Ep 117 Author Nova Weetman, new doco on romance writing and 6 tips for getting more traffic on your author blog.

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podcast-artwork In Episode 117 of So you want to be a writer: A new documentary on the romance writing industry, scientists discover what causes writer’s block and seven ways to make yourself a better editor. Scrivener fans rejoice: Scrivener is now on iOS. Plus: discover what editors look for on an opening page, and meet Young Adult and Middle Grade author Nova Weetman. A parenting hack for writers with kids, six tips for getting more traffic on your author blog, and much more!

Click play to listen to the podcast or find it on iTunes here. If you don’t use iTunes you can get the feed here, or listen to us on Stitcher radio.

Show Notes
A new documentary explores the billion-dollar romance novel industry

Scientists discover the antidote to writer’s block

7 Ways to Make Yourself a Better Editor

Hands-on with the Scrivener writing app for iOS

What Our Editors Look for on an Opening Page

News for Authors

Writer in Residence

Nova Weetman
nova weetman author in a black and white photoNova Weetman has been writing for 18 years as a screenwriter on everything from short films to Neighbours, as a writer of short fiction and non-fiction, published in Overland, Kill your Darlings and Fairfax Media, to name a few. And as the author of two middle grade books and two YA novels. Her latest work, The Secrets We Keep, is a middle-grade novel and is her fifth book.

Follow Nova on Twitter

Visit Nova’s website

App Pick

The ultimate working parent hack – explained in 3 minutes

Platform Building Tip

6 Tips For Getting More Traffic on your Author Blog

Competition

Win our “fabulous five” book pack!

Your hosts

Allison Tait

Valerie Khoo / Australian Writers’ Centre

Connect with us on twitter

@altait

@valeriekhoo

Email us

podcast at writerscentre.com.au

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Interview Transcript 

Allison

Nova Weetman has been writing for 18 years as a screenwriter on everything from short films to Neighbours, as a writer of short fiction and non-fiction, published in Overland, Kill your Darlings and Fairfax Media, to name a few. And as the author of two middle grade books and two YA novels. Her latest work, The Secrets We Keep, is a middle-grade novel and is her fifth book.

 

Welcome to the program, Nova.

 

Nova

Thank you, Allison.

 

Allison

Did you like my intro? It sounded alright, didn’t it?

 

Nova

I did, I loved it.

 

Allison
Let’s start with the screenwriting thing, how did you become a screenwriter in the first place?

 

Nova

How did I become a screenwriter? I was at uni studying psychology, because my parents were horrified that I wanted to be a writer and they wanted me to have a backup career.

 

Allison

Oh yes.

 

Nova

A friend of mine came to me and said, “Write me a short film, because you’re the only writer I know and I want to put it in for funding.” So, I did.

 

Actually, we got the money and found ourselves on the eastern freeway in the middle of the night with stunt drivers and safety officers and shorting a short film. Very exciting way to start your career at the age of 21.

 

Allison

That’s hilarious.

 

Nova

Yeah.

 

Allison

Like, did you know how to go about writing a screenplay? How did you teach yourself to do that?

 

Nova

I had absolutely no idea at all. So, I borrowed a book.

 

Allison

What book did you borrow? Tell us.

 

Nova

I can’t even remember. It’s like 20 years ago. But, I just borrowed some books and basically sort of threw myself into it and went, “I can write a screenplay. It can be that hard. It’s a bit of dialogue, a bit of big print.” But, you look back it now and it’s quite amazing because it’s so sort of floral, it’s so overwritten as a screenplay. All of the big print is beautiful sounding, like someone would actually want to read it as a piece of work, which of course never happens. No one wants to read your screenplays as a piece of writing.

 

So, I clearly had no idea what I was doing, but it worked as a film. So, yeah.

 

Allison

And so that was the beginning of your screenwriting career? Your first film?

 

Nova

Yes, basically. And so that went on screen, on TV. SBS, I think, put money into it as well, so that sort of screen on television. And then as a result of that I started working at Neighbours as a writer.

 

Allison

At Neighbors, so you wrote one short film and then there you were at Neighbours?

 

Nova

I wrote one short film and then I wrote another short film, but I was writing for Neighbours… yeah, so I got some work on Neighbours and that was a really good way to learn how to write quickly and without any sort of preciousness. I think that actually is a really good sort of training ground for a young screenwriter is to go, “Oh my god, people are just going to change whatever they like and I have no real control over,” and that’s kind of a good thing, I think.

 

But, it’s also really quick from the time when you write the first script to when it ends up on air, it’s a much faster process than writing film, obviously. So, that was quite exciting for me to kind of go, “Oh, my work is on television and everyone is very excited about that,” because they can sort of see that you’re actually doing something that is measurable, unlike short film that no one really cares about, sadly.

 

Allison

And the question that we must ask at this point is did you finish the degree, Nova?

 

Nova

I did.

 

Allison

Well done.

 

Nova

I finished my psychology degree and then I did a post grad in creative writing and editing so…

 

Allison

There you go, and you became the writer that your parents never wanted you to be.

 

Nova

I think they were OK with me becoming a writer. They just thought I needed some sort of backup. But, the irony is you don’t go on and do a masters in psychology when you’re 22, and now it’s too late. So, I could never actually use it for anything anyway, other than sort of pretending that I knew what people were thinking, which is always very fun at parties. So…

 

Allison

Alright. So, then how did you then transition from screenwriting work to novels. Like what made you go, “I’m going to write a novel.”?

 

Nova

OK, so I was writing… I worked on… H2O was a story liner, which every teenager I tell that to is so excited about, because they clearly love that original mermaid series. So, I was working on that and I wrote a lot of kids’ animation.

 

Allison

Right.

 

Nova

And I was writing my own feature films and trying to get them made and documentaries and whatnot. And I loved all of that and I started developing a TV series called Dark Pines with a friend of mine, which came very close to getting made, was for kids. But, the problem with making kid’s TV in Australia is no one will let you make dark, real television.

 

And I found it very frustrating because what I wanted to write was dark and real, and what we were being told to make was sort of aimed eight year olds. So, I decided I would write a book instead, because then I could explore whatever I liked. So, I wrote the Haunting of Lily Frost.

 

Allison

Alright. And, so how long ago was that, that you sort of started that process?

 

Nova

That was probably about… maybe six years ago. I wrote the first draft… because I had never written… I had written two adult novels, which it sort of got close to being published and didn’t get published. But, I never had written a YA novel before, because it was a genre book it sort of has to be scary, have some sort of drama in it.

 

And I wrote this first draft and it was really boring and really dull and had no kind of… no story arc to it at all. So, I took all of the elements and wrote it the way I would write a film and plotted it the way I would write a plotted film. And then it suddenly had a sort of structure that worked as a ghost story.

 

Allison

So the screenwriting background, for you, was a help rather than a hindrance when it came to writing novels?

 

Nova

Definitely. Yep.

 

Allison

Because of the plot aspect? Is that…?

 

Nova

I think because of the plot and also I think it makes you really appealing to publishers, because you’re really used to editing, you’re really used to rewriting, you’re really used to having other people have a say over your work. And, so you’re not possibly as precious as you would be had you not come through that. It’s sort of like your blooded really when you’re a TV writer.

 

Allison

You’ve been bashed around the head a few times.

 

Nova

Yeah, you have. And you really have to have no — sort of no ego almost. And, I was just so grateful that someone wanted to publish my book. They could have done anything with it, really. To be honest.

 

Allison

“Rewrite it, I don’t mind.”

 

Nova

Yeah, “Do what you like. Change my name, I don’t really mind.”

 

Yeah, so I think it was definitely a help having written TV and film when you’re writing a genre book, because it does have to be a really kind of big narrative arc. So, that definitely helped, yep.

 

Allison

How long did it take from that initial, “Right, I can’t get this made as TV, I’m going to write a novel…” from that moment to the actual published book?

 

Nova

I think I had written a draft and then I saw that Camerons were looking for new YA writers to take on. And so I sent them a really early draft, and it was shabby… it was pretty rough, but they liked it. They saw something in it. So, they signed me on and shopped it and UQP were… yeah, took it on the basis of that. And I definitely rewrote — I probably did four drafts from that process.

 

So, it was probably maybe 18 months between when Cameron took me on and when it came out.

 

Allison

I was a little bit interested to learn, because we met at Summerset [assumed spelling] last year — was it last year?

 

Nova

Yep.

 

Allison

Was it early last year.

 

Nova

Yeah, last year.

 

Allison

That moment in our lives.

 

Nova

I know.

 

Allison

I knew that you had written a couple of novels at that point, but I thought that
The Secrets That We Keep, which is your new novel, was actually your third book, but it’s actually your fifth. So I was interested to learn that you had two books in the
Choose Your Own Ever After series, which was a middle grade series. How did you come to be involved in that series?

 

Nova

I think what happened was Hardy Grant had been interested in Lily Frost, but there had been kind of muck up, in terms of I didn’t know how interested they were, and so I had emailed the publisher and said, “I’d really love to do a book with you guys,” and it just happened that they were looking at developing a series, a choose your own series. And they felt like my writing, even though I’m writing YA sometimes, it sits quite young, I think. In the YA category, it’s not older YA. It’s quite young, close to middle grade kind of voice.

 

They felt like I could probably write one of the choose your own books. So, I had to come up with a structure, and that again was where television really helped, having written TV. They are such hard books to write, they are so structured. And, I think if you’re coming from, like sort of storyline in television it just makes sense for you to have all of these options that all tie up neatly. It’s sort of the way your brain works, it sort of fits.

 

So I had to pitch a story to them that they felt would work, and I did. And I was writing that first choose your own, A Hot Cold Summer, at the same time I was doing Lily Frost. So, I was working with two really different publishing houses and two really different editing processes. And, it was really good, actually. It was a really fun time, I think.

 

Allison

How did you manage that? Did you keep the completely separate, like, “Today I’m going to work on this one and then tomorrow I will do that one.”? Or did you mix it up more? How did you manage the two different projects at the same time?

 

Nova

I think because they’re such different processes and such different projects I would sort… I think I get really bored working on something and I quite like having a lot of things on the go at the same time. So, I would work on Lily Frost until I was bored with it, and then I would go to A Hot Cold Summer, and then I would do back and forth.

 

And A Hot Cold Summer, because of the way you write a choose your own, it’s very chapter driven and very kind of, almost episodic. So, you could write one story through and then sort of finish that sort of whole storyline and then actually have to do the next one the next day. It kind of has quite a natural rhythm to it, the way you write it, I think. Yeah.

 

Allison

It’s an interesting process. I was trying to think — I’m sitting here trying to think how I would go about writing one of those. And, I don’t know.

 

Nova

But, they’re really fun, like they’re weirdly fun to write because you get to… and especially the way those ones are structured, because they’re not… they’ve only got eight endings. Some of the choose your owns have a lot of endings. So, you don’t actually get into the story enough, but these ones are written with quite a lot of story in each of the storylines. So, you get to develop all of the characters in all of the story threads and you get to play out all of those choices that you wanted to make when you were that age, you know? Which boy do you choose? Which party do you choose? Like, I loved all of that stuff.

 

Allison

I can hear that in you. It just sounds like —

 

Nova

I still love it.

 

Allison

It sounds like too many decisions for me. I’d be like paralyzed.

 

Nova

No, it’s super fun. And it was really light, like it was really nice writing something light and fun and really… I don’t know, like, playful, I guess.

 

Allison

I guess when you’re contrasting that with The Haunting of Lily Frost it’s sort of like a bit of a break for your brain, isn’t it?

 

Nova

Yeah. And it’s emotional, it kind of like playing in that emotional space, which is really nice for that age group, I think. Yeah.

 

Allison

Alright. So, you’ve got the two YA books, which is The Haunting of Lily Frost, which came out in 2014 and Frankie and Joely, which came out in 2015, both of those Young Adult. And now with The Secrets We Keep you’re back in that middle grade territory.

 

You talked about the fact that your voice was probably at the lower end of the YA sort of spectrum, but as a writer how would you describe the differences between writing for those two age groups? Like, what are the things that you keep in mind when you’re setting out to write a middle grade versus a YA novel?

 

Nova

I think when I was writing The Secrets We Keep it felt very much like it was first person, really immediate voice, kind of despite the fact that there’s a lot of secrets in the story, I found her very… she’s quite a transparent character in some ways. She’s upfront, she’s honest to a point, I think, whereas when I’m writing YA there’s much more room for I guess sort of layers to the voice. Writing middle grade feels much more honest, I think.

 

Allison

So more of a straightforward sort of style of writing?

 

Nova

More straightforward emotionally, and less sort of clutter, like, just a more sort of straight forward through line to the sort of story and the way that the characters think about things.

 

Allison

Are you having to think about language choices? Is that sort of stuff… is that a — what’s the word I want? A concern for you? Or is it, you know, or are you just using what you consider to be the right word no matter what you’re writing?

 

Nova

Yeah, I didn’t think about it with this book at all, I just wrote. And The Secrets We Keep was actually the easiest book I’ve written. I wrote the first draft really quickly and then I only really wrote a second draft. I often write heaps of drafts with YA, but this book was really quick to write, and I think the voice just came really easily. The characters came really quickly.

 

My 11-year-old daughter had quite a hand in the kind of emotional storyline of the character, so it just felt like it worked really simply for me. And maybe it is my natural voice, maybe that’s my natural age group that I like writing for. But, I think I’ve been really surprised by how sophisticated that ten plus readership is when they’re reading, and I think they can read really complicated emotional storylines and get it. So, I certainly didn’t look at making it simpler or… yeah.

 

Allison

Just tell us a little bit about The Secrets We Keep, because I do sense that it’s quite a personal novel for you.

 

Nova

Yeah, it is. It’s about a… the character is Clem Timmins whose mother essentially has depression and burns the family house down. That obviously didn’t happen, I didn’t burn the house down, and I haven’t had depression, my partner did. So, it was written very much for… because I felt like my kids didn’t have a way of understanding what depression and how it affected the family.

 

So, I wrote it with my daughter, and she had a very big hand in telling me how Clem felt about having a mother with depression.

 

I didn’t actually write it with any real expectation that it would be published, it was more an exercise for the two of us to work through what was going on in our house. And then it just worked as a story really naturally, so…

 

Allison

It was interesting because you did acknowledge in the acknowledgements as being a driving force in the book and also even just that sense of asking for the next chapter and keeping the project on track and getting it done.

 

Nova

Yeah.

 

Allison

It obviously was just like an important and personal project for the two of you to do together.

 

Nova

It was at the kind of height of when my partner’s depression was happening, and I would go to the office and I would write during the day and I would come home every night and my daughter would read the two or three thousand words that I had written that day. I think it was just a really good way for her to go, “This is what Clem is really feeling,” because she was, I think, struggling with being able to say what she was feeling about the whole thing, because it was so hard for her to say, “I’m furious at dad,” or, “I’m hurt,” or, “I’m angry,” or, “I wish he wasn’t here…” or whatever those feelings were. She felt dishonest, I think, naming those feelings herself, but she could definitely talk them from the perspective of Clem.

 

Allison

Yeah.

 

Nova

So, I think it was really great for her — it was great for the two of us, I think, just to have this project that was something outside what was going on in the house. Yeah.

 

Allison

I can feel your psychology degree coming through here.

 

Nova

I know! It all folds back in, doesn’t it?

 

Allison

It does, everything is useful.

 

Alright, maybe tell us a little bit about your writing process, like what does a typical day look like for you?

 

Nova

OK, so my studio is between my house and the kids’ schools, so I take the kids to school and I walk back and I go get a coffee and then I come upstairs to the studio and I generally just write for, like, six hours and then I…

 

Allison

Oh, so you’ve got a separate space to go to?

 

Nova

I’ve got a separate space and it is fantastic, and there’s probably 20 or 30 filmmakers, writers, artists in this big space. Everyone is really diligent, no one talks much. Everyone is working a lot. It kind of makes you feel like you have to do stuff.

 

Allison

Wow.

 

Nova

It’s great.

 

Allison

And you go there six hours a day and write?

 

Nova

Yep. I go there pretty much every day, and I write… yeah, I write either during school hours or if my kids are getting picked up by my partner then I’ll work longer. But, it’s certainly changed how much I work, like having a separate space, it’s really good.

 

Allison

And are you always working on multiple projects? Or are you working on, like, for instance, what are you working on at the moment?

 

Nova

I’ve got another YA coming out in October. So, I’ve been doing that, and weirdly it’s based on the short film that I wrote… the first short film project I wrote —

 

That project is about two teenage boys who throw a rock off a freeway overpass and it hits a car. And Kristina Schulz at UQP heard me talk about that at Somerset last year and she said, “I want that book.”

 

Allison

I want that book too.

 

Nova

Yeah, so that’s what I’m doing. What I’ve done with it — and it’s been a hellish project, because I’ve decided to run it backwards, so it starts at the end with one of them in prison and it runs back through the four months that led them to this, you know, this end, I suppose, to the beginning.

 

I’m not good a structure, it’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, in terms of structure, and because it’s two boy voices, so it’s been a big learning curve for me to write boy protagonists, I think.

 

Allison

When you say you’re not good at structure… I’m finding that… like, you know, we’ve talked about the fact that you… which aspects of structure do you struggle with?

 

Nova

I think I struggle with the big picture stuff. I really… what I love about writing is the small moments, and I think big story arc stuff, which is I think why I fell off and on for like the filmic techniques. I get really bogged now in trying to understand it and trying to see it, the big picture. I just… my brain doesn’t think like that. It all thinks in little tiny moments, and so it’s writing a story that ran backwards with two protagonists and alternating voices, where they had to keep crisscrossing each other… it was just… I had maps all over the office and I rewrote that book like 13 times, and that just doesn’t… it’s such a hard thing for me to get my head around, so… yeah.

 

Allison

Obviously most of your narrative voices have been girls, how did you go about sort of capturing that boy voice? And to get two of them…

 

Nova

Two of them, I know.

 

Allison

… distinctively?

 

Nova

And it’s so much about their friendship, like it’s about their friendship devolving in the story. It’s not so much about what they do, but it’s about what they do having an impact on who they are as people.

 

I emailed all of the boys I knew, teenage boys I knew, and just grilled them about everything they did. I sent them lots of bits of the story, to try and get a sense about whether it was working. I had to learn about skateboarding lingo, because there’s quite a bit of skateboarding stuff in there.

 

And, it was really fascinating, because what they talk about is… it’s just different, I think, to what my memories of being a 15 girl was, you know? One of them was like, “I come home from school every night and I have a bath, and when I’m with my friends we just talk about skateboarding, we don’t talk about…” I just thought it was really interesting to kind of work out what they…yeah. So, hopefully it’s worked. I don’t know.

 

Allison

Were you skulking around skate parks, like eavesdropping?

 

Nova

No.

 

Allison

Because that’s what I would do.

 

Nova

Yeah, I’ve got a few friends who have got teenage boys who are massive skateboards, so…

 

Allison

Right.

 

Nova

But, pretty much the words are the same words that we used when we were, you know, in skate parks in the ’80s, so… they haven’t changed that much.

 

You still chuck an ollie, or whatever it is.

 

Allison

You do chuck an ollie. Yeah, you do. A person does chuck an ollie, I believe. Allegedly.

 

Alright, so you’ve got a novel coming out in October. So, you’ve obviously been editing and doing that. Are you working on other things at the moment as well? Like, I’m just wondering if you… when you’re working on lots of different things do you experience writer’s block, or do you ever have… you know, if you got to a studio and write for six hours a day this is obviously not a thing for you.

 

Nova

No, I don’t… well, I haven’t so far been stuck, because I think… I think actually the benefit for me of writing everyday means that I’m not stuck. I think if I spend too much time thinking I… I just discover that I like doing other things and then I get a bit kind of like… I really need to push through that feeling of, “I can’t be bothered writing today.” And if I do I’m usually kind of quite surprised by the fact that there’s ideas bubbling.

 

I really want to write… I started writing an adult novel, which will probably take years, but I really want to… I’ve written a lot of adult short fiction and I’d really like to develop something in that, you know… in an adult kind of voice. And I’m starting… thinking about another middle grade, because I’ve really loved working with that age group.

 

So, I’ve got lots of things…

 

Allison

On the go.

 

Nova

Yeah, and I’ve been doing… I’ve just written a show about the Chelsea Garden show for Foxtel, which has been real interesting.

 

Allison

Oh, I love the Chelsea Garden show.

 

Nova

It was the best project. It was so much fun. It was like, one hour, you know, about Australia’s attempt to get a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show.

 

Allison

Oh, that’s fantastic. When I worked at Homes and Gardens in London, back in the ’90s I got to go… we had a stand and I got to actually be there on the day that the Queen was there and the whole deal, it was very exciting.

 

Nova

I was trying to get them to take me, but they were like, “We don’t really need the writer there, actually.” I was like, “Oh come on!”

 

Allison

“Come on!”

 

Nova

But, they wouldn’t take me.

 

Allison

That’s hilarious.

 

Alright. So, now your partner is also a writer, a playwright.

 

Is it difficult having two writers in the house?

 

Nova

No, it’s actually really good. And he… he’s interesting, because he doesn’t really read.

 

Allison

He doesn’t read?

 

Nova

No, he doesn’t really… he’s not… he doesn’t read novels. And, so it’s always like that thing of going, “You’re never going to read my books.” But… but, what is fascinating about him is… and he’s really good at big picture narrative, like, at that big sort of structural stuff. And quite often I’ll say to him, “This is what I’m doing, what’s wrong with it?” And he’ll be able to fix it through conversation, often without even reading it.

 

Allison

Oh.

 

Nova

And he did actually read the backwards book, and he’s fixed it, really simply. So, he’s got a… so we do talk quite a bit about… I probably talk to him more than he talks to me, but we do talk quite a bit about story and we do usually read each other’s work. And, it’s good. I think it’s just nice, because you kind of get how frustrating and weird it is, I think.

 

Allison

Yeah, it is weird, isn’t it?

 

Nova

Yeah, it’s a really… and, you know, playwriting — oh, you think novel writing is crazy in this country, playwriting is like…

 

Allison

It sounds exciting.

 

Nova

It’s like one up from being a poet, I think. You know, it’s like that’s so hard. It’s such a hard, yeah.

 

Allison

When you start… you were saying when you had the idea with the kid’s, I mean you obviously started from a short film, but do you start with just an idea and start writing? Or do you use your scriptwriting techniques of storyboarding the whole thing before you start to fill in the pictures?

 

Nova

No, I usually write a really bad first draft.

 

Allison

  1. So you just bash it out?

 

 

Nova

Yeah, I just bash it out, and I’m really quick. The first draft is always really quick. And I usually have kind of no idea where the story is going. Or I might have a rough idea of where I want it to end, but with The Secrets We Keep I had no idea where that story was going to go, I just started writing it and it just sort of took its own natural shape.

 

I might start with sort of an idea of something that I want to explore, but, yeah, I write lots of drafts and get closer and closer each time to what it should be.

 

Allison

And how do you promote your work? Are you doing a lot of school visits? Are you online? I mean you’re obviously writing a lot. So, when and how do you fit in the other aspect of an authorial life?

 

Nova

It’s really hard, isn’t it? You think and spend so much of your time…

 

Allison

It is! It is.

 

Nova

… I’ve done lots of school visits the last couple of weeks. I went and spoke last night to a middle grade book club who studied by book at a bookshop, and it was just one of those things where I was like, “Oh, I can’t be bothered doing this.” And then I got there and these kids, so it was grades four to sixes, and they had all read Secrets We Keep and it was boys and girls. Their take on it was just so beautiful. It was one of those things where you go, “This is why I’m doing this. That’s right, I forgot that there was a reason for all of this craziness.”

 

So, lots of school visits that take an awful lot of time to prepare, but, yeah, they’re good aren’t they, school visits, I think.

 

Allison

Oh, they’re great.

 

Nova

Yeah.

 

Allison

They’re really good.

 

Nova

Yeah.

 

 

 

Allison

Are you sort of tweeting or doing Facebook? Are you doing any author platform stuff, Nova?

 

Nova

I’m not very good at all of that that am I, Allison? I do tweet a lot, but I’m not particularly good at it.

 

Allison

You’ve come on significantly since we first met. Wouldn’t you say?

 

Nova

I thought I should try and… I actually… my Twitter world seems to be sort of better at sort of actually making friends with other children’s writers than it does speaking to anyone other than that. But…

 

Allison

But, that’s half the thing with Twitter is the networking aspect and supporting each other’s work and, you know, all of that sort of thing.

 

Nova

Yeah.

 

Allison

I think that’s…

 

Nova

I am trying.

 

Allison

… valuable.

 

Nova

I’m trying to be better at that. But, it’s not a natural… I don’t find it naturally kind of easy. So…

 

Allison

Is it something that your publisher likes you to do?

 

Nova

I don’t think they…

 

Allison

Mind either way?

 

 

Nova

No, I don’t think so. I think they like… I mean, yeah, I’ve got quite a good… a few good contacts down here with bookshops, so I do quite a bit of that sort of stuff.

 

Allison

Oh great.

 

Nova

But, I probably could be doing more… you know, I’m not very good at sort of going around and signing books in all of the bookshops and stuff like that. I get really embarrassed by all of that stuff. And I know I have to be better at that, but it doesn’t come naturally.

 

Allison

OK, so it’s on the to-do list, “Must do better.”

 

Nova

Yeah, “Must do better…”

 

Allison

“Must do better…” OK.

 

Alright, we will finish up our interview for today, we could chat all day, but we probably don’t need to make this into a four and a half hour podcast. So, we finish up with our… the last question I ask everyone, which is what would your top three tips for aspiring writers be?

 

And now you’re wishing I had warned you about this, aren’t you?

 

Nova

Yeah.

 

Allison

I know, sorry.

 

Nova

I reckon, like, the sort of old favorite is time. Write every day. So, actually… you know, it is a craft, it is a skill and it is something that improves the more you do it, as much as you think you’re good at it to start out with you realize how far you’ve come a few books down the track.

 

Allison

Yep.

 

 

 

Nova

Understand that you will write and that you will rewrite and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite and that is OK. That’s not a bad thing, that’s a good thing because it’s just going to get better and better.

 

Allison

Just on that, how do you know when you’re done though? If you’re rewriting and rewriting and rewriting, like you were saying you have done 13 drafts of your current work, how do you know when the draft is ready?

 

Nova

I really believe that you can read something and if you’re honest with yourself about it and not just being lazy, because I used to be really lazy and I think I used to be quite arrogant and think I could just bang it out in a couple of drafts and I’ve now learnt that I can read a book and go, my work, and just sort of look at it really critically and say, “Does this feel like it’s holding together and making sense of all of the things I want it to make sense of?” I think I can be quite critical and quite honest with myself. And with this one I definitely knew up until that last draft that it just wasn’t right.

 

Allison

 

Nova

And now it feels like it’s at least in a space where it can go to an editor. You know? And there’s still going to be changes.

 

Allison

And then you do it again.

 

Nova

At least I’ve been able to hand it over, which has been really nice. So…

 

Allison

Alright, so that’s your…

 

Nova

That’s my second one.

 

Allison

Yeah, what’s your third tip?

 

Nova

My third tip is don’t be afraid. Try and be fearless. I think that’s the best thing about getting old is just I feel much more fearless as a writer and publically doing speaking and all of that sort of stuff. I just feel like I can… don’t think about who’s going to read it, just write the best story that you can and don’t be afraid of reviews or readers or anything, just write it for you, maybe.

 

Oh, that’s not a very good tip. Sorry.

 

Allison

I think don’t be afraid is an excellent tip.

 

Nova

Yeah.

 

Allison

It’s a really good one, because I think that sometimes self-consciousness and fear of what other people are going to think and all of those sorts of things hold us back from being completely honest.

 

Nova

Yep.

 

Allison

And I think that as you say, like, complete honesty when you’re writing things about what you really think about stuff is probably going to bring your voice out a lot more than if you’re trying to hold back.

 

Nova

Yep. Definitely.

 

Allison

Excellent tips.

 

Thank you very much for your time today, Nova.

 

Nova

Thanks, Allison.

 

Allison

We really appreciate it. And best of luck with the new book, which you told me earlier has just gone to reprint, which is fantastic news. So, congratulations on that.

 

Nova

It’s very good. Thank you.

 

Allison

Very exciting.

 

And, yes, hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot more.

 

Nova

Thanks, excellent.

 

Allison

Alright, take care.

 

Nova

Bye.

 

 

 

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