Ep 122 You’ve written your first draft: now what? And meet AWC graduate Fleur Ferris, author of "Black".

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podcast-artwork In Episode 122 of So you want to be a writer:  You’ve written your first draft: now what? Discover why indie magazines are flourishing and why reading will help you live longer. We touch on resume writers and reasons why someone will stop reading your novel. Meet AWC graduate Fleur Ferris whose second novel Black has been published by Penguin Random House. Plus: our latest platform building tip, 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.

Review of the Week
IndyBug from Australia:

A week ago I had no idea who either of you were – and now I wonder how I survived without you? I’ve never written a book but the aim is to one day but I love to read and am endlessly interested in the lives and experiences of those that write the books that keep me company during the dark hours. You discuss the most mundane subjects (tax ?) humorously and present other complicated and mind boggling issues associated with being a writer in such an interesting manner that I find myself evening dreaming (whilst walking the dog, of course!) about writing a book myself one day. This is vaguely terrifying and causes me to hide my podcasts from my patient other half but I have honestly loved every minute of the 10 I’ve listened to – and I’ve just started downloading from 100 to catch up on the rest. Thank you for such enjoyable and informative entertainment.

Thanks IndyBug!

Show Notes
So You Wrote a First Draft—Dear God! What NOW?

Australian indie magazines thriving as big publications struggle

Keep Reading: Books, Magazines, And Newspapers Could Help You Live Longer

Find a Nationally Certified Resume Writer

25 reasons why I stopped reading your book

Writer in Residence

Fleur Ferris

fleur ferrisFleur Ferris is the author of Risk (2015) and Black (2016), YA novels.

Fleur Ferris spent the first seventeen years of her life growing up on a farm in Patchewollock, North West Victoria. She then moved twenty times in twenty years. During this time, Fleur sometimes saw the darker side to life while working for a number of years as a police officer and a paramedic.

She now lives a more settled lifestyle on a rice farm in Southern New South Wales, with her husband and three young children.

Fleur’s colourful and diverse background has given her unique insight into today’s society and an endless pool of experiences to draw from.

Follow Fleur on Twitter

Platform Building Tip

Contact information

Competition

WIN 16 books in our crime and thriller short story competition

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 

Valerie

Thanks for joining us today, Fleur.

 

Fleur

Thank you for having me.

 

Valerie

Now very exciting because your second novel, which is called Black, is being released and your first novel is called Risk. But, just because there are some readers who maybe new to you, can you tell us what the book is about?

 

Fleur

Black or Risk? Are we talking Black?

 

Valerie
We’re talking Black.

 

Fleur

Black, yes, Black is about a girl who lives in a small country town and some of the people in the town thinks that she is cursed. So as a result of this she is a little bit isolated from some of her friends and some of the families. And, it sort of moves into bullying, for her. She desperately wants to leave the town that she’s living in.

 

And her name is Ebony, that’s why the book is called Black. And so it’s basically about Ebony, and how she deals with this curse and how that develops into something more.

 

Valerie

So, there’s a bit of a mystery as to why there is this curse going on, right?

 

Fleur

Yes, she’s lost a few of her friends, over many years, and they are unrelated incidents. So, some people believe that she’s bad luck, it’s bad luck to be friends with her.

 

Valerie

Now, this is for young adults?

 

Fleur

Yes, it is. Yep.

 

Valerie

So, your first book was also for young adults, just give us a quick recap on what that book was about, Risk?

 

Fleur

Risk was about two 15-year-old girls who go online and they meet a guy, and one of them then wants to meet in real life. So, she goes to meet and she doesn’t come back when she says she was going to. And that’s where that book starts.

 

Valerie

Yes, so there’s also a bit of a mystery going on there and it’s… the story slowly unfolds, well, maybe not slowly unfolds, but the story unfolds to then… so that the reader discovers what in the world happened to the girl.

 

Fleur

To Sierra, yes.

 

Valerie

Yeah. OK, great.

 

I understand that you have a background as a police officer and a paramedic, is that right?

 

Fleur

That’s right, yes. I was a police officer in Melbourne for a number of years and worked in places like St Kilda and Brunswick, out of Broad Meadows. I worked in sex offenses for a period of time, did some other temporary duties, such as special operations and a tiny bit of undercover work as well.

 

After that I traveled for some time and then did paramedics over in Adelaide, so moved to South Australia.

 

Valerie

Wow. At what point did you think, “Oh, I might become a writer now.”?

 

Fleur

Well, I was actually writing throughout that whole time. And, while I was over in Adelaide, studying applied science to be a paramedic at Flinders University, I was also out at Uni SA studying writing, because I did know then that I wanted to be a writer.

 

I had written three novels by then. So, I was typing away at this for a long time, before I even decided, “Yes, now I’m going to really concentrate on being a writer.”

 

Valerie

So, you were doing it out of interest at the time?

 

 

 

 

Fleur

Yes, and I knew that down the track it was something that I wanted to do, and I thought that I would put all of my energy into it at some stage. But, when I was younger it just wasn’t the right time for me to do that.

 

Valerie

Sure.

 

Fleur

And I really enjoyed the jobs that I was doing and the traveling that came with it, and just the experiences that I had from those jobs were fantastic.

 

So, I really enjoyed that.

 

And it wasn’t until I moved… once I qualified in Adelaide, I had been there for five or six years, I then moved back to Victoria to Mansfield and worked in the Alpine area. And that’s where I resigned from, but that was after I had children and that’s when I really thought, “OK, now is the time for me to concentrate on becoming a writer,” and I wrote differently after that. I wrote novels thinking, “Someone is going to read this and I’m going to submit this for public scrutiny,” basically.

 

So, it was a different way of writing and a different approach after that.

 

Valerie

Wow, so the previous novels that you wrote were kind of like a practice run, were they? And these — and once you finally made the decision you thought you’re going to write real stuff?

 

Fleur

Yeah, well, there was never pressure on those first ones, because I just didn’t have to let people read them. I left them in my computer and still to this day no one has ever read those books.

 

Valerie

Wow.

 

Fleur

So, it wasn’t until I had written novel #5 that I thought, “This is the novel that I’m going to send and try to get an agent.”

 

Valerie

How long ago was this decision and what did you physically do to start writing in earnest?

 

 

 

Fleur

OK, my daughter is nearly ten. So, it must have been — like, the decision when I thought, “OK, I’m writing this book to get it published,” may have been nine years ago now.

 

Valerie

Right.

 

Fleur
Maybe eight — maybe eight. I think I wrote another book before that, but I didn’t ever send that out. So, it might have been eight — seven or eight years ago.

 

Valerie

And at that point did you — what did you do to start writing in earnest?

 

Fleur
I basically wrote every chapter thinking it was for a competition and that every chapter would have to be read by somebody.

 

Valerie

Yeah, right, OK. That’s a good approach.

 

Fleur

It really changed, because that way every word matters. And every paragraph, the start paragraph is essentially, and then the next one, of course, because at any stage someone will stop reading if they don’t like it. And so if it doesn’t lead into the next and the next and the next. So, that’s how I approached it, one paragraph at a time.

 

Valerie

How did the idea for Black, your second novel, come about?

 

Fleur

It had been ticking over in my head while I was writing Risk, in fact it had been ticking over in my head for a number of years, that it was an issue that I wanted to explore. And, I just find that — like it was sort of like a creepy — it’s got a creepy element to it.

 

And there was some incidents that occurred that just sort of cemented in my head that, “Yes, it is an issue I want to explore.” And the fanaticism in the book, the creepy curse and the power that has on those believe in that curse, or even superstitions, it can affect how people behave and can affect what people will try and do and will try and achieve, and it can be very powerful.

 

So, I just wanted — not my protagonist to have that believe, but those around her and to explore what that meant for this girl living in this little country town, where really if you don’t fit into your country town you’re very isolated.

 

So, I grew up in a country town, and I certainly didn’t have the experiences that my protagonist had, but — thank goodness, but I understand that whole mentality and what is like living in a small town like that.

 

Valerie

Why did you choose to write for young adults? Because both Risk and Black are for young adults.

 

Fleur

Yeah, it wasn’t a conscious choice. The stories that came to me, the people in the stories, were that age.

 

So, when I was in character, I guess… I wasn’t ever thinking, “What would a 15-year-old girl do?” Or, “What would an 18-year-old girl do?” for Black. It was she is a student and this is happening, what would she do now? And how would she feel now? And how would that affect her and her family and friends around her?

 

So, it was never a conscious choice, that, “I will write young adult.” It’s just the two stories that got published were… now of course I understand all of that, like you learn with every book. And, not just about the writing, but about the publishing and how you’re branded by publishers and everything.

 

So, now I do make that conscious choice, that my protagonist will be of an age that will fit beside my other books.

 

Valerie

Yep.

 

Fleur

But, when I started, that’s just the book that got published.

 

Valerie

Sure.

 

Fleur
So…

 

Valerie

So, how much do you draw or have you drawn on your experiences a police officer and a paramedic in your books?

 

Fleur

In Risk there was a lot of that, because I did work in sex offenses for a period of time. And, so I just had the confidence to do those scenes. And, I still have friends in the police force, so I was able to ring them and say, “Does this still occur?” “Does that still occur?” “What departments are in…” because they change names. So, I was able to easily access that information and have it accurate right up to the time that it was published.

 

And I had experienced so many things in that time by just experiencing people and people in a crisis, and how that affects them and how they behave. And, even with the offenders, why people do what they do, and there are always reason, even if we don’t understand them, once you start investigating it’s very interesting because you start to think, “OK, now I see why he did that…” or she.

 

Valerie

Yeah.

 

Fleur

Even if it’s not something that I would agree with or that I would do myself. It doesn’t mean that you can’t understand it. And, so that is a huge thing in my novels that I would always hope to achieve that, that sort of understanding of why people are behaving the way they are.

 

Valerie

Do you start off, let’s say with Black, do you start off with this idea and then explore it? Or do you have to know what happens in the end before you start writing? How do you approach that creatively?

 

Fleur

In Black, the end scene was in my mind and I had played that scene in my head like a movie over and over. And, every scene — all of the scenes, where the big conflicts were, were very strong in my head. And, so that whole novel… I didn’t explore that… even though I didn’t sit down and write a plot, it was in my head very strong.

 

Valerie

Yes.

 

Fleur

And I knew what I was writing before I started.

 

Valerie

Wow.

 

Fleur

And Risk was the same. It was a very strong plot in my head, and I had done a lot of research, not necessarily to write a book, at first, just a few things happened in our area that scared me. So, I wanted to look into it. And, so that was the same sort of thing. That it was very strong and I could just sit down and write the story as it played in my head.

 

Valerie
Wow.

 

And so when you sat down and started writing this story, did you have some idea of like a word count goal you wanted to achieve each week or day? Or how did you get it out?

 

Fleur
Well, I think Black took me about four months. And I didn’t have word counts per day, but I had time on the computer per day. And, my daughter, my youngest was at preschool at the time, so I would drop her off. The library opened at 10:00. So, I had four hours of uninterrupted child-free time in the library, and that’s the time that I just sat down with no social media and just wrote.

 

And I was able to achieve a fair bit in that four hours. But, with distractions. And, we run a farm as well, so there was a few things that stopped me writing that. And then I had to go back and start again. I like to keep my momentum when I start writing, just to start the book and finish the book without actually getting interrupted.

 

Valerie

Tell us about your typical day then. Do you have to juggle running the farm as well?

 

Fleur
Yes, I do. In summer I manage the rice. We grow rice on our farm. So, we have a lot of water coming out to the properties. So, from October right through until late February/March, my job would be once the kids go to the bus, or before they go to the bus, check that we’ve got no major damage overnight or anything like that and make sure that the water levels are where they’re meant to be. And it’s just checking basically everything. And then I come back and start.

 

Then the kids come home at 4:00, so I check rice before and after, like, two times a day. Writing fits in with it. It’s quite a good job for me as a writer and a mum, because everything sort of fits and works.

 

Valerie

It sounds like live in a small town?

 

Fleur

I’m on a rice farm, so I’m actually way out in the middle of nowhere, it feels like in the middle of nowhere. But, there is a community here and there’s a school nearby, and the farms are relatively small, so neighbors, but there’s no town as such where I live.

 

Valerie

So, it’s smaller than a small town?

 

Fleur

Yes, there’s no shops here. There’s a silo and a bulk            fuel depot and a school.

 

Valerie

Right. So, it’s smaller than a small town. In your book you’ve explored a girl living in a small town, and as you say it’s hard because everyone, you’re growing up in a small town, and if everyone thinks your cursed then everyone knows about it.

 

Fleur

Yeah.

 

Valerie

Does everyone know what you do now?

 

Fleur
Well, I guess in a sense.

 

Valerie

Do they ever think that you’re writing about them?

 

Fleur

I don’t think so, no. No, basically because the topics that I’ve written about have not been anything to do with being out here, where we are.

 

The towns that were in mind when I was writing Black were more like Mansfield, where I came from. And Mount Beauty, I spent a lot of time up at Falls Creek through the winter. So, those towns where there’s water and fog, because part of that book is that she works at a water plant. So, there was more of those towns, rather than on a farm environment that she was living in.

 

Valerie
What has been the hardest aspect of writing novels?

 

Fleur
I think once I wrote the novels and I got an agent — the waiting to find out whether or not it was going to progress. I seemed, back then, to wait for a long time. And I just feel for anybody now who is in that same boat, because it feels like it will never come. And you just have to keep going and keep hoping that one of your books will make it over the line. And that’s the really hard point and that’s where people will drop out and think, “No, it’s wasting my time, I can’t do this anymore,” because you put so much into writing a book. And, then to sit and wait, and it could be six months or a year, like Risk took 18 months to place.

 

I wrote another book before that, which was rejected, Jolted, and Jolted was the book that got me an agent. So, Risk was written after that. So, Jolted went out and of course we did all of that waiting and got rejected, and then Risk when out and finally got published.

 

Valerie

Tell us about the process of getting that agent, how did you do it?

 

Fleur

First of all I got used to being critiqued and being read by people by using an online website. I was also doing a course with you guys, which basically when you write something and you know that somebody is going to be reading it, your peers as well as your instructor. It gives you confidence and lets you know where you sit.

 

So, that gave me the confidence and the courage to actually approach an agent. I think I saw it on Twitter advertised that my agent that I did end up getting, Tara Wynne from Curtis Brown, was at the Writer and the Murry Festival. And she had five sessions. And there were publishers there too, also having sessions, pitch sessions, with aspiring writers. And so I applied to the Festival for a 30-minute session with Tara, a one-on-one, to pitch my book and myself.

 

And, so that’s where it started I drove over there and did the 30-minute thing and she asked to see the full manuscript at the end of that. And, after that, six weeks later or so, she offered to represent me.

 

Valerie

Great.

 

Fleur

Yeah, it was fantastic. I’m actually going back to that festival this year as an author.

 

Valerie

Oh good.

 

You did the course Writing Books for Children and Young Adults.

 

Fleur

Yes.

 

Valerie

Why did you decide to do it and what did you get out of it?

 

Fleur

I wanted to do it because when I was writing Jolted, I knew I was writing a young adult book then, and purposely did that. So, that’s when I started to really write and to do that research that I was talking about earlier. And, I didn’t know where I was at and so I really needed advice and someone in the industry to read my work and to give me feedback on my work, and also the peers. And I really got a lot from that because the feedback was great, actually while I was doing that course, I think it was a five-week course, or a six-week course, while I was doing that course that’s when I was offered representation.

 

Valerie

Fantastic.

 

Fleur

Yeah, so it was — that was sort of all amongst it and doing that course sort of put me in the right place as well, to submit my work.

 

Valerie

Gave you the confidence to submit your work?

 

Fleur
Yeah. And I also got feedback of what I was doing wrong, do you know what I mean? It was excellent, so I would recommend people do courses like that, so they can see where they sit amongst a group of people who are all trying to achieve publication.

 

Valerie

What’s the most rewarding thing about writing novels? If the hardest thing is the waiting, what’s the thing that brings you the most joy?

 

Fleur

The actual writing of the first draft. It’s just what I love. I get so into the book, so into the writing the story and the characters, and I know the main plot, but the sub-plots all happen on the page while I’m writing. So, that’s really exciting to see where it develops.

 

And I love the fact that it can fit in with my life. So, it’s what I’m passionate about, but family, of course, I’m passionate about too. So, it really works for me. So…

 

Valerie
When you’re writing a book like this where basically there’s a mystery unfolding and the reader needs to be taken along that journey, it’s so important for the pacing to be right, and also for the clues or the non-clues to be dropped into the right place. Is that something that you felt that you did instinctively? Or after your first draft did you have to go back and go, “Oh my god, that’s all wrong there and I needed to actually bring that in earlier,” or, “That’s too fast,” or, “That’s too slow?” How does that work for you?

 

Fleur

Mostly the pacing comes instinctively, and I’ve read a lot of books and have done some courses about pacing and about writing thrillers. So, I’m aware of those things. So, what I said earlier about writing every chapter as if it’s going to be in a competition, when I finish a chapter I look at that and go, “OK, have I achieved what I need to achieve for the reader? Have I given them everything? Have I let them slow down where they need to and have I made them read faster?” So, there’s all of these little things that I do, and made sure that there’s questions at the end of every chapter. And the pacing, of course, when you want them to read faster, I’m typing faster and I’m thinking faster and my sentences become choppier and shorter. And I think because I live and breathe that moment that happens naturally on the page too.

 

Valerie

Yep.

 

Fleur
And then, of course, it all gets pulled apart when it gets sent into my editor. And, so where I’ve missed the mark, that’s when they come and say, “OK, here, here, and here we need to edit.”

 

Valerie

When you’re living the moment on the page and your typing gets faster you probably draw shorter breathes. You’re writing a thriller and there’s scary bits, obviously, how is that for you? Living in a remote farm?

 

Fleur
When I was writing Black I really creeped myself out with a certain character, and I could not write at night. I couldn’t read my story back at night because I hated that character being in my headspace at nighttime. So, working at the library was also because of that.

 

Valerie
Oh wow.

 

Fleur

Beautiful, lovely space in daylight hours.

 

Valerie

Yeah.

 

Fleur
Yeah, so that was fantastic to have somewhere to be, to write those scenes.

 

Valerie
Gees.

 

So, what’s next for you? Are you writing something else already?

 

Fleur

Yes, I am. I’ve got my next book. I won’t reveal the title, just because I’m not sure if it’s going to stay. But, it is another young adult thriller. It’s got — the difference with this one is it is from two different points of view. So, yeah. It jumps back in time, five years ago, to a 14-year-old boy and it is a current time to a 17 or 18-year-old girl. The story comes together.

 

Valerie

It sounds complex. How do these things form in your brain? Like, how do these ideas even get planted?

 

Fleur
I have a lot of ideas, every day, for different novels. And, some stick and some don’t. So, I’ve got two very strong novels. This one has been in my head since before I started writing Black. I do a program with the local primary school. And, it was one of the stories that one of the children was reading to me, and it was their reader. So, you listen to every child in the school read. And, the child was so into this story, and I was too. I didn’t want that child to finish reading. And, it sort of sparked off this idea in my head for a young adult book. This was a middle grade book, but, yeah, it sparked off an idea for me.

 

And that just grew and grew and until I thought, “Yes, I have to write this book.”

 

Valerie

When an idea sparks like that, it sounds like you do keep in your head. Do you write any of it down, even if it’s just formulating characters or some of their backstory or anything? Or do you let it brew just in your head until you’re ready to write it?

 

Fleur
Yeah, it all just brews in my head.

 

Valerie

Really?

 

Fleur
I never write it down.

 

Valerie

Your head must be a unusual place to be.

 

Fleur
A busy place.

 

Valerie

When you are brewing it, is that, like, when you are checking the rice or while you are…

 

 

 

Fleur

Yeah, doing lunchboxes and in between anything else. Like, at the moment I’m writing this one, but when I’m not writing this one I’ve got the next one going as well. And that’s very strong, the next one, and I’m very excited about it. So, I have to keep pushing that one away, because it’s interfering with my characters in this one.

 

Valerie
So, the next one is already brewing in your head. Don’t you feel, “I’m going to forget if I don’t write it down?”

 

Fleur
No, I figure if I’m going to forget, they’re not worth it.

 

Valerie

Right.

 

Fleur
And this is so strong, I can see the scenes. It’s like a scene in a movie.

 

Valerie
Wow.

 

Fleur

And so you then play that scene over, and then the next scene will come. And the end scene might be there. And the middle scenes won’t be, but then by the time I’ve finished the one I’m writing, they would have filled in and it will be away I go.

 

So…

 

Valerie

When you’re writing scary things, or things that are a little bit dark, especially for this age group, have you had to censor yourself or kind of go, “No, really, that’s too much. I’ve really got to pull that out.”?

 

Fleur
Yes. There was a scene in Risk that I couldn’t write. I just wrote ‘x’ scene, and I couldn’t write it because I had family around, and it was a very dark scene and a very emotional scene. And I needed space. It was like I knew I was going to have — like, I was grieving.

 

And, so I basically finished the whole book. And then I went to my house in Mansfield and I sat down by myself and I wrote that scene over two days, where I just poured it out. And, then I got back in the car and drove home.

 

Valerie
Oh my goodness.

 

And so what did your family think of your decision to quit paramedics and become a novelist?

 

Fleur
Well, the decision to quit paramedics wasn’t so that I would just concentrate on novel writing. When I had children it became too difficult to juggle babies and shift work. So, it would come to six o’clock, when I was meant to knock-off, and a quarter to six you would get a job that you just cannot refuse. And it might take you four or five hours for that job.

 

Valerie

Wow.

 

Fleur
So, it was very difficult to juggle childcare. And, my husband is also a paramedic, so two shift workers, family, just — yeah, it was too hard.

 

And so that’s how we ended up having a rice farm, because when we went from two incomes to one, we thought, “What else can we do here?”

 

Valerie
Right.

 

Fleur
So, I was from a farming background, so that’s how we ended up moving back out to a rice farm and seeing how that went.

 

Valerie
What drew you to police work in the first place?

 

Fleur
I think the variety. I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I left Year 12. I started a teaching degree at first, and after a number of months thought, “No, this isn’t right for me.”

 

And then police was sort of in mind that whole time, thinking that I would like to do that.

 

And so I thought, “I may as well apply and see what happens.”

 

And once I got into it and was accepted, it still took a year for me to actually get in, because it was a slow time for the police department then, when they were recruiting. And, so I just worked odd jobs for that year.

 

But, yeah, definitely the variety and I really loved it when I got in too for that reason. You didn’t know from one day to the next what you might be doing. And a lot of the work was so rewarding. It was amazing and I saw things that I had never dreamt of even existing.

 

So, I really treasure those years of that — I guess personal development for me, understanding the world more. I was only 19 when I went in.

 

Valerie

Do you think you will continue to write for young adults or do you think you will try other age groups?

 

Fleur

I would love to try other age groups. I would love to do some books for middle grade. And, I have an adult book in my head, but I haven’t sort of thought about that, because that would mean being published in a different department, even if I was with my same publisher. But, I have started writing the middle grade book. And I think with children the age that I have, I’ve got three; six, eight and ten — six, eight, to nine, nearly ten. And, it was just a good age for me to write those books, because it’s what I’m doing, what I’m living. I see what they love, our house is full of books for them.

 

So… it’s… it’s like I’ve got research going on without even trying.

 

Valerie

Yeah, sure.

 

Wow, that’s so exciting that you are now going back to that writers’ festival as an author as opposed to going there as an attendee. That must be an amazing feeling.

 

Fleur
It is, because I feel that festival is where I started. And, it’s not where I started writing, but it’s where — it was a real turning point for me, because it’s where I met my agent. Like, I would have never been able to self-publish. I don’t have the skills. I would have had to outsourced everything. I guess you can learn those skills. But, I really admire those who can do that, but I don’t know if I would have ever gone through with it. And I don’t know if I ever would have had the confidence to do that. So… yeah, I really admire and respect the ones that are doing that, because it’s such a big deal.

 

And after going through publishing with a traditional publisher, and you see the team behind the book, and what it takes to get that book out, it made me realize even more that I lack those skills. So…

 

Valerie

What’s the grand master plan, to, like, write a book a year? Or something like that?

 

Fleur
Definitely young adult books. I’d love to write a young adult book and a middle grade book a year. And the middle grade would be a smaller, less words.

 

So, I think my first drafts are around 50,000 or 60,000. And my books tend to grow in the editing phase, rather than shrink. So, yeah, so I would love to do one young adult and one middle grade.

 

Valerie

What’s your advice for aspiring writers who, you know, were like where you were when you went to the writers’ festival that time when you hadn’t had any representation or a book deal or anything and they are hoping to be in a position like you are now?

 

Fleur
I guess not quitting is the first thing. And once you’ve finished a book and you’ve submitted it, to then just write the next book. So, get yourself a portfolio of work. And, do courses, speak to people and follow people’s career who are already achieving what you hope to achieve. That was a huge learning curve for me, to follow those who were already getting published, so Australian authors writing for the category I was aiming for.

 

Courses, you’re just continually improving your skills. Like, you can do so many workshops at writers’ festivals or courses like at the Australian writers’ center or universities or whatever is going. You always take something away from it and it improves your work.

 

Valerie
And you did the course while living on the farm, right? You did the online course?

 

Fleur

Yeah, I could have never had done it without it being online, not over five weeks. I could probably fit a weekend in and travel. But, just how we’re set up with farm and kids, it makes it really difficult.

 

So, the online course for me was perfect. And I was able to do it in my time, whenever I wanted, whenever I could. So, it wasn’t structured that I had to be there at three o’clock on a certain day or anything.

 

And you could access all of that information at any time. So, I could read what the others had said and join conversations without having to be in real time with them. So.. and I’m still friends with the women that I did that course with. And, it’s fantastic. So, they were a huge support to me over that time when it was taking so long and I was getting rejected for novel #5. It was terrific. The instructors were great too, yeah.

 

 

 

 

Valerie

Alright, well, Black is out, everyone. So, make sure you go buy it for yourself or a young person in your life. And go back to the back catalogue and take a look at Fleur’s first novel, Risk as well.

 

Thank you so much for your time today, Fleur.

 

Fleur
Thank you. Thanks, Valerie. It was great to talk to you.

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