitting on her back verandah or mine, drinking coffee or wine - Judith Perry. Judith is a woman of many talents. She knows much about plants, poetry, writing and has travelled to distant places on this vast continent. Welcome, Judith ...
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
My journey probably began in the isolation of my early childhood. One is "flung back on one’s inner resources" so say the experts and I learned to talk to paper in the absence of young friends.
In my adult life being a Building Designer was another form of communcating on paper so the segue into full time writing has not been difficult. My husband died ten years ago and I really found my voice on paper then. Well--- one has the time in ‘retirement’ to concentrate, learn, develop, experiment and forget about mortgages and dirty dishes and other distractions.
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
After completeing the Professional Writing course I found I was publishable. I wrote travel articles (now that I have the time to travel) and won a few writing and poetry competitions and wrote columns for local newspapers. And have hundreds of half finished ‘pieces’ stashed ---somewhere. No time to finish them as the next story in my brain crowds in demanding expression.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
The challenge. Creating pictures from words. Sometime I enjoy the accolade. It seems to justify the dirty dishes in the sink and assuage my concience, not being too particular about life’s other distractions.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
Forgetting what day it is. Struggling with ever changing new technology.
WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
As well as a building designer and company director---many things. Too numerous to mention. I have cleaned toilets too.
Wife and mother probably high on the count though because of the long-term dedication that requires.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
Apart from actually finishing something? I think I am a better editor and proofreader than a writer. I am the person who made all the correction notes in your library book.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
Several manuscripts, all nine tenths finished of course, and I promise I will get back to them. Currently I am teaching Creative Writing in my local community and write a monthly column for the local paper. I like my community as they accept what I am whilst quietly thinking ‘she’s a bit dippy’. I also edit memoirs and various manuscripts and biographies for others.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Life and the people in it. The fact that I am alive and can hear the birdsong, see the mountains and smell the roses. I feel a great sense of freedom and contentment. And I have been blessed with a good brain and a supportive family structure.
WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
Non-fiction. That usually means ‘how to’, or ‘do it my way’ if I want to be arrogant. Occasionally I (or is it the computer without me) lurch into fantasy and the results always surprise me. I read it back and wonder did I really write that. How strange the pathways in one’s brain.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
The caption on the bumper sticker here should read "Writers do it Daily", or "Writers do it with Passion". If you don’t like what you do you will not succeed at it. Behave like a piece of blotting paper and soak up everthing life throws at you.
DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
In the early days yes but now, ‘doing it daily’, never. I think my brain has trained itself to enter the writing room it contains with ease. It’s a familiar room to me and I love being in there. Full of exciting stuff and much of it irrelevant. I am a whizz at Trivial Pursuit. Sometimes I attack the filing cabinets (in my brain) and do a bit of housekeeping. I have an in-box and an out-box up there too. What a shame that orderly-ness does not extend itself to the kitchen sink!
DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
Maybe upon waking up. But that could be anytime these days. I have bought myself a tiny voice recorder should the muse strike in an inconvenient place.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
Somewhere cool or somewhere sunny depending on the time of year. But always away from intruding artificial sound.
I love the English language. It is a joy to control the words the way I feel.
And that includes poetry –in all its forms.
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
At the moment it’s Jared Diamond. He helps me to put the world I live in into perspective and understand modern evolution. Diamond’s latest book The World Until Yesterday helps to slap me in the face on my thoughts for the future.
WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
"I laughed and I wept and every emotion in between".
WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
The reader in question was not an habitual reader and the comment was ‘I don’t get it. What is this about?’ Everyone else was falling over with laughter!
WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
I have had a varied and fulfilling life and I think that gives me a secure springboard, or base, to draw on. I am still experiencing wonderous things and hope there is never a past tense for me.
OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
Of course family. We have a rare relationship in that all four generations are close even though we live hundreds of kilometers from each other. It’s like a unit that does not waver in it’s constancy and purpose.
I love the night sky: I love hiking in the bush or sitting by the ocean, experiencing new things, events and meeting new people. A good Chardonnay in the evening. I will never fit all the wanna-do’s in to my life.
DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
My real book/s is still under the bed. I have had various editors look at my various works and always get the thumbs up. Meaning go ahead but I have a "publishing block". Maybe the challenge of writing it was enough for me. Or is it procrastination? Or the battle with technology.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
Everyday I breathe.
IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
Who would want to be stuck with one person. I’d like my whole tribe of 10,000 people to come too. They are what makes life interesting. I really don’t fancy being marooned with a soccer ball and madness has already almost descended on me. Maybe god (or the deity of my current choice) would be good---it should know everything.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?
There is no-one to lead if we do not have clean water, food and pure air to breathe. Surely that’s the bottom line.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
Nothing specific. A bit of travel—New Zealand and Africa. Keep scribbling. Stay fit and eat better. Learn the ukelele. Change the world for the better where I can. Learn to be a bit nicer and tidier.
WHAT FIVE BOOKS WOULD YOU TAKE TO HEAVEN?
I would take my new iphone and have access to many of the good books out there. That is of course if Apple and Silicone Valley or wherever/whoever are still in business and you all are still writing. The angels could pay the phone account and the App store. Charged by lightning bolts.That would be heaven. Other than that possibly Homer’s The Iliad and a good dictionary to study. But they are probably Apps now.
DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?
I spend a lot of time laughing at myself and the human condition. I think this comes through in all my writing.
DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?
Yes. The printed word represents a lot of power. If I write it why should a service industry take most of that power. So it’s about their profit---not mine. I did self-publish a small book and found the local printer more than helpful.
DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
No. What would I do to replace my scribbling and all the wonderful private conversations I have in my head.? There---she has no imagination!
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY?
I’ve written a non-fiction, very practical, manuscript on what happens in the back yard as a result of climate change, peak oil, changing ecosystems and consummate consumerism. Learned so much in the research.
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER.
Everything I write is well received by the readers it was intended for so I suppose that is what success is.
WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?
Hopefully knowing more about the human condition or traveling to somewhere obscure. Or just have a good laugh and feel good.
HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?
For others quite a bit of thought should go into it---not just the publisher’s latest idea. I have always had strong views about my (potential ) book covers and being a photographer I would prefer one of my photographs to "show"what’s inside.
WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?
I could say "save the frogs" but I have had many good dreams and achieved quite a few. Perhaps if everone the world over could die, as I eventually will, in contentment with a full stomach would be a nice ultimate. Meanwhile, the dishes are still in the sink and the lawn’s not mowed.
WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
Part of my dream is to market my own books. I love to get out there traveling and selling my product would pay the expenses. That way I get to meet the next "story" too.
ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
I enjoy your site, Clancy. You are a man of many talents, and some of them quite obscure (which makes you even more interesting). A big thank you for doing what you do.
Clancy's comment: Judith, thanks for sparing the time in your busy schedule. Keep going. Have one for me ... or two or three.