Did you always want to be a writer or did you kind of fall into it? Tell us the story of how you came to identify yourself as a writer.
I always enjoyed writing as a child and throughout school, but didn’t pursue it hard until my mid-twenties after only dreaming idly about it, waiting for inspiration to strike.
As a writer, are you a reader? What genres do you read and do you read more frequently in the genre you write in, or avoid it completely?
I am – I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy as a child and teenager, then discovered the joys of historical fiction. I don’t mind a bit of romance, the odd contemporary fiction novel, and back into sci fi/fantasy now and then. It’s less about the genre than the writing style, whether it’s in my genre or not.
Tell us about your first writing experience. How does that compare to where you are now?
Well, I was a finalist in the Nestle Write Around Australia competition when I was eleven… but my first novel as an adult was a huge challenge. To commit to a project of that size, for that length of time, with no deadlines but what I set myself, took an enormous amount of courage and discipline, though there were many times both failed and I had to force myself to start again. These days it’s more about discipline, because I have grown a lot as a writer and know that the best way to keep growing is to keep writing.
We all know the ‘just write’ memes if you are following any writers page, so apart from that, what’s the best advice you can give to someone new?
Surround yourself with honest but positive writers, whether it be online or in a writers group. You need to listen to what others do and form your own ideas, and you need feedback on your own work, whether you take it on board or not. You don’t need to copy, but you can learn a lot watching others grow and learn too.
What’s your biggest obstacle to writing and how do you overcome it? Most of us know that it is time, so try and let us know when you are best at your writing, and why that doesn’t work, and what you do to counter or overcome that problem.
Not being around other writers. If people are waiting on my stories, I have incentive to write. I reach out to writer friends if I can’t get to writers groups.
Self-published or traditionally published? Tell us why that works for you?
Self-published. I was too impatient to wait to get my foot in the door. I made my own door, my own mistakes and my own way. I like to try pass on what I’ve learnt to help others. It works for me because I have control.
Here is your chance to plug a book. Tell us about it and why we need to read it?
The Dark Office – it’s a quirky novella filled with funny observations about people I know. It also has all of my short stories, so if you want a peek into my time-travel adventure series, or gain some insight into more serious of mental health, this book is the way to go.
Next project? Where are you in your writing journey and where to next for you?
I’m currently brainstorming The Light Office – a sequel novella which will continue funny tales from everyday people I know in a larger than life setting. Some online marketing is definitely in order for my time-travel books too, since the five book series is now complete.
What’s your favourite genre? Tell us about one book from that genre that changed your life or outlook in life?
Historical fiction. The Blue Castle by L M Montgomery. This isn’t really historical fiction, since it was written in the time it’s set, but it’s such a beautiful, inspiring tale of a bullied introvert breaking free in a mission of self-determination, and finding joy in her adventure.
The most personal question of all, what does writing give you? Why do you do it, what’s the point, and what does it provide in your life that you can’t fulfil by any other means?
Writing is life. We are the story-telling ape, as Sir Terry Pratchett said, and we tell stories to each other to connect, to dream, to commiserate and to inspire. Writing lets me bring worlds to life, to look into my own heart and find everything wonderful and terrible that I can imagine. It provokes questions and feelings in the minds of my readers, and makes me feel alive.
Bonus Questions (If you wrote both, feel free to answer both!)
Non fiction writers
What is the hardest thing you had to learn about putting together a factual book? Talk about how you verify facts, or try to display the information, especially if there are a lot of photos or diagrams. Offer some advice for the audience who might want to try non-fiction.
There is a lot of information about world building, character driven plots, and showing not telling. Discuss briefly how each of the elements of your book came together and which part do you love the most – the world you’ve built, your characters, or the story itself? I know, it’s like picking a favourite child, but give it a try.
I start with an historical event or personage, something or someone that piques my interest. Then I read and research, maybe watch documentaries or dramatizations about that person and time. Then I think about how my time-travelling characters could subtly interact with the historical events. Building characters is the best, because you start with a two-dimensional person and then you get to know them and they come alive, with their own personality and ideas and voice.
Jodie Lane is an enthusiastic historian, combining her love of travel and adventure with fascinating stories from the past. Brisbane based, she studied a variety of modern history at the University of Queensland, and loves to read a wide range of historical and science fiction.
Her travels have taken her all over the world: she has lived and taught English in China and Romania, backpacked through Europe and South America, and holidayed in the Middle East, Central America, South East Asia, New Zealand and South Africa. She speaks basic Spanish as a second language.
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