It took me thirty years to realise I had to write. Sure, I'd always written. Since I was four and copying out the pages of my favourite Spot books, I'd written. Throughout primary school, I smashed out creative stories and to this day, my journals still begin with "Dear Diary". Old habits, right? But it took me thirty years to realise that I wanted to write novels. Like seriously knuckle down and do it.
I started my first novel at eighteen and after a few years of working on it, my mum funded a John Marsden writer's retreat at the beautiful Tye Estate which changed my life. It was there that I found my clan. The place I fitted in this crazy, busy world. People who understood characters who walked onto your page and chattered incessantly in your thoughts.
But then I got busy having babies. Five of them, to be precise. Five beautiful, vivacious little bundles of pink who filled my every waking (and sleeping) minute with a chorus of Mummamummamummamumma ... you get my drift. They still fill my every waking and sleeping minute with the same chorus. They are and will always be my best work. My most important contribution to the world. Each one a unique puzzle I get to piece together over a lifetime of shared moments. I get five front stage passes to history.
About halfway through the babies, I turned thirty and realised quite shockingly, that nobody was going to write a novel for me. Even more shockingly, nobody but me cared if I never wrote one. My parents loved me regardless, as did my husband and children. If it was going to happen, it would only be because I somehow carved out the time to sit down and write one.
So I got to work on a new story. In my days as a solicitor (which were short-lived and squashed between finishing my law degree and having babies), I had a humbling client. A teenage girl who is with me still, ten years after her death. With all the vitality, intelligence and creativity of someone who was going to contribute to the world. Only this girl had neuroblastoma, an aggressive disease that forced her to confront the fact that she no longer had a future. How does a teenage girl accept that? How do her parents? It was exploring these questions that inspired my first novel, The Other Side of Tomorrow.
After three years of writing The Other Side, I had served an apprenticeship of sorts to myself, and the writer in me was cemented. There was no turning back. So in 2016, I finished my second manuscript, Inside the Tiger, about a teenage girl who writes to a death row prisoner in Thailand and falls for him, destroying them both. My own experience writing to and visiting a death row prisoner in Thailand, was the inspiration for this story. The silent horror of life inside prison compelled me to give a voice to people enduring this reality.
Since working on my novels, I've been bombarded with stories whizzing through my brain, desperate to splash out onto the page, and little time to write them. But brick by brick, I will write these stories. My two goals are to live long enough to:
1. Write my next three novels (this may increase as new ideas present); 2. See my baby turn eighteen (or preferably, my youngest grandchild, but that may be a little greedy).
Who knows, one day the writing may just be enough to make a living off. But if it's not, and just one person is changed for reading one of my manuscripts, then that's enough too.