19 January 2017 - HELEN CHEBATTE - Guest Author




HELEN CHEBATTE
- Guest Author -

G'day folks,

Here is my interview with an award-winning author and professional actress.

Welcome, Helen ...


1.   TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.

While BRO is my first novel, life hasn’t always been about writing.
I am a professional actress and work in film, television and theatre. Some of my credits include guest roles on Crownies, Deadly Women, and the feature films, Cedar Boys and Alex and Eve. I also spent time teaching Speech and Drama.

I began writing about ten or twelve years ago after my dad passed away. I wrote as a way of expressing my grief. It wasn’t until I stopped that I realised how much I liked the written word. I started again but this time I wrote stories. I couldn’t get enough of the literary world so I took writing courses, joined writing organisations and even co-founded a writers group.

I was thrilled when my novel, BRO won the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Aspiring Writer’s Mentorship and the Inaugural Charlotte Waring Barton Award for unpublished work. A few years later it was published by Hardie Grant Egmont.




2.   WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?

Creating stories is one of the great enjoyments but also meeting so many terrific people.


4.   WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A
WRITER?

I started my working career as a Hairdresser. That was fun for a few years but the desire to act was too strong so I left hairdressing and became an actress. I also taught drama. Writing was a surprise. It came much later in my life and in an unexpected way.


5.   WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?

Before my book was published, it won the Children’s’ Book Council of Australia’s Aspiring Writers’ Mentorship. It was such a thrill to know someone else liked it.


6.   WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?

I’m working on my second YA novel. It has similar themes to my first one and is, after some serious writer’s block, moving smoothly now.

7.   WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

Acts of kindness.



8.   WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?

Young Adult novels and picture book texts – so far.

 
9.   DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?

Yes, and I don’t like it.



10. WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?

A parent told me their son hated reading until he read BRO. Reluctant readers were one of the target readers I had in mind when writing BRO so it was most pleasing to hear it had reached that goal.



11. WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?

Yes, definitely. I see a lot of myself and my surroundings hidden in my stories.


12. OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?

Acting! It’s all about creative expression. Travelling, I’ve just started to visit other countries and places, and I love it! Movies, I watch three a week at least. I also love being at home. And of course, reading, there’s always a book somewhere nearby that I can pick up and disappear for a while.


13. DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?

As a matter of fact, I did. Twice! The first time was during my mentorship. My mentor was the children’s book editor at Penguin. She gave it a good work over. Months later, when my mentorship was over and more changes were made to the story; I sought the services of another professional editor. I wanted it to be as perfect as I could get it before it was submitted to publishers.




14. DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.

My perfect day changes depending on my mood, my work load or even the weather. Right now, a perfect day would be a lazy day, reading a chapter or three between movies while the rain falls on my garden outside. Eating homemade cake would complete that scene.


15. IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?

I’d have to say my husband, Charlie because he’d find a way off the island.


16. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?

I would echo John Lennon’s famous lyrics, ‘give peace a chance’ and if they ask how to do that, I’d echo another of John Lennon’s lyrics ‘all you need is love’


17. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?

Too many! But it is better, I think, to plan for the present.



18. DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?

I think there’s a bit of me in all my characters despite them being mainly males. I think writers always leave a part of themselves in their stories.



19. DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?

Years ago I would have said no, never but as I’ve gotten older I find things can get overwhelming. I recently read something that said; instead of thinking about quitting, learn to rest and I think that’s probably where it’s at with me.





20. WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE YOUR BOOKS MADE INTO MOVIES? EVER WRITTEN A SCREENPLAY?

I would love to see BRO as TV series. It’s set in a high school yard and has interesting characters. Many things can happen based on what these characters believe, think and say. And the rules of their school yard create many ongoing conflicts.

I do dabble in a bit of screenwriting.



21.   WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?

Writing BRO was an enjoyable experience. It was fun and inspiring. Marketing however is hard work although necessary. It’s new to me and I’m taking it as it comes, learning as I go along. It’s great seeing established writers do their thing when it comes to marketing their books. There’s a lot to gain from watching them.



22. WHAT PISSES YOU OFF MOST?

Cruelty, especially to animals.



23. WHAT IS THE TITLE OF THE LAST BOOK YOU READ? GOOD ONE?

A YA book called Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman. It was fantastic! I’m looking forward to the next one in the series.








Clancy's comment: Thank you, Helen. I like the title. Good luck, and keep writing.

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