WQ is proud to present a series of interviews with writers from across Queensland. We have approached novelists, playwrights, freelancers, memoirists, short fiction writers, songwriters, game writers, poets, debuts, old hats, traditionally published authors and self-publishers, and asked each of them the same eleven questions. Read individually, each writer’s answers reveals their unique approach to their craft. Read as a group, broad patterns begin to emerge. All of it to answer the simple question: what is the Queensland Writer’s Life?
New Queensland Writer’s Life interviews will be posted to writingqueensland.com.au on a weekly basis.
Why do you write? What drives you to do this?
Writing is pure escapism, I can take my stories wherever I want. I’ve travelled extensively – some 37 countries – and I love taking my stories back to those destinations. I love the challenge of creating characters that my readers will fall in love with – or hate with a vengeance. I also love the world building side of it. My imagination can take me anywhere.
How did you come to writing?
I have a bucket list with 101 objectives on it. I wrote ‘write a book’ at number 69, I kid you not. My initial motivation was simple. I’m a bookkeeper by day, so numbers are my friend. English was not. I thought the best way to improve my spelling, grammar and vocabulary would be to write a story.
Every birthday and Christmas my husband shakes out my bucket list for inspiration. In 2008 he bought me the Year of the Novel Course at the Queensland Writers Centre. I never imagined how much that course would change my life. On the last Sunday of every month for nearly a year, my teacher, Dr Kim Wilkins, navigated me through the novel writing process. I started in February with a blank page, but by November I’d written 68,000 words and typed THE END. My debut novel Lost in Kakadu was born. It took another 6 years of editing and learning before I was prepared. In 2013 it was published and in 2014 it won Romantic Book of the Year. I fell in love with writing and it’s changed my life.
What were your greatest obstacles starting out? How did you overcome them?
I come from a math background, so my biggest obstacle was learning the craft of writing. I hired a mentor to help me with everything from sentence structure to character arcs and a whole lot more in-between. She cost a lot of money, but I wouldn’t be where I am without her.
How do you keep yourself motivated and disciplined?
I love writing, so keeping motivated isn’t a problem. As far as disciplined goes – I treat it like a job. I sit at my desk at 8am each morning and often work until well into the night.
How do you manage your writing time with everything else you do? How has that changed from when you were starting out?
My husband works interstate 3 to 4 nights each week and I don’t watch any television, so I write every day and most nights too. I also restrict my social media to 45 minutes each morning and 1 hour each night, it’s too easy to get sucked into the social media time warp. When I started writing I also worked full time, so I only wrote 3 to 4 nights each week and sometimes on the weekend.
Where do you write? How do you arrange your working space? What are your essential writing tools?
I write with a laptop, so I make a point of getting up from my desk and writing at different places. I don’t want to be restricted by my working space. I write in the bush, at a coffee shop, on a plane, by the pool. Wherever my laptop goes, I write. I’m constantly trying to improve myself with courses, and self-help books and I’ve surrounded myself with people who help me: My critique partners, my manuscript assessor and my editor. I would never send a book to my publisher until it has been through all these steps.
What’s the one thing you wish you’d known when you were starting out as a writer?
I wish I’d learned how to develop my database sooner. Keeping in contact with my fans is vital.
What do you read and how do you read as a writer?
I’m very eclectic in my reading. I read fiction and non-fiction and everything from crime to romance. I try not to read in the genre I write as I’m worried it will affect my voice. The one thing that has changed is that I pick the books to bits as I read. So I get really disappointed with books containing errors or head hopping. Once upon a time I read every book to the end, not any more though. If it doesn’t grab me by the first three chapters I move on. Life’s too short to read a bad book.
How do you overcome ‘writer’s block’?
I take my wonderful dog, Josie McLuvin for a walk out in the bush. We both benefit from the walk.
What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Turn off the television and write instead – at least 250 words each day. If you need to watch something, watch a movie and analyse it until you work out what works and what doesn’t. Keep an eye out for the pivotal points and really study the dialogue as this will help you improve your voice.♦
Kendall Talbot is an award winning author, thrill seeker and hopeless romantic. She’s travelled to 37 countries and is addicted to wild experiences… white water rafting, scuba diving with sharks and hang gliding are just a few. Her stories reflect her sense of adventure and her love affair with her very own hero.
Published May 11, 2017
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