The Writer’s Gospel according to Matt Haig

reasons-to-stay-aliveReasons to Stay Alive

by Matt Haig

‘I want life. I want to read it and write it and feel it and live it. I want, for as much of the time as possible in this blink-of-an-eye existence we have, to feel all that can be felt. I hate depression. I am scared of it. Terrified, in fact. But at the same time, it has made me who I am. And if – for me – it is the price of feeling life, it’s a price always worth paying’..

Reasons to Stay Alive is about making the most of your time on earth. In the western world the suicide rate is highest amongst men under the age of 35. Matt Haig could have added to that statistic when, aged 24, he found himself staring at a cliff-edge about to jump off.

This is the story of why he didn’t, how he recovered and learned to live with anxiety and depression. It’s also an upbeat, joyous and very funny exploration of how to live better, love better, read better and feel more.

Grab a copy of Reasons to Stay Alive here

British study reveals author, librarian and academic three most desirable careers

WritingBooklovers know it, and it appears the rest of the world is starting to catch on.

A bookish job is a great job!

The “aura of prestige” connected with a career in writing or academia is preferable to jobs that brought promises of wealth and celebrity status, according to a survey conducted by UK market research firm Yougov with more than 14,000 respondents.

Being an author was the most popular choice among both men and women, with more than 60 per cent selecting it as their dream job. It was followed by a career as a librarian (54 per cent) and in academia (51 per cent). Lawyers came in fourth place, with journalism in sixth behind interior design.

Writing Paper Planes – The Movie And The Book (a Guest Blog from author Steve Worland)

Author Steve Worland

Writing a novel is more difficult than writing a screenplay.

Why do I think this?

Two words.

Word count.

My three action novels run between eighty to one hundred thousand words each. A typical screenplay? Twenty thousand, if that. I had one horror script come in at sixteen thousand a few years back. So, obviously, that means the time investment is very different too, about a year for a book versus three months for a screenplay, though if you get your skates on you should probably knock it over a lot quicker than that.

Also the prose of a screenplay is much simpler than a novel. Scripts are all about being brief and succinct. You want it to be easy to read so there’s no reason for a producer to put it down and move on to the next project on the pile. And it’s not like you need much description anyway, unless you’re detailing an important element of the story. If the hero drives a ‘beaten up ute’ then that’s all you need to write. Any more description is superfluous. The director and production designer will do the rest.

Now what about money I hear you ask. Yes, screenwriting pays quite well, certainly compared to what you make if you’re a first time novelist.

So why would you ever write anything but a screenplay?

quickBecause getting a novel published by a major house, as difficult as it is, and it is extremely difficult, is a whole lot easier than getting a movie made, even one with a low budget. Getting any movie into production is, in its own way, a miracle. And if you write action adventure stories like me, which cost a fortune to produce, well, it’s even harder. I can write anything in a novel, a formula one car driving at three hundred kilometres per hour, upside down, on the roof of a French motorway tunnel (that’s in Quick, my latest book by the way), or a Space Shuttle landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (that’s in Velocity, my first book) and not have to worry about the cost. In a movie those sequences would have a producer in your ear immediately: ‘I mean — does it really need to be a Space Shuttle, Steve? We have enough money for a Cessna. Can it be a Cessna?’

And then there is control. As a novelist you have a great deal and can mostly do as you please, though I would always urge new writers to listen to the sage advice of their experienced editors, publishers and agents, whereas in the film business the screenwriter is the low man on the totem pole whose importance to the project falls somewhere after the director, the producer, the other producer, the other other producer (who is often the first producer’s half brother) and, always, the star. A big part of your job as a screenwriter is to juggle the disparate story and character ideas of that group and then finesse a solution that will make the script work and everyone happy.

This was something that, when I was starting out as a screenwriter, I enjoyed. I loved to take stories from the page to the screen. But the reality is that you don’t get a chance to make a movie very often and when you do it can take a long time before you see it at the cinema. You are lucky to get one made every couple of years. You can be writing all the time but the percentage of screenplays that actually get up is extremely low. So that means you can write an amazing story but if the German tax money falls through or the star is offered something more lucrative or the director bails over creative differences with the producer (and his half brother) the movie can keel over. The thing about screenplays is that you can write something you think is wonderful and, literally, no more than eight people may ever read it. Screenplays, unfortunately, don’t have value to the public as reading material, unless somebody wants to see how one’s written so they can write their own.

paper-planesSo, considering this screenplay/novel conundrum, it was interesting that with my latest project I had the opportunity to write both. A screenplay and a novel, in that order. It often happens the other way around but not with Paper Planes, an idea my co-writer and the film’s director Rob Connolly had a number of years ago. At the time we both had young children who, we realised, had not seen any Australian children’s films. (It was before Red Dog). That was a shock to us because, when we were kids growing up in the 70s and 80s, we saw Australian films regularly, everything from Storm Boy to Crocodile Dundee to The Man From Snowy River to BMX Bandits to Fatty Finn to Blue Fin. They were a part of our lives.

But that wasn’t the case with our daughters. For many reasons, some economic, some creative, some cultural, Australian films don’t have that kind of traction in the marketplace any more. So we wanted to see if we could change that and offer up a genuinely entertaining family film for an Australian audience. After all, if Aussie kids aren’t watching Aussie movies when they’re young how can we expect them to watch them as adults?

So it was my job to not only co-write the screenplay but to novelise it into a book children would embrace. There were two major jobs to do: flesh out the prose from the succinct and sparse language of the screenplay and find a writing style that kids could hook into.

As the Paper Planes movie runs ninety minutes you only have time to include the most exciting and emotionally satisfying parts of the story, so the aim of the Paper Planes novel is to give the readers the hero’s journey — a young Aussie bloke making new friends, clashing with powerful rivals and coming to terms with his family’s past as he attempts to create a paper plane that will compete with the best in the world — then flesh out the characters and backstory to add a little more depth while making sure the story is a satisfying read for those who haven’t (yet!) seen the film.

SamI’ve been writing action adventure novels for adults for the last couple of years so I though writing a book for young readers would be a doddle. I was so wrong. It was a real challenge to alter my style. I really had to stretch. Mainly I was mindful that I didn’t want to speak down to the kids. I also had to make sure my cultural references are spot on. It ultimately came down to practice. Doesn’t it always? Thankfully I had a wonderful team at Penguin Young Readers to guide me and point out the pitfalls before I stumbled into any large, unseen crevices.

One element of the process I didn’t realise would take so long and be so complex was organising the book’s ‘added extras’, specifically the section of colour photos from the film. For some reason I thought it would be simple but getting clearances from all the actors and photographers was a huge undertaking that took months. The book’s other ‘added extras’ include a Q&A with the Rob who talks about directing the film and a foreword by the film’s star Ed Oxenbould (whose uncle was the lead in the aforementioned Fatty Finn, if you can believe it). My favourite ‘added extra’ in the book are the folding and throwing instructions for a paper plane. There’s something about seeing the film that makes you want to fly a paper plane immediately, so hopefully the readers will feel the same after they finish the book.

As I said before, movies take a long while to get made so by the time Paper Planes hits theatres on January 15th, Rob and my daughters will be four years older than the little girls who inspired us to tell the story in the first place.

Even though they’re approaching their teens we’re sure they’ll love the movie, and the book, as much as we do.

Grab your copy of Steve Worland’s Paper Planes here

—————————————–

Steve Worland co-wrote the screenplay for the Australian family film Paper Planes with its director Robert Connolly, whose previous work includes Tim Winton’s The Turning and Balibo.

Steve has written scripts for Working Title and Icon Productions, worked in script development for James Cameron’s Lightstorm, wrote Fox Searchlight’s Bootmen, which won five Australian Film Institute awards and worked on the Hugo award winning sci-fi series Farscape.

He is the author of the action-adventure novels Velocity, Combustion and Quick and recently novelised Paper Planes.

For more from Steve, check out his website www.steveworland.com, and catch him on twitter at @StevenWorland

—————————————–

paper-planesPaper Planes

by Steve Worland

One paper plane flies straight and fast and true. Dylan’s.

Twelve-year-old Dylan Webber lives in outback Western Australia in a small country town. When he discovers he has a talent for folding and flying paper planes, Dylan begins a journey to reach the World Junior Paper Plane Championships in Japan.

Along the way he makes unlikely new friends, clashes with powerful rivals and comes to terms with his family’s past before facing his greatest challenge – to create a paper plane that will compete with the best in the world.

Steve Worland brings you the exciting, heartwarming story of Paper Planes, adapted from the award-winning family film that features a cast of Australia’s finest actors, including Sam Worthington, Deborah Mailman, David Wenham and Ed Oxenbould.

Grab your copy of Steve Worland’s Paper Planes here

Sharon Penman, author of A King’s Ransom, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Sharon Penman

author of A King’s Ransom, The Sunne in Splendour, Prince of Darkness and more…

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in New York City and grew up in Atlantic City, New Jersey in its pre-casino days. I have a B.A. in history from the University of Texas and a J.D. degree from Rutgers School of Law. I practiced law in New Jersey  and California for about four years, although it felt much longer; I considered it penance for my sins, past, present, and future!

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

I always wanted to be a writer, but I never expected to be able to make a living as one.   When you hear those stories about artists starving in garrets, they usually have writers as roommates.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

Author: Sharon Penman

That life was black or white with few shades of grey in-between.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

I find music very inspirational and soothing, too, if I am struggling with the dreaded Writer’s Block.  I usually have classical music playing in the background as I write and sometimes medieval music.  For my last novel, A King’s Ransom, I often listened to the haunting lament that Richard Coeur de Lion wrote while he was held prisoner in Germany; it can be found on YouTube here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVRjmTdM4c8&feature=related. Greensleeves is another song that is often heard at my house. I think photography is an art form, too, and my home is decorated with many stunning photos of Wales done by a Welsh photographer friend of mine, Dave O’Shea.  I often found myself gazing at them as I worked on my trilogy set in medieval Wales during the thirteenth century.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

I am definitely not a Renaissance woman; I cannot sing, dance, paint, etc. But I have always felt the urge—the need—to write. I wrote my first short story at age six or seven, about a horse named Queen. I wrote my first novel in my early teens; thankfully that one has long since vanished, for I suspect it would be highly embarrassing to read it today.

Wanting to write was only half of the equation, though. I also needed something I wanted to write about. I did not find that until I was in college, when I stumbled onto the story of Richard III. I was interested enough to want to find out more about him and discovered, to my surprise, that there was no proof that his nephews had been murdered, much less that he had done the deed. I was so indignant that I began telling my friends about this terrible injustice done this long-dead medieval king. They had a uniform response; they said, “Richard who?” and then their eyes began to glaze over. So it was then that I had my epiphany—that this was the story I was supposed to write. Twelve years later, it would be published as The Sunne in Splendour and I was no longer a reluctant lawyer; I was a very happy author.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

My latest published novel was A King’s Ransom, the sequel to Lionheart and my final book in my series about the first Plantagenets, Henry II and his controversial queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and their sons, sometimes known as the Devil’s Brood.  I’d initially intended to end their history with the third book,  but they had other ideas and so I found myself writing a five book trilogy about them!  I am currently working on a novel set in the kingdom of Jerusalem in the twelfth century, Outremer—the  Land Beyond the Sea.  After that, I hope to resurrect the career of the hero of my medieval mysteries, Justin de Quincy, who first appeared in The Queen’s Man, the queen in question being the above-mentioned Eleanor of Aquitaine. I love doing the mysteries, for they give me greater freedom to exercise my imagination than the historicals do, and I am delighted that they are finally available as e-books in Australia and the United Kingdom, thanks to the diligence of my new publisher, Head of Zeus.

Grab a copy of Sharon Penman’s novel A King’s Ransom here

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

I hope that my novels awaken in readers an interest in history in general and medieval history in particular. I am always so pleased when readers tell me that one of my novels inspired them to want to learn more about the characters or the era itself. History matters. We can learn from it if we are lucky.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

There are so many writers whom I admire. Mark Twain for being Mark Twain.  The Bronte sisters for defying a world in which women were not expected or allowed to be creative.  Harper Lee for writing a novel that I consider well-nigh perfect, To Kill a Mockingbird.   Geraldine Brooks for taking me back in time to seventeenth century New England in Caleb’s Crossing, and Alice Hoffman for doing the same in her novel of Masada, The Dovekeepers.   Bernard Cornwell for writing the best battle scenes I’ve ever read.  I am an avid reader as well as a writer, and am grateful that there are so many good writers out there.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

World peace? No, I do not think I’ve ever set very ambitious goals for myself as a writer; I was willing to settle for reasonable ones.  I want to entertain and inform readers, to share my love of history.  I think historical novels are a form of time-travel, so writers of that genre have a responsibility to their readers be as accurate as possible.  I write of people who once lived and I feel a sense of responsibility to them, too, since their lives are the clay that I use to create my books. A fellow writer, Laurel Corona, said it perfectly: Do not defame the dead.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Persevere. Remember that writing is as subjective as it is solitary, so reviewers and critics and editors are not always right, but pick your battles, especially with editors. Bear in mind that there has not been a writer ever born whose book could not benefit from editing. Take comfort from the knowledge that writing is a skill that can be honed by practice, rather like polishing a diamond. And be thankful that you are writing now in an age where you are not totally dependent upon the good will or judgment of publishers; for the first time, writers have options, among them the opportunity to reach out directly to readers via social media. I see that as a very good thing   Facebook has allowed me to become friends with so many of my Australian readers in a way that would not have been possible even ten years ago, and they have done more to promote my books Down Under than an army of agents or publicists.

Sharon, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of A King’s Ransom here


A King’s Ransom

by Sharon Penman

Travelling home from the crusades, Richard was shipwrecked off the coast of Austria, after an encounter with pirates. Richard should have been under the Church’s protection, but in Outremer he had given the Duke of Austria good reason to loathe him and he was captured. He was immediately claimed by the Holy Roman Emperor, who also bore a grudge against the captive English king. Richard was to spend fifteen months imprisoned.

For a man of his fiery nature, it was truly shameful. His mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, began to move heaven and earth to raise a staggering ransom, travelling to Germany herself to buy the release of her favourite son. But it was not to be that easy. At the eleventh hour, Heinrich announced that he had had a better offer from the French king, Philippe, and Richard’s own treacherous brother, John, offering Heinrich an even larger sum to continue Richard’s captivity – or to turn him over to their tender mercies.

Grab a copy of A King’s Ransom here

Kimberley Freeman, author of Evergreen Falls, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Kimberley Freeman

author of Evergreen Falls, Wildflower Hill and more…

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in London to Australian and New Zealand parents who brought me back to Australia when I was three. I was raised at Redcliffe, which is a city just north of Brisbane on the way towards the Sunshine Coast. I attended Humpybong state school, which is famous for having schooled the Bee Gees. It’s directly across from the beach, and during whale watching season we would often find ourselves down at the back fence watching the passing migration.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At all those ages I wanted to be a writer, because I just didn’t think I would be good at anything else.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

I was a bit of a rebel and I strongly rejected the suburban lifestyle, the barbecue on the patio, the ordinary life. I never wanted to have children. Now I love all those things and I love my two children.

Author: Kimberley Freeman (aka Kim Wilkins)

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

Studying English literature at university brought me into contact with some of the most amazing poetry. I can’t and don’t write poetry but I have certainly been influenced by the works of writers such as Tennyson and Keats and Shakespeare, the way that they put words together, the rhythm of their sentences. I must have read Tithonus by Tennyson one hundred times and I’ve yet to make it through without sobbing. Recently I read Beowulf in the original old English with the group of colleagues at the University and it was one of the defining moments of my intellectual life. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë is one of my all-time favourite novels, and I love that puts a woman’s experience at the very centre of the story. Jane is a fabulous character with a strong moral compass.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

I actually did muck around with music for quite a while, I studied opera, and I played in rock bands. But what I love about writing is that I can express myself in private and edit and polish my thoughts before I have to put them in front of anybody. Performance really isn’t for me, though I do still love music and I still sing a lullaby to my children every night.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Evergreen Falls is a novel set in two time periods: 1926 and the present. In the 20s, a naive young waitress at a luxury hotel in the Blue Mountains falls in love with the wrong man entirely, triggering a set of tragic circumstances that are covered up by everyone involved. In the present, a woman who is searching for meaning in her own life comes across a bundle of old love letters that seem to hint at a long buried secret.

Grab a copy of Kimberley Freeman’s novel Evergreen Falls here

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

What I want most of all is for people to feel how I feel when reading a good book: the world goes away and you’re falling through the pages, wishing you could slow down but unable to stop, and afterwards feeling is that you’ve been on an adventure.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

I admire Marian Keyes, because her books make me laugh and cry, because she has suffered such a public battle with depression, an illness which afflicts so many but which so few talk about.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

My goals are not ambitious. For me the practice of writing is its own reward. I get to spend a lot of time in my imagination, with my imaginary friends who are always fascinating. I just want to be able to keep writing, and maybe one day have a house with a view of the sea. 

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Read a lot, write a lot, and enjoy the process. If you’re not passionate about it, don’t bother.

Kimberley, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Evergreen Falls here


evergreen-fallsEvergreen Falls

by Kimberley Freeman

1926: Violet Armstrong is one of the few remaining members of staff working at the grand Evergreen Spa Hotel as it closes down over winter. Only a handful of guests are left, including the heir to a rich grazing family, his sister and her suave suitor. When a snowstorm moves in, the hotel is cut off and they are all trapped. No one could have predicted what would unfold. When the storm clears they must all keep the devastating secrets hidden.

2014: After years of putting her sick brother’s needs before her own, Lauren Beck leaves her home and takes a job at a Blue Mountains cafe, the first stage of the Evergreen Spa Hotel’s renovations. There she meets Tomas, the Danish architect who is overseeing the project, and an attraction begins to grow. In a wing of the old hotel, Lauren finds a series of passionate love letters dated back to 1926, alluding to an affair – and a shocking secret.If she can unravel this long-ago mystery, will it make Lauren brave enough to take a risk and change everything in her own life?

Inspired by elements of her grandmother’s life, a rich and satisfying tale of intrigue, heartbreak and love from the author of the bestselling Lighthouse Bay and Wildflower Hill.

Grab a copy of Evergreen Falls here

 

Georgia Clark, author of Parched, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Georgia Clark

author of Parched and She’s with the Band

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Manly, which is ironic because I certainly am not. Raised in Hornsby Heights where I shunned the bush to keep my nose in a book. I went to school at Gosford High School, which I commuted 2 hours each way to! Had a great time at school: I loved my friends and I was pretty good at the learning.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

I have a very early memory of wanting to be a policewoman, but I think that was more about being in charge than upholding the will of the state. Eighteen I was dead-set on becoming a film director, which is what I went to uni for. By 30, that had changed into novelist, mostly because it was easier and cheaper, and I could do it in my pajamas.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

Author: Georgia Clark

I strongly believed there would be a revolution in Australia. After starting at uni, I quickly fell into the left wing movement, and learnt about anarchism and socialism and all sorts of wonderful trouble-making. I really believed there would be an uprising, and that I would be a part of it! I also believed in cutting my own hair and dying it blue. I was fun.

4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

Manhattan by Woody Allen. I grew up watching this movie. From my lounge chair in suburban NSW, Woody’s New York was impossibly smart and cool and complex. I loved his intellectual points of reference and his characters’ shifting morality. I’m sure this early obsession led me to New York and a love of clever, modern characters from my socio-economic world.

The Dark is Rising series, by Susan Cooper. This series fanned the flame of my love for fantasy and adventure. I still remember inhaling these books when I was 12, 13, 14… I grew up without the internet or TV, so books were my everything. When I finished the fifth book in the series, I immediately started re-reading it again. Set in Cornwall, England, in the 1950s (when it was first published) this is a story about a group of plucky young kids, Barney, Simon, and Jane, who embark an ancient quest in an underworld that exists alongside out own. It’s ambitious, exciting, and original, I was riveted the entire time. Think Narnia meets Harry Potter. Yes, that good.

Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. It’s no accident that Parched has been compared to this handbook for dystopic action: I’ve read the book, listened to the audiobook and seen the movie many times. I set out to create something as tense, political and exciting as this fantastic book.

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

Writing a marathon is a bit like what I imagine running a marathon is like: so hard to do your first one, but then you’re hooked. I love creating fictional worlds and imagining dialogue and scenes. I tried TV writing and directing, but couldn’t break into it. I found my niche with books.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Parched is about a sixteen-year-old girl, Tess Rockwood, who joins an underground rebel group called Kudzu to help stop the development of an ‘artilect’; an artificial intelligence prototype. It’s set in a future world without much water, and features robots and kickass girls and a cute/mysterious guy. Some reviews have compared it to Divergent and Hunger Games, which of course I’m totally thrilled about!

Grab a copy of Parched here

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

I hope Parched takes them on a rollercoaster ride, complete with sweaty palms and racing hearts. I hope they swoon and sigh over the romance, cheer on Kudzu, and root for Tess. And I hope they think about climate change and sustainability, and ponder the ethical issues of artificial intelligence.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

Anyone who speaks their truth and maintains a healthy output. YA authors I love include Maggie Steifvater, David Leviathan, Rainbow Rowell, Cassandra Clare, and Lauren Oliver.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

I’d love to get a six-figure advance to write a No. 1 New York Times-best selling novel that gets turned into a fantastic movie, thus entering the pop culture Hall of Fame forever. I’d also like to write something that concretely affects people’s lives, and gives them a greater sense of hope and self-worth.  

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Write stories in genres you read, and that you personally, would love to pick up in a bookstore. Commit to a regular writing schedule, ideally in a space away from home. Try the app Freedom if the internet distracts you. Don’t worry about the lacklustre first chapter; you’ll find your writing gathers steam later and you’ll go back and rewrite it anyway. Remember that talent is persistence: most writers don’t sell their first book, they sell their third or fourth. Writing is the long game: stick at it. Live a life worth writing about: take risks, say yes, follow your heart, and me, on Twitter: @georgialouclark

Georgia, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Parched here

Nikki Parkinson, author of Unlock Your Style, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Nikki Parkinson

author of Unlock Your Style

Ten Terrifying Questions
____________

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born, raised and schooled in regional Queensland – Maryborough – a town once famous for having the most pubs per capita in Queensland and now famous for being the birthplace of Mary Poppins’ author P.L. Travers.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

12: A teacher. I’m from a family of teachers. It was pretty much all I knew.

18: A journalist. I was in my first year of uni and studying journalism. My school guidance officer had told me since I was good at English that I should give it a go. Something I did give a go for 20 years.

30: A magazine editor. It had always been a dream but life had taken me a different way. I was lucky that new opportunities at the newspaper where I worked came my way and I edited a weekly glossy magazine.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

I believed that you went into the profession that you trained/studied for and stayed there. Today I’ve proved that’s not the case and this and the next generation of professionals will show us that life will be a series of career chapters.

4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

1. I grew up in a family that treasured books and encouraged us to read. My Dad was head of English at my high school and he always said to me, “it doesn’t matter what you read as long as you read something”. Words – reading and writing them – were always valued.

2. Leaving the country town in which I grew up and heading to Brisbane to go to university will always be a defining moment in my life. Meeting life-long friends, learning that the world really is a big one – there for the taking – and embracing my journalism degree have had an effect to this day.

3. Deciding in 2008 to leave my relatively secure job as a journalist when the first of the media redundancies started was a big, big move on my part. I’d always played it safe. Instead I decided to back myself and start my own business. I’m so glad I did.

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? Aren’t they obsolete?

My book has come about because of my blog so I think they sit well together. Unlock Your Style started as a series on my blog, became a self-published e-book and was then picked up by Hachette and expanded into a book form. My readers were excited about that – they told me they love reading my blog every day but also haven’t lost the love of holding a physical book.

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

Busy women are crying out for help in creating or re-discovering their personal style. I know this from the thousands who read my blog each month and the number of emails I receive asking for advice. It’s more than just clothes and lippy. How we present ourselves for any particular day or occasion can affect our confidence levels.

My aim with Unlock Your Style is to take women on a simple process to find a confidence that will help them take on whatever the day throws at them. The format is part workbook, part stories (embarrassing style stories included) and part visual.

Grab a copy of Unlock Your Style here

7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

If just one woman feels more confident returning to the workforce, leaving to become a mum, going on a first date after a broken relationship or just in the every day by reading Unlock Your Style, then my job is done. The ripple effect of that confidence will spill over into her family and community life.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

My girlfriends who are in business always inspire me. We support each other in times of stress and celebrate in times of victory. Without them this would be a very lonely business journey.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

My goal every day is to be able to combine my work with my family life in a way that’s flexible but still exciting and challenging for me. If I’m meeting that then I’m ready for any opportunities that might come my way. I plan out my weeks and months but I don’t have a five-year-plan. What I’m doing now as a full-time blogger (and now author) didn’t exist as an opportunity five years ago. Who knows what the next five years will bring?

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Start a blog. Don’t wait for someone to publish you. Publish yourself. The very act of writing on daily basis will improve the way you write and by building a community around your blog you’ll be more attractive to a potential publisher.

Nikki, thank you for playing.

Grab a copy of Unlock Your Style here

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