filed under Author Interviews.

Welcome to a brand new feature on my blog. We have so many talented emerging writers here in Australia who are, with focus and dedication, working on their first books. I want to celebrate these not-yet-published writers and bring them to the attention of more people because I’ve either heard or read pieces of their work and I truly believe that, one day, their book will be for sale in a bookstore near you if they continue to get the encouragement and support they deserve.

To kick off this feature, let me introduce you to Cassie Hamer, from the beautiful Book Birdy blog, and Lauren Chater, from the deliciously divine Well Read Cookie. I had the pleasure of hearing the first few pages of Lauren’s manuscript at the Historical Novels Society Conference earlier in the year and knew instantly it was a very special book, and  I hope you enjoy meeting these talented writers.

Meet Lauren Chater

I had the pleasure of hearing the first few pages of Lauren’s manuscript at the Historical Novels Society Conference earlier in the year and knew instantly it was a very special book. You can find out more about her (and drool over her delicious cookies!) here.

Describe the book you’re working on now.

The Lace Wolf (working title) is a historical fiction novel set in post WW2 Estonia. It’s a novel about two women, one Estonian, one Russian, both working on opposite sides of the Stalinist regime in the lead up to the mass Soviet deportations of 1948. Despite their differences, they form a friendship which is tested by their loyalties to the men they love and the secrets they have concealed in order to survive.

What’s the hardest thing about being an emerging writer?

Convincing people that what you are doing is a worthwhile pursuit; when you’re not generating income yet, people are sometimes quick to dismiss your goals as unimportant or unrealistic. You need to have the confidence to follow your dreams. If you don’t believe in yourself why should anyone else?



What’s the best thing about being an emerging writer?

For me, it’s the sense of belonging that comes from engaging with such a wonderful and welcoming community of other writers. Someone I spoke to at a recent conference said she felt that she has finally ‘found her tribe’. That’s just how I feel when I engage with other writers… those people who have the same writing addiction I do!

New Blog Series: Interviews With Emerging Writers

What’s your writing dream?

Well, like most aspiring authors, it’s my dream to see my book published! But I also want a long career in the industry; I want to hone my craft and tell as many good stories as I can, for as long as I can. Writing just makes my heart sing.

Tell us about your biggest success so far.

Winning the Fiona McIntosh Commercial fiction Scholarship in 2014 through the Clare Valley Writers’ Festival was a huge step for me. Fiona runs these amazing, highly-coveted masterclass courses in Adelaide for emerging writers and she generously offered me a spot after reading my manuscript. It was wonderful to receive that phone call; I had been secretly imagining the scene for weeks while the judges deliberated. It was literally a dream come true. Although I love my story, I had no idea if it was any good or if anyone else would be interested in something as obscure as lacemaking in Estonia in the 1940s. Thankfully, Fiona was!

Which writers inspire you?

I love fiction which has emotional honesty and integrity, so my favourite writers are those who can take something raw – a traumatic childhood accident, an unspeakable tragedy – and transform it into something which rings with hope, beauty and the courage of the human spirit. I adore the works of Geraldine Brooks and Toni Morrison, Kate Forsyth and Tracey Chevalier and of course Fiona McIntosh.

What’s your one piece of advice to other emerging writers?

Invest wisely in your future. Research the best writing courses, ask friends for recommendations on courses they have done, join your friendly local writers’ centre as they run many affordable workshops, some of which can be accessed online. Learning about your craft from wise teachers who have walked the same path as you is so important. The money you spend is an investment which will pay dividends in the future and you will also meet amazing authors who will become your mentors and friends on the long, sometimes arduous path to completing your novel.

Share a paragraph from your book with us.

I saw my wolf again last night. I say ‘mine’ but of course she no more belongs to me than the wind which rattles through the ash trees or the soggy fields surrounding our house where people buried their belongings in haste before they fled the Nazis, the Russians or both. Tarnished cutlery, a child’s soiled leather shoes, a bound journal of spotty, dog-eared photographs. The churned earth spits up their treasures after a heavy rain as if to say ‘You see? Nothing stays buried forever.’

Lauren Chater, The Lace Wolf

Meet Cassie Hamer

I read Cassie’s beautiful short story The Life in her Hands, which was published in the anthology The Trouble With Flying last year and loved Cassie’s writing. You can find out more about her, and read her excellent book reviews and author interviews, here.

Describe the book you’re working on now.

Dark Matter is a work of contemporary fiction that asks – can you ever truly know your loved ones? I would (in braver moments!) liken it to Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret, though Dark Matter is probably darker in tone.

The back cover blurb would read something like this – It will take a tragedy to uncover a family’s deepest secrets.

What’s the hardest thing about being an emerging writer?

The hardest thing is giving yourself permission to take your writing seriously. I have three young children and there are a million other more productive things I could be doing instead of writing. However, the creative process gives me a level of satisfaction I can’t explain. It relieves my restlessness in a way that nothing else can. So, while it may seem a selfish pursuit, I would argue that writing actually makes me a better mother/wife/person.

What’s the best thing about being an emerging writer?

The best thing is the freedom. I can write what I want, when I want, and I’m answerable to no one but myself. The pressure is entirely self-imposed. I suspect that changes once one has an agent, a publisher and a readership to answer to.

New Blog Series: Interviews With Emerging Writers

What’s your writing dream?

To write a book of which I can be proud, and to have that book published to a receptive audience.

Tell us about your biggest success so far.

For the past two years, I have had stories published in the Margaret River Press’ annual short story anthology. While I write chiefly for the satisfaction of writing, there is no doubt that seeing your story in print, in such a substantial thing as a book, is a great thrill. Not only that, the anthology has brought me in touch with a writing community which I find to be thoroughly generous and supportive.

Which writers inspire you?

This may sound bad, but I’m like a leech when it comes to finding inspiration. If the writing is good, I will latch on and draw from it whatever I can; the identity of the author is almost incidental. If I don’t like the writing, I don’t persist. Life is too short. I do read a lot – mainly the work of female Australian writers, both new and established. But I traverse genres. Over the past year, I’ve loved books by Helen Garner, Liane Moriarty and Stephanie Bishop – all very different writers, but each brilliant in their own way. Books like theirs makes me want to shout about them, which is the main reason I started my blog, Book Birdy.

What’s your one piece of advice to other emerging writers?

At the risk of sounding like a sportswear ad here, my advice is – JUST DO IT. Swoosh! Attach your bottom to the chair, get tapping, and at some point, put your writing out there. Rejection and critical feedback can be hard to cop but it’s the expressway to improvement. For me, the fear of regret is much stronger than the fear of rejection. I don’t want to get to eighty years of age and regret not having tried.

Share a paragraph from your book with us.

This is a very short excerpt but it captures the kind of detail I love in writing. It’s taken from a scene where a 15 year old boy is sitting in church and struggling to concentrate on what’s being said.

It wasn’t worth listening to. Instead, Joe concentrated on counting the vertebra in his spine. The pew was so hard that if he curled his back in and out, he could feel each knobbly bit of back-knuckle.
‘What are you doing?’ whispered his aunt.
‘Nothing.’ He’d counted six vertebrae but knew there were more.

Cassie Hamer, Dark Matter

I hope you enjoyed meeting today’s writers and that you loved the short extracts from their books as much as I did. I plan to run this feature about 4 times a year, so if you know an emerging writer who you think I should feature, let me know in the comments.

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18 Responses to “New Feature: Meet 2 Australian Emerging Writers”

  1. Monique Mulligan

    Terrific interviews, Natasha.

    I love Cassie’s advice – Just do it. She’s so right.

    The excerpts make me want more! Cassie, I can completely relate to the sitting on a hard church pew so this worked for me. I used to go through the hymnbook and count how many I knew. As for Lauren’s, the turn of phrase is beautiful.

    Reply
  2. Marina Sofia

    Excellent new feature, Natasha – I very much enjoyed meeting these new authors and wish them the very best. I agree, it’s so hard to ‘justify’ writing to yourself and others when you are not published yet and not seeing any money.

    Reply
    • Natasha Lester

      Thanks Marina. I remember so well when I was starting out that any small piece of encouragement helped so much so I hope this gives some writers, somewhere, some encouragement to keep going.

      Reply
  3. Renee

    I love this feature. I’m about a third of the way into the messy first draft of my first novel and it was so nice to read some working on it stories instead of success stories. I’ll keep am eye out for these books in the future too.

    Reply
  4. Jo Carter

    This article is a fantastic idea! As an unpublished writer of fiction I sometimes find it hard to think of ways to promote myself. I’d be very interested in taking part in this series – my website is http://www.writerjocarter.com if you’d like to know more information about me 🙂

    Reply
  5. Karen

    Thanks, Natasha, for introducing us to Cassie and Lauren – I would love to read their books! It is really encouraging to know that there are other emerging writers out there who also struggle with devoting so much time to something when it takes you away from your family and doesn’t earn any income. It’s all about faith, isn’t it – maybe I’m thinking along Cassie’s church pew lines!

    Reply
    • Natasha Lester

      Thanks Karen – I agree. It is much nicer to know that there are others out there who are in the same boat. So glad you enjoyed the interviews.

      Reply
  6. Jodi Gibson (@jfgibsonwriter)

    What a lovely idea Natasha. I hope to be able to read both Cassie & Lauren’s books one day. I love nothing more than listening to or reading about authors in all stages of their careers. You can learn so much from them, so thank you for sharing them. Look forward to more.

    Reply
    • Natasha Lester

      Thanks Jodi – glad you enjoyed the post. I too hope we see both of their books in a bookstore one day soon. Hopefully, I’ll have another couple of interviews to share in a few months’ time.

      Reply
  7. Sally Hall

    Hi Natasha,
    I enjoy reading all your posts but especially those with tips or information for unpublished writers on the intricacies of the publishing industry. I think you are incredibly generous with your time and this post to promote two emerging writers proves it.
    I would be grateful for the opportunity to be interviewed one day in the future. My website is http://www.sallyhall.com.au and my blog is http://sallyphall.blogspot.com.au/.
    Best wishes,
    Sally

    Reply

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