Why did you decide to submit your short stories for publication?
There comes a point for every writer I think where the goal is to be published and, as a result of that, to be read by people other than your family, friends or writing buddies. I needed a project to focus on - I decided putting together a short story collection might be a good way to get my first solo publication "under my belt" so to speak. I knew other writers who had done it and decided "I can do that too!" and went for it.
Reflections is your first published book, how did it feel when it book was accepted by Ginninderra Press?
I had to read the email a few times to let it sink in. I was relieved in a way because I knew I had put a lot of effort in to the collection and it was gratifying to have it accepted for publication. There was still work to do though. The editor gave me feedback on some of the stories that he thought weren't working as well as others. It was a wonderful process working together with an editor to make the work the best it could be.
What tips do you have for writers who hope to, one day, have their books or short stories published?
Persistence! Don't give up. Writing is like anything else you want to learn to do well - you must practice, get into the habit of writing regularly, and be prepared to redraft your work. Don't generalise - it's the specific details that bring your writing to life. Write! I know that seems simple, but to be a writer you must cultivate that habit or you'll find that doing the washing has sudden appeal. Even writing badly is better than not writing at all - you can redraft and edit bad writing. Be brave! Once you have worked on a piece, taking it from a first draft to a well-crafted piece of poetry, fiction, or non-fiction, send it out. Find the magazine that fits your piece of writing and submit it. If they say no, and you're sure it's the best it can be, and then send it out again to a different magazine. Keep good records.
Where does the title, Reflections, come from?
Reflections is the title of one of the stories in the collection, but it's not as simple as that. I got to thinking about the way I write, the process, the things that spark ideas and, sometimes when I'm lucky enough, fully formed stories. I think as writers what we are often doing is holding a mirror up to the world, capturing a moment, a snapshot in time and recording it. Not literally, though it can be that way sometimes, but what we think or feel about it. Perception is a funny thing. No two people will see the same event in the same way, and how we see it will say something about us. That's why writing takes courage, because that mirror that we hold up will inevitably show something of ourselves as well.
What are your future writing goals?
I dream of being a novelist. I'm struggling along at the moment writing a novel that may not even want to be written. It's an historic novel set in Melbourne in the late 1800s. I say it might not even want to be written because I'm trying to tell the story of a real person, a girl who immigrated from Ireland to Australia with her parents, and it might not be my story to tell. Having invested months in research and five months writing, I will persevere to at least finish the first draft. Then I will reassess and decide if the project is one I should continue with. I also have an incomplete draft of a fantasy novel in my filing cabinet that I am keen to get back to when the time is right. Whatever direction I decide to take in the future, I will be writing. I have come to understand that writing is a way of life for me, it's something that I can't "not" do.