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. But it took me thirty years to work up the courage to write a complete novel.
I started my first novel at eighteen and in my early twenties, my mum funded a John Marsden writers' 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. Five beautiful, vivacious little bundles of pink who filled my every waking (and sleeping) minute with a chorus of Mummamummamumma. They still fill my every waking and sleeping minute with the same chorus. Just the older version. They are and will always be my most important contribution to the world. Each one, a unique puzzle I get to piece together over a lifetime. Five front stage passes to history.
About halfway through the babies though, 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, I had a humbling client. A teenage girl with all the vitality, intelligence and creativity of someone who would contribute great things 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 novel, THE OTHER SIDE OF TOMORROW. Whilst this was my fourth novel published, it was in fact the first one I wrote.
After three years of writing THE OTHER SIDE OF TOMORROW, I had served an apprenticeship of sorts to myself, and the novelist in me was cemented. 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.
INSIDE THE TIGER went on to receive some serious critical acclaim when it won some fellowships at Varuna the Writers' House, before being shortlisted for the Australian's Vogel Literary Award. INSIDE THE TIGER was then published by Penguin Random House as my debut novel and was thrillingly listed as one of the Children's Book Council of Australia Notable Books.
In 2020, in the midst of nationwide lockdowns, my second novel RUBY TUESDAY was published. I was fortunate enough to be accepted into a residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland in 2018 and in 2019 to work on the manuscript, before RUBY TUESDAY won a Mentorship Residency through the Byron Writers' Festival.
In 2021, I managed to write my third novel, SKIN DEEP, even though I broke my right arm in the middle of a tight writing deadline! I don't know how I managed to finish the novel, but the writing of it excited me when the flow was happening and the creativity flickered and waned like the fire I described in the novel. Somehow though, I did finish the novel, as it now sits on my bookshelf alongside my others!
In 2022, I rewrote THE OTHER SIDE OF TOMORROW and it was published. When my editor first read it and told me I'd made her cry on public transport, I was so thrilled! (Sorry Lorae). Crying means connecting and nothing is sweeter for a writer than that.
Since working on my novels, I've been bombarded with stories desperate to splash onto the page, and little time to write them. But brick by brick, I will write these stories. I've been writing since I was a young child, and I hope to write until the day I no longer can.
So on that note, my fifth YA novel is hitting the shelves in February 2024. WHAT THEY TOLD ME is a very personal story inspired by my work and my home life, as well as the places I have loved.