Your debut novel Faerytale was recently published. For those not familiar with the book, how would you describe it?
The story is a modern day fairytale. It brings in all the elements that everyone would expect to find in a fairytale. One that can free them from this world.
And also give them a solution to fix all the things wrong in the world. It breaks down social barriers in beliefs, and invites balance in thinking. This story invites escapism while allowing the reader to develop their own interpretation. A lot of people that read it say it reads in their mind like a movie, and that’s because they have connected with it. The outcome of this book is very much up to the mind of the individual. For me, the story simply promotes hope for something more than what we know to be true. Faerytale is a bedtime story for the soul.
Faerytale seems to have strong local support in your home town of Coffs Harbour. What do readers usually identify as their favourite aspects of the novel?
It’s hard to say what people identify as a key point. I think that women identify with the love affair that exists within the book between the main characters, Lourion and Johan. It’s by no means a perfect relationship, as both of my main characters have made some critical mistakes throughout time that have had severe consequences.
The support characters are very likable (or not) and easily identifiable and, within their personalities, the local crowd has related my characters to people that they have met, being good or bad.
Which, in a way, is exactly how I saw them when I wrote it. I have a love affair with all of my characters, even the ones that are plagued with elements of evil. I recognise and love the support I have received locally. It’s amazing to find so many people that identify with my story and, on such a personal level, let me know how much this has impacted on them.
You have credited James Hackett, Kaitlyn Jayne and Tascha Lillian on the cover of your book, much like actors would be credited for a movie, and you thank them inside as the inspiration for characters in the book. What advantages or disadvantages did you encounter using real people to inspire fictional characters?
When I decided to put a face to my characters, it wasn’t without a lot of thought. James Hackett is an amazing young man who lives in Sydney. He, on so many levels of knowing him, represented the innocence and conviction of my Johan. Johan is a Druid, who is not tainted by the world or by time itself. He is only tainted by the undying need to find the one true love that he lost through a heartbeat of possible bad judgement. James certainly seems to me to be similar, and has a look and ancient attitude about him that is definately Druidish. He is my perfect shapeshifter. Kaitlyn Jayne is my daughter. I always saw her as one of my characters. Making her my Lourion, was initially a hard call, because she has an older sister, Gillian, who I decided to use as the musical angle of my story and not the visual one, since she is an amazing singer, and songwriter in her own right. I used Gillian’s personality in many ways to drive the character, although visually Kaitlyn was on so many levels my Lourion that I decided to photograph her as Lourion. This works for me now, since Gillian will also represent a character introduced in the next book. Tascha Lillian is the daughter of a close friend. Tascha has an amazing innocence about her, and in so many ways, is Tymeless, the character originally written to fit Kaitlyn. Tasch and Kait have grown up together and it has always been pointed out that they are similar. The character she is portraying is young and vibrant, although she is also an Elf, and is ageless. I don’t regret putting visuals to my characters, because the story came from my perspective, and I wanted to give my readers my perspective of what I was seeing when I wrote the books. The best way for me to do this was to photograph my characters using the people that to me, were very much the reason the characters exist in the first place. The kids that make up my characters, are visually exactly how it was supposed to be. I thank Aaron Davenport also for having faith in this vision and allowing me to follow it through. Aaron is an amazing photographer who listened to me, then caught every moment on film, just as I asked him to do. Never has he stepped in front of my judgement, he just found his own vision through my words and brought my characters to life.
Could you describe the process you went through when writing Faerytale?
Faerytale came to me from a bizzare set of circumstances. I went to Thailand for a week with Maree, my friend, and when I came home, I had a dream which really didn’t relate that much to the characters themselves, but the overall message, that hope prevails. I told my friend about it, and the next day I started to type the story. It came word for word, almost exactly how it is. Every night I would call Maree and read her what was written. Eventually I handed her the finished manuscript and said. “There you go, here is your story.” It was Maree that convinced me to do something with this book. If she hadn’t have convinced me, it would be collecting dust on her table.
Being a songwriter I found that music was my best friend while writing, since this is what I was most familiar with, and searched YouTube for different songs that helped me find certain emotions. I would play the songs while I wrote the chapters and cry along with my characters, or laugh, or get angry. It took me 8 days to get my first draft for Faerytale finished, and that was only because my mother had my youngest kids. I only had Kait at home. I had limited distractions. In hindsight, it’s a great way to write a book. I must ask her if she would like to step in again!
What kind of fiction books do you most enjoy reading, and have any specific books had a major influence on the way you write?
I love Tolkein, I love Lillith St Crow. I love a lot of fiction. There are way too many to mention. I read a lot of other books from Dr Michael Newton to Betty Eadie, but I guess Tolkein is my main one, and Lillith just gave me an outline to create personality in a loose kind of way. There really are more songs that influence my writing than books do. I really feel emotion with music which helps me to develop the visual effect to write. Some of the music that has taken me to amazing heights is 30 Seconds to Mars, Red, Muse, Him, Disturbed, Damien Rice and The Cure. (this is a fraction of what was used, but we would be here forever if I went into them all.)
If you were to attend your ideal 2-day writing workshop next weekend, what would it involve?
The perfect workshop would involve pointers for dealing with the public, and public speaking, something I’m yet to learn. It would teach me how to develop side characters a little better, and would have a lot of relaxation techniques to help you to walk away from the characters you are writing when you need to. It would also have a great selection of Merlot!
What is the most important piece of advice you would like to give for new writers?
Don’t stop writing. Even if you think the chapter won’t work, don’t stop writing. You have an amazing tool called cut and paste! A lot of my second book is made up of chapters, paragraphs and sayings that didn’t quite fit the first book. There is even an idea that I had for another book, that helps to build the foundation for my Lourion. Write everything down, even if it seems insignificant at the time.
What can you tell us about the remaining two books in the Faerytale trilogy?
The second book in the trilogy is called Myth. Without giving too much away, it heavily involves the characters Johan, Baird, and Tymeless and introduces a few new ones. Kaylienne, Lourion’s mother who comes from another world completely, plays heavily in Myth. Even though on many levels my character Lourion appears to be absent, she isn’t. So the story continues from her perspective. The third book is called Truth, and it is a prelude to the first book, taking you back to a time that is not heavily explored in book 1, and it moves through and past the stories in the first and second book again to what is present day. Truth is a lot more confronting in the way it introduces new concepts. It also brings home the need for universal acceptance. We, as visitors to this planet, need to start thinking about it a lot more as a living entity than we have so far. It’s very much about conservation.
Do you have any plans or areas you would like to explore after you finish the Faerytale trilogy?
Right now, my plans are on making the Faerytale project a total reality. Beyond Faerytale there is a myriad of ideas that I will bring into play, but right now, I’m happy to focus on simply this, and I’m happy to just love the personalities I have created. My characters belong to a world that exists as an entire universe in my head, and my aim is to explore and expand that universe before I beam out to another one.
The Australian Literature Review