Today I’d like to welcome to the blog Rural Fiction Author, Jennifer Scoullar.
Jennifer’s second novel, Currawong Creek has just been released.
Isn’t the cover gorgeous?
Heartfelt and passionate rural romance from the bestselling author of Brumby’s Run.
‘When Brisbane lawyer Clare Mitchell finds herself the unlikely guardian of a small troubled boy, her ordered life is turned upside down. In desperation, she takes Jack to stay at Currawong Creek, her grandfather’s horse stud in the foothills of the beautiful Bunya Mountains.
Being at Currawong takes some getting used to, but it also feels like coming home. Her grandad adores having them there. Jack falls in love with the animals, his misery banished and Clare finds herself falling hard for the kind, handsome local vet.
But trouble is coming, in the form of the Pyramid Mining Company. Trouble that threatens to destroy not only Clare’s newfound happiness, but also the livelihoods of her new neighbours, and the peace and beauty of the land she loves.’
Thanks so much for visiting Flying Pony Jennifer and Congratulations on the release of Currawong Creek.
1. What activities (other than writing) get your creative juices flowing?
Reading, definitely. Reading cross-pollinates the imagination. I always have both a fiction and non-fiction book on the go. Currently I’m reading The Grapes Of Wrath by John Steinbeck, and My Droving Days by Peter and Shirley Moore. Apart from reading, riding my horse, gardening and walking are great inspirations.
2. What sort of writing routine do you have – disciplined or undisciplined, regular or erratic, focused or easily distracted?
My writing routine is a bit of a hotch-potch. I’m disciplined in that I write every day, pretty much without fail. But when and for how long, depends on what else is going on. And I’d struggle to write more than a thousand words, even on a good day. Other people’s daily word counts amaze me! When I do write I’m quite focused, apart from the normal distractions of email, Twitter and Facebook of course. Writing is a lonely game though, and social media stops me from feeling isolated.
3. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and if so what do you do about it?
I don’t believe in writer’s block. A traveler who doesn’t know what road to take doesn’t announce she has traveler’s block. She just says she’s lost. I think it’s the same for writers. If I run out of words, it’s because the story has a problem. I may have written myself into a corner, for example. Then I’ll read, and allow another imagination to spark off my own. Someone famous once said show me a writer that’s not reading, and I’ll show you a writer that’s not writing. And I think the more you worry that you have writer’s block, the more paralysed you will become. So I’ll rearrange my plot and forge on without being too self-critical. I’ll have to rewrite anyway. Justice Louis Brandeis said way back in 1896, “There is no great writing, only great rewriting.” And I always try to remember that the worst thing I write, is going to be way better than the best thing, that I don’t.
4. Which aspects of the writing life do you most love?
I love the writing process – the rhythm of the prose, the pleasure of getting a sentence just right and the way that everything happens exactly the way I want it to in my imaginary world. Being a bit of a loner, the solitary nature of writing suits me. Second drafts are my absolute favourites. For me, A first draft is like manufacturing a canvas. The real work can only begin once it’s complete. That said, there’s something very liberating about writing that first draft, when all possibilities are still on the table.
5. Which aspects do you least love (or detest!)?
6. What books and writers have most influenced your own writing?
My earliest and most defining influence was Elyne Mitchell and her Silver Brumby series. Nancy Cato’s All The River’s Run, Henry Handel Richardson’s The Fortunes Of Richard Mahony and Ruth Park’s The Harp In The South are great favourites. Among contemporary Australian authors I particularly love Helene Young, Nicole Alexander and Andrea Goldsmith. I adore John Steinbeck … and the great nature writers of course. Walden by Paul Theroux for example, and Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey.
7. Can you describe for us your writing process, from getting the original idea to completed manuscript?
A new idea will be brewing while I’m writing my current manuscript. I always give myself a month or so in between finishing one and starting another, to let the story percolate. In a valiant attempt to be a plotter, I write as many plot points as I can down on index cards, and put them into some kind of order. They go up on my cork board, and I try to organise them into a three act structure. After that I launch into the story. I write in a linear fashion, from start to finish, and my organised plot goes out the window.
I’ve tried writing programs, like Scrivener, but always come back to Word. When the first draft is finished, I have a break to get some distance from the story and then begin my favourite bit – the second draft. Publishing deadlines always catch up with me here, but I usually have time for a final third draft polish before I submit to my publisher.
8. Describe your path to publication.
I submitted a manuscript to a small Melbourne publisher in 2008. They published Wasp Season, and on the strength of that success, I snagged myself an agent – Fran Moore of Curtis Brown. My big break came at the 2011 RWA conference. I pitched Brumby’s Run to Belinda Byrne of Penguin, and within eight weeks I had a contract.
9. What advice would you give to writers who are working towards publication?
– Work on your craft. Read a lot. Be persistent. Don’t compare yourself unfavourably to other writers. Comparisons in any field can act as sabotage, and no more so than with creative writing.
– Research the publishing industry. Join your state writer’s centre. Join a writing group.
– Most importantly, follow your passions. A good writer, writes from the heart. If you truly believe that your story must be told, that passion will come through the pages and grip us, as readers. We’ll care about your characters, suffer with them, hate them and love them. So my best advice is to honour your convictions, whatever they may be. Let them power your story. Let them challenge your readers, and make your story worth the telling. Care a lot about the subject of your writing, and it will show. Publishers want to see that emotion on the page.
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