'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 4 June 2010

Author Interview: Dee White

This is Dee White: I live in regional Victoria with my husband, two children and enough animals to almost fill an ark.

I’ve had a number of articles, short stories and poems published and my books are; A Duel of Words, Hope for Hanna and Letters to Leonardo. Harry’s Goldfield Adventure is due for release this year.

I’m passionate about encouraging young readers and writers and my blog (deescribewriting.wordpress.com) is full of career and writing tips for students. I’ve run a lot of workshops for primary and secondary students in various states of Australia with sessions focussing on story ideas, plotting and character development.

I’m also the Kids’ Book Capers blogger for Boomerang Books.

Tell us a little about you: what’s your background, your story? I’ve worked as an advertising copywriter and journalist but I wanted to write books from the time I was seven years old.

When my kids were 8 months and 22 months, we set off on a camping trip around Australia with a lot of paraphernalia and the family dog. My husband and I and our two children traveled for almost two years, camping in tents for most of that time.

It was the most amazing experience. I wrote articles as we traveled and quite a number of them were published in Practical Parenting and camping magazines. When we came back, we built our house and once the kids were at school, I settled in to writing my books in earnest.

What genre do you write in? I write non-fiction and contemporary fiction for mid-grade and young adults.

What other genres have you written in? I have written plays, short stories, articles, poems and I even interviewed Joseph Banks once.

Why do you write? Because there is nothing else I would rather do. Writing is a part of who I am. If I go too long without writing I start to get grumpy.

What do you love about writing for children? I love that there’s a whole world out there that children are waiting to discover, and that my writing can help them take the journey.

You recently undertook a May Gibbs Creative Time Fellowship – can you tell us about your month of writing? The May Gibbs Creative Time Residency has been the most inspirational, creative experience of my writing life so far.

I blogged about this EVERY day at my blog. Although I missed my family desperately, it was the most amazing opportunity to write uninterrupted, seeing as there was just me to feed and take care of. I ended up having an average of fifteen hours a day to write.

I had some time to network with the wonderful children’s writing community in Brisbane, but for the most part I wrote.

I completed the plot outline for my new three-part YA psychological thriller series; which is why I applied for the Fellowship in the first place. I also wrote 56,000 words of the first draft of book one.

In addition to that, I worked on edits for an existing YA novel and plotted a new MG book.

What are the greatest obstacles you have experienced on your book-writing journey? I’d say that the distractions of life are probably the hardest thing. As a parent and member of a family, I often have to put my writing aside to deal with other priority issues, but that’s something most writers have to deal with. You just have to keep the story tucked away in your head until you have a chance to get back to it.

I always spend a lot of time developing my characters and planning the story before I start writing, so I don’t tend to experience writer’s block and if I do, I walk the dog and that seems to free my thinking.

When I worked as an advertising copywriter, I had to write sitting in the middle of a very noisy, crowded studio so that gave me the ability to pretty much write anywhere. I don’t have to be alone or have silence to write. In fact, I wrote a couple of thousand words on the plane trip to Brisbane for my May Gibbs Fellowship.

Obviously receiving rejections is another difficult thing for a writer, but I try not to dwell on them. I always make sure I have multiple projects ‘out there’ so that even though I might have received a rejection for one, I can still live in hope that one of the other projects I’ve submitted will be accepted.

What’s a typical writing day? Start about 5.00am then stop at 6.30 when first son has to get up for school. Start again at 9.30 after both children safely delivered to their schools. Work 'til 3.00pm when it’s time to pick youngest up from school.

What advice do you have on writing? I do a Tuesday Writing Tips segment on my blog where I give lots of tips about developing character and plot, story beginnings, coping with rejection etc but I suppose in summary, I’d advise new writers to:
• read a lot
• write a lot
• try to stay focused and positive
• take on constructive criticism, but remember this is your story.
• develop a network of like-minded writers who you can vent with, workshop with and celebrate your successes with.
• Don’t give up!

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be? There is nothing else I would want to be – and I think that writing is one of those things you can do in just about any situation.

What books did you read as a child? As a child I liked to read the sort of books that I write – stories about real things that happen to real people.

What else do you like to do, other than write books? Spend time with my family and friends, play golf, play cricket, walk a lot, read, draw, go camping, travel, go to writing conferences where I can personally meet writers and illustrators who have become my friends through social networking.

I’ve also been developing a board/computer/dvd game, and that’s under consideration by a games manufacturer right now. I’d love to see my game on the shelves in stores.

What would be your perfect day? Spending time with my family and friends, and writing. Oh hang on, that’s what I do every day☺

What five words best sum you up? Enthusiastic, creative, determined family person.

What’s next for Dee White? My book, Harry’s Goldfield Adventure is being released in August, and I have a new YA novel, Street Racer that’s been accepted for publication. I’m currently working on my YA psychological thriller series, a non-fiction book, a picture book and a mid grade series about a young inventor.