Thank you for the lovely video, Orion!
I recommend the following course of action for those who are just beginning their careers, or for those like me, who may be reconfiguring midway through: heed the advice of Robert Frost. Start with a big, fat lump in your throat, start with a profound sense of wrong, a deep homesickness, or a crazy love sickness, and run with it. If you imagine less, less will be undoubtedly what you deserve. Do what you love, and don’t stop until you until you get what you love. Work as hard as you can, imagine immensities, don’t compromise, and don’t waste time. Start now, not twenty years from now, not two weeks from now. Now.
I have had the good fortune to tour around Australia recently with Get Reading, talking about Secrets of the Tides and The Shadow Year, meeting lots of readers, booksellers and librarians. I’m not a great fan of public speaking – I’m of the sweaty-palms-thudding-heart category – but the more I do it, the more I enjoy it. Plus it’s incredibly satisfying to speak to people who have not only read your work but also engaged with it on some level.
One of the things I am asked most about is where my ideas come from. Over the course of the tour, my response to this question has become quite automated – I give a quick snapshot of of a place from my childhood that evoked powerful memories in me (Dorset) and talk about my own journey to motherhood, as well as my relocation to Australia … and how the three combined in some magical way to create the seed that grew my first novel, Secrets of the Tides. It’s become such a stock response for me that the other day I found myself wondering if it was even true, or something convenient I was just spouting in public.
So I was amazed (and reassured) when my Mum sent through THIS photo last week.
I haven’t seen this photo for about twenty years and it took my breath away because it could be a scene lifted directly from Secrets of the Tides, right down to the overcast sky, the flapping welly boots, and the craggy cliffs towering in the background. I’m the girl in the foreground in the red boots. I wonder if I’ve just tried to skim a pebble across the waves.
Since I began writing, I’ve come to understand that childhood is a powerful place from which to draw inspiration. Tapping into the truth of an experience and the emotions that surround it … building upon them … letting them grow into a new, fictionalised idea can provide amazing fodder for a writer. It took seeing this photo after all these years to remind me of that and convince me that Secrets of the Tides is a more personal book than even I truly understand.
ps. How funny is that man, slumped on the beach behind us? I hope he’s OK!
Here’s a video made for Get Reading! explaining a little of the ‘story behind the story’ of The Shadow Year…
I am delighted that The Shadow Year has been selected by Get Reading! as one of their top fifty Australian books that ‘you can’t put down’. The new B-format edition will feature the Get Reading! sticker and is available in Australian bookstores now.
Get Reading! is Australia’s largest annual celebration of books and reading. Get Reading! encourages all Australians to pick up a book and simply Get Reading!
As part of Get Reading!’s promotional activities I will be touring Australia in September. You can find out more about my events by clicking here. I hope to meet you on my travels – please come and say ‘hi’. I’d love to meet you.
Check out the full top 50 below …