“It suits me for now. Everything’s just a quick walk away – the best libraries, research facilities, museums, art galleries, performing arts centres. I love it. But I do enjoy the beach every chance I get.”
In addition to being a published author, avid blogger and traveler, Denise hosts writing competitions for other writers and is planning an anthology. To learn more, you can visit one of her blogs mentioned in the interview below.
First of all, thank you so much Sylvia for inviting me to your blog today. I’m more than happy to answer your questions.
SYLVIA: How did you develop an interest in writing?
DENISE: I’ve always been a bookworm and loved English at school. By the time I was 11 I had a story published in our local paper so that inspired me no end.
SYLVIA: Tell me a little about your blogs - addresses, how long you've been blogging etc.
DENISE: I began blogging when I returned from my last overseas trip in 2008. I wanted a place to write about my travels (one of my goals is to write a travel narrative.) I’d just given up full-time high school teaching and decided my next phase of life was to be devoted to writing.
I used to call myself TrainsandBoatsandPlanes. My first post was about being robbed in Italy. I spent so much time writing that post and adding photos I’d taken and still love it even though I don’t think anyone else actually read it. It’s right at the bottom of my L’Aussie posts if you’d like to be the first, ha ha.
I have several blogs. Last year I decided my writing blog, L’Aussie Writing (http://laussieswritingblog.blogspot.com/) was getting very cluttered so I decided to have different blogs for different aspects of my writing.
My other blogs are:
http://laussiestravelblog.blogspot.com for my travel stories/photos. Here I wrote daily posts during the recent A – Z Challenge so there are many exotic destinations to check out. I’m currently posting my travel itinerary and research for my next trip – France – Spain – Morocco…
http://pichetsinparis.blogspot.com devoted to my regular travels, stories and book reviews.
http://flashquake.blogspot.com dedicated to my #fridayflash stories most Fridays.
I also collaborate on a book review blog, Reading at Dawn, with Dawn Embers and Writers Block NZ. Its address is: http://readingatdawn.blogspot.com. I post a review every fortnight.
DENISE: I am actually working on two ms’s (when I’m not blogging, ha ha.) Both are stories I wrote during NaNoWriMo’s madness. My story ideas come from my travels and general people watching skills. I have a lot of cultural interchange in my novels – that’s what always drew me to the old Mills and Boon plots – exotic locales, clash of cultures… My stories I believe are good stories, but they still need a lot of editing. I try to be working on one of them at all times (in between blogging and other projects like short story writing and flash fiction.) Hopefully I will be finished editing at least one before NaNoWriMo this November. I love NaNoWriMo for getting words on the page, it’s what comes after that hurts.
SYLVIA: What styles do you write - genre novels, poetry, articles, memoirs etc.
DENISE: My first love is short story writing which I have published in Australian magazines. I always have several on the go and they usually feature gutsy strong women. The ones that gather dust are often reinvented for blogfests. Both of my novels lean towards the romance genre, but my second is romance suspense, not Mills & Boon style. I also have written and published travel articles and as I say I am burning to get a travel narrative underway but it’ll have to wait until I return from my next overseas trip (June/July this year.) More research. I love it.
SYLVIA: Is this a hobby or do you plan to make a career from writing?
DENISE: Hard to say. I’d love it to be a career but I’m juggling too much at the moment. I would love to dedicate more time to writing, but like most people, I have a lot of other responsibilities.
SYLVIA: What authors do you admire?
DENISE: The list would be endless, but my favourites who come to mind are Anita Shreve, Pat Conroy, Jodi Picoult, Frances Mayes (and many other travel narrative writers), Paullina Simons, Lisa See, and oldies but goodies like Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway and F Scott Fitzgerald.
SYLVIA: What music, places, people inspire you?
DENISE: I love 60’s music – the Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkle etc, Enya, U2 and most anthem rockers. I’m inspired by the beach, Europe, Australia’s wide open spaces.
SYLVIA: What do you do when you have writer's block?
DENISE: I don’t really suffer from this malady. If the words aren’t flowing I’ll take myself off the computer and go for a walk, read a book, have a coffee. By the time I sit down for a coffee, the notebook is out again.
SYLVIA: Have you submitted anything yet? Even a letter to an editor, written for high school publications, other blogs etc?
DENISE: Yes, I should submit more as I have files full of work ready to send off. I regularly submit to a woman’s fiction magazine in Australia and have been accepted there. I’ve had articles/photos published in Australian travel magazines, and regularly write new stories for #fridayflash fiction which I publish most Fridays. Writing book reviews is something else I do. I’ve had reviews published on bookseratz and now contribute to the book review site, Reading at Dawn.
SYLVIA: How long did it take you to write your current MS?
DENISE: One month during NaNoWriMo, but it will take me a year to rewrite, edit and polish.
SYLVIA: Are you part of a critique group or writer's guild?
DENISE: No, sadly. I was a member of the Australian Writers Guild but not anymore. I’m not really a joiner but I guess I should be (((sighs))). But I do swap critiques with other trusted blogger friends. Any offers?
SYLVIA: Have you ever attended a writer's conference?
DENISE: No, not officially, but when the Brisbane Writer’s Conference is on (just across the road from me), I go over and do a bit of meeting and greeting and buy a truckload of books. Each year I promise myself I’ll put my name down for the sessions I’m interested in before they’re booked out.
SYLVIA: When working on your current MS did you complete an outline first or did you just start writing?
DENISE: I had a pretty good idea of most of the outline before I started. I also knew my main characters well before I put my fingers to the keyboard. My first novel was pretty much written pantser style. I tried to go through the whole outline process, character interviews etc for the second, but still ended up being a pantser rather than a plotter.
SYLVIA: What is your writing process like? Certain hours that you find more productive, a routine, a set amount of time or a number of pages you make yourself write everyday etc.
DENISE: I work as an English tutor most afternoons/evenings (gotta keep working if I want to keep travelling), so I get up at 6 am every day and can get hours of writing done on an uninterrupted day. I drink gallons of tea and water, and get up regularly for snacks or go for a walk and sit in the sun awhile. I come back inspired. It’s a sad day when I can’t write anything due to other commitments. Sometimes I get good short story ideas whilst waiting for my students and they often find me scratching away in my notebook when they arrive.
SYLVIA: Do you have an editor or agent?
DENISE: No I don’t. I haven’t gone looking for one, but I did have a call from an American editor last Christmas when I was up at the beach. I’m still tossing emails back and forth with her. Who knows where it will lead?
SYLVIA: Would you care to share your opening paragraph (hook) with us?
DENISE: Yes. Okay. If you’re game. Here’s the opening paragraph of my 2010 NaNoWriMo novel, The Search for the last Cowboy. If anyone would like to critique it, please feel free…I need to get back to it…
Looking back on the day, she had no idea it would be the last time she would ever be truly happy. If she’d known, she would have spent time soaking up the sight of her freshly-hung white voile curtains flapping in the morning breeze. She would have relished the perfect blueness of the spring sky, inhaled the aroma of the freshly-mown grass. She would have listened more closely to the birdsong. She would have stepped through the trees to the beach and watched the delicate waves breaking against the soft, pale sand. She would have run along the beach, feeling the squelch of wet sand through her toes. She would have done all those things and more if she had known what was about to happen.
|Knocking on Hemingway's door in Paris|
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
At a very early age. I began winning writing competitions when I was eleven. Then as I got older I kept thinking I didn't have enough life experience to write anything worthy, so I went out to get it. University degrees, Creative Writing courses, High School teaching...travelling. I started novels, researched novels, but always felt too immature to tackle the issues I wanted to write about. It's only in the last few years that I've wanted more from my writing than writing flash fiction online, and short stories, travel articles and profile pieces for magazines and newspapers.
Hmm, I still feel too immature.I know you love to travel, what is the most amazing place you've ever visited?
|At the highest point of the Sahara Desert in Morocco with my Toureg guides|
I'm sure all your travels give you plenty of ideas to write about, but what inspires you the most?
That would be 'who'. People. I don't just thirst for travel just to see different things. Meeting the locals is my favourite part. But the more countries I visit, the more people I meet, I understand that humans are basically the same with similar needs and aspirations. Landscapes inspire me. Literature inspires me. I find life inspirational.
Beautiful sentiments. I see you have a couple novels in progress. Which one do you spend most of your time on? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Yes, I have three novel in progress. I had to decide which one to finish first or I'll never finish any of them, so I've chosen my first novel, Ruby. All my novels include other cultures, issues, and things I've learned from my travels. Ruby is a contemporary romantic novel whose heroine is a young French girl who has come to Australia to follow her dream of owning her own hotel, a dream inherited from her father. The hero, Michael is an Australian sea captain who takes tourists whale watching, but his dream is to assist in the whale hunt, but on the side of the Sea Shepherd crew, whose aim is to inhibit the Japanese whalers in Antarctica. Conflicting dreams make this story.
What a great way to share your experiences. It sounds like a wonderful story. I'm looking forward to reading more.
Speaking of reading, what books have influenced you the most?
My favourite genre is literary fiction, but my tastes are eclectic. I love to read just about anything, really. As far as the most influential, Ernest Hemingway, Papa, has been my favourite since I moved beyond Heidi as a young girl. Maybe Hemingway's stories fed my urge to travel and my tendency to observe people. (I wasn't influenced by his hard drinking, lol!)
That's good! He did love his drink.
That's good! He did love his drink.
Last year I finally got to Pamplona in Spain, where he set his The Sun Also Rises. Can't explain the thrill of seeing the things he saw. I even blogged about a walking tour around Paris I took, Moveable Feast in hand, to see his Paris apartment and the square where he liked to eat and the coffee shops where he went to drink rum. I think the best writing advice ever, comes from Hemingway - write all morning, then go and rub shoulders with authors and people watch all afternoon and night. Read his Moveable Feast for that and other writing gems.
I just finished A Farewell to Arms, but I'll have to add A Moveable Feast to my list. I wonder if blogging counts as 'rubbing shoulders with authors'.
You have three great blogs. How long have you been blogging and what is the best part about it?
I started blogging in 2007 when I saw a competition for the best travel blog post. Five years is a long time in the blogosphere, where bloggers burn out in an average of three years or decide other social networking groups are more efficient. But blogging is my favourite, although it's very time consuming.
The best part of blogging is the people I've met and the things I've learnt about writing. Knowing how I love to travel, I have invitations from bloggers from all around the world to come and stay. Who can beat that? Currently I'm spending 6 weeks in Fiji, courtesy of blogger Nas Dean, who I met online years ago and formed a strong blogger friendship. Another favourite blogger, Charmaine Clancy, recently moved to my hometown, Brisbane, and we've hit it off so well we now have our own Writing Group and are collaborating on our first epic fantasy novel in between doing writing courses at the Queensland Writers Centre, the best one in the country. Can't beat the blogosphere!
That's for sure. There are so many wonderful people blogging!
But 6 weeks in Fiji! I'm a little jealous.
What do you like to do when you're not writing or traveling?
I like to run, to read, try a new restaurant, go for coffee, watch television and movies, and spend time with family and friends. Pretty ordinary. That's when I'm not checking out Lonely Planet.
Is there anything else we should know about you?
Well, I'm a political animal and a news junkie but I usually keep quiet about that as in these PC times, you aren't supposed to talk about politics. I can probably blame Hemingway for nurturing my strong political opinions as he wrote so much about war. I especially enjoyed his novels that explored the Spanish Civil War. I always have the 24-hour news on at home, so I usually know what's going on in most places around the globe, or at least the sanitised version. No listening to music while I write! It's a wonder my stories aren't pessimistic, but they're not. I'm a very optimistic person.
You're also very inspiring. I can't wait to get out and travel again myself. Well we're out of time for today. Thank you Denise for stopping by, I really enjoyed getting to know you and good luck finishing Ruby.
Thanks so much.
SO that's it everyone. Be sure to check out all of Denise's blogs.
SO that's it everyone. Be sure to check out all of Denise's blogs.