Ep 321 Meet Julian Leatherdale, author of ‘Death in the Ladies’ Goddess Club’.

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In Episode 321 of So You Want To Be A Writer: Meet Julian Leatherdale, author of Death in the Ladies' Goddess Club. What do you do if you're on an author panel? Should you have a website if you're not published yet? Plus, there are 3 copies of The Mothers by Genevieve Gannon to give away.

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Show Notes
Best Practices for Participating in Author Panels

Unpublished Writers and Websites: Should You Have One and What Should It Say?

Pitch Your Novel: How to Attract Agents and Publishers

Writer in Residence

Julian Leatherdale

Julian Leatherdale’s first love was the theatre. On graduation, he wrote lyrics for four comedy cabarets and a two-act musical.

His first novel Palace of Tears was published by Allen & Unwin in 2015 and HarperCollins Germany in 2016 and as an audiobook (Bolinda, 2016).

The Opal Dragonfly, set in Elizabeth Bay House in 1850s Sydney, is his second novel was released by Allen & Unwin in March 2018.

His latest novel is Death in the Ladies' Goddess Club published by Allen & Unwin in 2020.

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Competition

WIN: ‘The Mothers' by Genevieve Gannon

This podcast is brought to you by the Australian Writers' Centre

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Valerie Khoo

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Interview Transcript

Valerie

Thanks so much for joining us today, Julian.

Julian

My pleasure.

Valerie

Now congratulations on your latest book. It's just… And it's got such a striking cover as well. I love it.

Julian

That never hurts.

Valerie

Yes. Death in the Ladies' Goddess Club. Now, for those people who haven't grabbed a copy yet, can you tell us what it's about?

Julian

Sure. Well, it's set in Kings Cross in March 1932. The main character shares a rather claustrophobic little flat, but she loves it, with what she calls her view. Her favourite rectangle of sky looking back over the Cross. She's an aspiring crime writer at a time when women were not encouraged to write crime. She actually has a boyfriend that tells her that crime's too serious a business for women to get involved in.

So she's at home writing this novel. Her flatmate Bernice is one of the wild ladies of the Cross. She's a Bohemian. She's out having a good time at a party. And suddenly we hear a scream late in the night and Joan runs downstairs and a very good friend of Bernice's is discovered brutally murdered in the flat below.

And suddenly Joan finds herself thrown out of the fictional world of crime into the real world of crime. And she decides for a number of different reasons to undertake the investigation herself in the style of an amateur sleuth. There's people she may even want to protect. The list of suspects keeps growing, involving her very rich aunt and uncle, who live in a gorgeous apartment block that were very typical of that time in the Cross. She has a communist boyfriend. There's gangsters involved. By the end of it, everybody's after Joan, even including her heroine, who she loves, who is Special Sergeant Lillian Armfield, one of the first police officers in the New South Wales police force.

So it's a thriller. It's a crime thriller. But it's very much about the Bohemian life of the Cross rather than the razor gang life of the Cross. That creeps in, but I was really interested in the writers, the poets, the ladies who knew how to have a good time in Kings Cross at that time.

Valerie

And why were you interested? How did you get interested in that world? Specifically in the Cross and specifically in that Bohemian sector?

Julian

Yeah, well, that's good. I'm not a Bohemian at all, myself, I have to be honest. So I'm slightly in awe of people who are prepared to cut loose like that. But I have spent time around artists and writers, obviously.

And I thought, well, to be honest with you, I had actually planned a giant book that I was going to deliver to Allen and Unwin which was going to be a saga over a hundred years all set in the Cross. And my second book was so complex and lush that I decided to leave that as the story for an early period there in the Cross.

So I'd started researching the Bohemians as part of this larger project. And I found them fascinating, because all artists struggle with, you know, whoever pays the piper calls the tune. And yet all artists want to do their own good work. And so the Bohemians have always said, ‘we want to outrage the bourgeoisie. We don't want to be dependent on them'. But of course, they ultimately are. They have to sell their work, whether it be a book or a painting.

So that dilemma has always fascinated me. And I also, I mean, I didn't know, to be honest, I love finding out undiscovered Australian history. I didn't know the Cross was such an interesting place in the '20s and '30s. You know, you hear about the jazz age and all that. But one of its most distinctive features was the growth of the flat. And what that meant was that single professional women could live relatively cheaply close to the city. Just a 15 minute tram ride into town. So it created whole new opportunities for women to branch out and do their own thing.

So some of these people living in the Cross were just office girls and what have you. Typists and… But others took advantage of the low rents and found a likeminded community. Some people call it the Montmartre of the Cross, which I think is lovely.

And, you know, you look at the photos at that time and it was a much, there were brothels, you know, creeping around the edges. The razor gang territory had crossed over into Kings Cross. But it was a relatively quiet place, actually. You know, it looked like Parisian boulevards. I mean, Macleay Street was gorgeous with great big benches and what have you.

But, you know, I also wanted to challenge myself writing about sex and drugs and, you know… I think people look at the past and think it's all a bit coy, really. But, you know, people of the past had just as good a time as the hippies of the '60s. They were challenging the system in a similar kind of way. So I wanted to wake people up to that.

Valerie

So how did you do this research? On a practical level. Did you go to the State Library? Are there specific historical societies? What did you actually do to really get an understanding of what life was like in Kings Cross in the '30s?

Julian

Well, I was very fortunate that I have friends who have flats up there who allowed me to stay. So I did a lot of walking around the Cross just to learn the geography and get familiar with the atmosphere.

I just read a heap of books. I mean, there's some very good scholarship on the Bohemians that most people outside specialised areas wouldn't even know about. So there's a fantastic book written by Dulcie Deamer her name was, who was the self-appointed Queen of Bohemia. She was famous for turning up to an artist's ball in 1923 dressed in a dog-tooth necklace and a leopard skin tunic and outraging everybody at the party. She wrote a memoir. So I read memoirs. Jack Lindsay, Norman Lindsay's son, some of the writings of Norman Lindsay. Lots and lots and lots of photographs. Lots of interviews of people who lived in the Cross at the time. Most of that generation of course have passed on. So there weren't opportunities to interview them live.

So I could lie to you and say I buried myself in the State Library. I've done that for other books. But for this book, I just found very good popular sources and academic sources. There's a very good historian who writes well on femininity and female sexuality, which is just an astonishing subject which is quite shocking in terms of most people didn't think it really existed until the '20s.

So that was the kind of very broad reading. I would have read literally dozens of books to go more in-depth on not just the details of life in the Cross, but also the mindset. What were people thinking at the time? What were they hoping for? What were their motivations?

Valerie

So can you take us back to when you knew you wanted to write novels?

Julian

That's a very good question. I would say, not necessarily novels, I wanted to write from early childhood. And most writers I meet, not all, will say something very similar. So the novel looked like far too big a mountain to climb in my teenage years, although I did write short stories and radio plays and all sorts of things.

I did to my chagrin try to write a novel in my early 20s and it was really terrible. It was highly autobiographical and it really belonged in a bottom drawer. But it served one good purpose. I showed it to a publisher who then offered me a job. So that did no harm.

Valerie

Wow.

Julian

Yeah. A little boutique publisher.

So I put it on the shelf for a while, the idea of the novel. I worked in lots of other media, documentary for television, live theatre, cabaret. And then I got a passion for the idea of being a YA/children's writer. I had been working in collaboration with animators both here in Australia and in London trying to get up some short films and TV series. So that became my next big project. And they were going to be short novels. You know, I thought, I'd take it slowly at first. And I just loved writing those. And in fact, one of them is about to be published this year, having sat hidden away in the bottom drawer for a long time.

So they were, interestingly enough, one of them was set in historical fiction setting, in Edwardian London. And my agent said to me, back in about 2012, I think, ‘why don't you write historical fiction for adults?' And I said, ‘I don't know, really'. She said, ‘you write well, you obviously care a lot about research and getting things right. Give it a go'.

So I wrote Palace of Tears, the first novel. And Allen and Unwin picked it up very smartly. And it did well. So yeah, really, I'm a bit of a poster boy for late development in that sense, I suppose, as a novelist.

Valerie

And so with historical fiction, and you obviously do enjoy research. You've also done essays on the Hydro Majestic and Mark Foy. I think that would be fascinating. What about the research do you enjoy? And if you do enjoy it, which I suspect you do, is there not a chance that you would over-research and get too into it, too much into it for what you actually really need? So how do you balance that?

Julian

Yes, that's THE question, and I have met so many writers who tell me they've been researching their novel for ten years, and you just go – well, that's never gonna get written. So I hope you're enjoying the research!

It's a tough call. The important thing is it's the story that has the story that has to be served first and foremost. And I guess what the research in the early phase does is open your eyes to possibilities you never entertained. Aspects of history you didn't know about, ideas about sexual relations, it might be, or how people make money. Or just really quirky stuff that you thought you knew. I studied history at university and school. So many buried unknown stories.

But there is a danger that you will get trapped in your research. And it does help having a publisher who gives you a deadline. That certainly helps. Your first novel, of course, is the one where you put in everything but the kitchen sink for the first draft. And that did take… Mind you, that only took two and a half years, which is quite fast.

I think you have to have a very solid sense of at least a first draft story. You just can't wander into the territory without a compass, or you are going to get hopelessly lost. So you've got to decide which are the anchor points that you find interesting. It might be a character, it might be a place, it might be an incident, it might be combinations of those things. And they're the driving engine of your story. And then any research that hangs off the back of that is putting the lifeblood back into the story.

So yeah, god, it's a very difficult one. And I beg people not to become overly fascinated with their research. Because their readers won't appreciate it.

Valerie

Yes, that's so true.

Julian

Yeah. They want a story.

Valerie

Tell us about the story, then. In terms of the… If you could just give us some timelines so we have an idea of when you thought of the idea, how long it took for your first draft, if it was in stops and starts or whether you did it all in one go. And then the editing process, and so on. Basically from conception until release.

Julian

Yes. This is for the latest novel, I assume you mean?

Valerie

Yes, yes.

Julian

Yes. All right. Oh, it seems so long ago now. Um… Well, look, in fact, I think… I had already done some research towards this novel in that I had conceived a much larger project that involved the 1930s Kings Cross. So that actually bought me a little bit of time.

I pitched it to Allen and Unwin, oh, let me think, 2020, 2019… Yeah, my last book came out 2018. So I pitched very shortly after that. And they said yes, they liked the concept. So I was slightly ahead on research, which was great.

To be honest with you, I was off and running. You know, I really solidly hammered away at a first draft for the next year and a half, I would say. I knew I had a delivery date of I think it was October 2019, November 2019, something like that. Maybe a bit earlier, actually, August. Because we were editing, going through the whole structural edit and the copy edit at the back end of 2019.

So I did have a deadline, which was great. And yeah, look, in a way, it keeps you honest. Even with something like a crime thriller, there's always moments of panic where you think, I'm not sure if I'm going to make this.

Valerie

Haha.

Julian

Well, yeah, you really wonder. Because this is your first shot. Every book writes itself a little bit different, and this is my debut into crime.

And interestingly enough, I would advise you stay nice and loose around that. Don't get too tied down. Now that's an easy thing to say when there's pressure. But be willing to make changes, listen to your editors, listen to yourself, any doubts you may have. The famous saying is, if you have doubts about a piece of text then it's going to get picked up by somebody. So don't kid yourself.

I made some changes really around even the story in quite final drafts, and even in editing stage. Because I got some very good advice from both my structural editor and my copyeditor. Both of whom are geniuses. And merciless, in a good way. So yeah. And the book has been improved for that. I see that very, very clearly. You know, being prepared to really be very flexible as late as possible.

Valerie

Right. And also with crime, it has to be watertight. Because it has to make sense and all of that. So did you know what was going to happen in all of your plot points, or the key ones, before you started? Or did you just write and see what happens, you know, evolve it?

Julian

A bit of both. A little bit of both. I know that's probably not an awfully useful answer. But I certainly had an idea, I had a suspect, someone I thought was going to commit the crime. And that actually changed, interestingly enough. I don't think that gives anything away. So I kind of kept the solution from myself, which was great, you know. It would be a little dull just to trudge towards an inevitable conclusion knowing…

Valerie

Yeah, but aren't you scared that you won't be able to let it resolve?

Julian

I'm very good at… I'm going to boast a little now. And I'll probably get caught out by readers now. So far readers have said it's a very clever whodunnit and they didn't guess. I'm good at complexity. So I will understand if I tease this or change that or put a red herring in here how it's going to affect things further down the track. And I will jump around inside the book and double check how I've affected things.

And so, yes, red herrings were put here at one stage, then I had to shift them all over somewhere else. Sometimes, you know, I have to be honest, my books have a lovely complexity to them that I even have to reread them to remember all the twists and turns! But life is like that.

Valerie

Well, yes, so true. So you're a successful novelist now, but can you give us just a really quick potted history of your career in its entirety? Just so people can see the key steps or key aspects of your career, as diverse as it might be, to get you where you are today.

Julian

Sure. Sure. Yes, I don't know how… Every writer you talk to has their weird list of jobs they've had to get them to their writing career. My undergraduate studies were in history, interestingly enough, and theatre studies. My first love was theatre. Fortunately, I cured myself of the desire to be an actor early on. Because that would have been a tragic mistake. Although, I love performing, and I still love getting up and giving talks in public and what have you.

So that was my formal education, if you like. But while I was at university, I collaborated… Well, no, actually, I got commissioned to write a play out of the blue. There was a little theatre company that their playwright disappeared on them. And I wrote a play which was a musical. And I met this guy, Danny Katz. And he and I wrote this thing very quickly together. And then we started to write comedy cabarets and perform them in the mid-80s, which sounds a long time ago now. And they were great fun. And then I wisely dropped out, because I can't sing either. But we hired semi-professional people who could actually sing. And so they did fringe festivals and what have you.

So that was fun. And then he and I embarked on the somewhat ridiculous ambition of writing the great Australian musical, for which we did get funding. And that took up a few years. And then… I'm just trying to remember. Oh yes, look, the animation thing came along. No, no, sorry. Documentary first. I had had a job, which was actually very important, in my early 20s with a small publishing company. And we were working on a very big project called Australians at War, which was a 16 volume history, military history of Australia. And I was the staff writer and the photo editor. And so we had to churn one out – not churn – produce a very high quality book every three months for which I did a fair bit of caption writing.

So that conquered the fear of the blank page. You just had to produce good copy. And then actually out of that I got approached by… My wife, at that stage, had been working with Jane Campion and her editor had a husband who was a TV director and he approached me and said, do you know about this particular topic? Which was the post-war occupation of Japan by Australian troops. I said, I know nothing! So we ended up making two really fabulous documentaries for ABC television.

Again, it sounds a long way from historical fiction, but you have to shape a story, you take people's real testimony of their lives and again, it just, it sank in, little by little, that people had these amazing stories to share. So we did that. And then I went off and raised a family and did PR and all sorts of good things like that.

But always had something on the go. So I did try to write a… I worked in the NSW Cabinet office for a while as a public servant, writing advice for the Premier of NSW, would you believe! So I tried to write a novel out of that experience. And again, it was all right. It was progress. But it wasn't… I'm not sure if it was publishable or not.

Valerie

You mean, like a political setting kind of novel?

Julian

More actually a… More about a person lost in their career.

Valerie

Oh, okay.

Julian

So it wasn't a political thriller, particularly. I was a lowly public servant trying to find my way in the vast hierarchy of the public service. So it seemed like a golden experience, you know, to waste. I knew about how certain upper echelons of the public service worked. But I couldn't really shape it into a story. I had a shot.

So then somewhere in all that madness I decided to write kids books. And I was working with animators. And I loved the, even though they're all wonderfully mad, animators, they are great, they can be great collaborators. And of course the great reward as a writer is you see your characters form on the page in front of you, you know, you're like, wow! So we wrote, oh, literally tens of TV series bibles. We had meetings with Nickelodeon. If you think getting a book published is hard, you should try to get a TV series up.

Valerie

Oh yes, I can imagine.

Julian

But it was all a learning curve, it was all a learning curve. And then, as I say, yes, in the early 2000s I had been presenting manuscripts to my agent, children's manuscripts. And then she wisely said, have you thought about writing for adults. And that brings us up to today with the three books that I've written over the last six years.

Valerie

So tell us about when you are in the depths of your writing, when you're writing your first draft that is, do you have a writing routine? Do you have any rituals? Or do you have a goal that you need to achieve in a certain period? Tell us about that on a practical level.

Julian

Yes. I wish I could tell you there were these sacred rituals that I follow. And I have a dread of word length. You know, people reporting on word lengths and all that. Because it doesn't, you know, we're not slicing devon here. We're… Yeah, obviously, I'll have good days and I'll have not so good days. And I don't beat myself up about the bad days. In fact, they're the days where the brain is resting and probably doing a lot of good work, I'd say.

I have a very messy desk! With just dozens of books piled up that I'll go, oh, gotta grab that, grab that, grab that. So it's… Someone, quite a well-known writer, who unfortunately I can't remember their name, it was, oh god, someone very well known, said, writing can be at its best like a collage. You know, you really are gathering the material in the moment. And so you'll never write the same novel twice, even if it's the same story. The daily experience of something you'll read in the paper or something you'll watch on television or just this article you found. So you have to be open to that.

So that's what I don't sort of have too many rituals. I mean, I tend to probably write better from about mid-morning on, to be honest. I have my desk actually out on my dining room table, which you'd think is a high traffic area for the family. But I like that. I like the fact that I'm not in this far-too-quiet space, which would be a bit creepy. I like the fact that there's life going on around me.

Valerie

So you have to pack up every night?

Julian

No. No. We tend to eat in front of the telly.

Valerie

Okay.

Julian

Or I shove everything to the end… It's a long dining room table!

Valerie

But that's where the magic happens.

Julian

That's where the magic happens, yeah. And I don't want to question it too closely. I don't want to look at it too closely. I don't want to take it apart too much. It does seem to work for me. I think everyone will have an individual path for things that they need to do.

I will say that, you know, writing a novel and fitting it into the modern lifestyle is a difficult thing unless you achieve the goal of early retirement or something. So you need to be, I think, prepared to really create on the run. There's a wonderful documentary about Bob Dylan, who I would not be comparing myself to in any way, but him writing songs while on the road, and everybody's running around him setting up. And he's just there. He's not in some quiet place. He's just… Because the bubble's right around him.

Valerie

So do you write while you're on the road? Or only at your dining room table?

Julian

I might make the odd note. Because I have to travel to town on a train so I might, you know, when I'm researching I'll take notes. But even there, I will often read a book and just see what stays. I don't slavishly copy down all the notes. I just see what catches out of a memoir or an academic book. What were the four or five things that were inspirational in terms of fiction?

It is a kind of… It sounds all very chaotic, doesn't it? And serendipitous.

Valerie

No. Do you stop at a particular hour. Do you kind of like shut down for the day? Or your mind keeps going and you'll just keep writing into the wee hours?

Julian

No. I'm too old to do that now. I used to. I am a civilised person and I stop for dinner and the latest book set of Mrs Maisel or whatever it is.

Valerie

Oh yes!

Julian

That's great, isn't it? Just great.

Valerie

It's so good.

Julian

So I would become an utter bore if all I did all day was work on my book. I'd probably… Someone's going to jump up and say, but he is! But no, I need some time to myself, time to fill up again.

There's a very good rule, and it's one I do kind of follow a little bit, and that is to leave yourself something simple to do for the following day.

Valerie

What do you mean?

Julian

Well, it might just be an administrative thing. It might be, I've got to send an email to so-and-so. Or I've got to finish that paragraph. You kind of know how it's going to finish. But you deliberately don't finish it because when you get up in the morning, there's that sitting there and it's a nice easy way to start writing the following day.

Valerie

But don't you think, like, if I did that, I'd be so paranoid that I'd forget what was going to come next that I would have to finish it.

Julian

If you forgot it that easily it probably wasn't worth remembering!

Valerie

Okay.

Julian

No, that sounds really ruthless, doesn't it? But good ideas will survive the night, I should think. And in fact, they, you know, a really good idea will be worked on in sleep.

Valerie

Yes, true.

Julian

I'm lucky, I've been lucky to live in the mountains in that I, you know, I can walk to my village, I can go on little bushwalks. And that is a huge replenishment of the soul. Walter would understand that, I'm sure, Walter Mason, that you do have to top up your soul. You can't just grind gears. If you're grinding gears as a writer, you really need to stop. You really need to stop because you're not going to produce good work and you're gonna end up hating the process. What's the point of that? It's always got to be pleasurable.

Valerie

What was the most challenging thing about this novel? The process of this novel?

Julian

Ah, that's a very good question. I think it was having the confidence to write a crime thriller, because it is territory well-explored by other writers. So I had to just be a little bit bloody minded and go, no, I can do this! This will be fine. I'll be all right.

I did do, I did read a fair bit of crime as background. And was relieved to find it's not all police procedural or grisly true crime or anything like that. There's some lovely elegant literary and… Crime has so many very interesting aspects to it.

In terms of process, yes, it was probably… I was on a fairly tight timeline, I have to be honest. I knew I was working hard and fast. And you have to kind of forgive yourself, in a way. You can't beat yourself up about, oh, it could be… The book is the book. It could always be better, I suppose. Although I have to say I'm quite pleased with this, the way it's turned out. I've achieved most of what I set out to achieve, particularly the characters. Because some crime, you know, the characters get lost. We don't really care about them.

Valerie

Speaking about the characters, what challenges were there, if any, of where your protagonist is a woman?

Julian

Ah. Is this the, as a male writer writing…

Valerie

Yes.

Julian

Ah, I knew that question would come up. It always does.

Valerie

Of course it does!

Julian

Well, I do, to be honest, have some very good people to watch my back. So, you know, part of me doesn't believe that men and women, the overlap, is so vastly different in that we all are ambitious, we all probably seek love and security, and those things. But I do recognise women's experiences, particularly, oh god, as has been revealed in the last few years, as if we didn't already know, is extremely different. And I think I try to explore some of that, actually, with the way women are treated with everything from violence to contempt.

And you know, that hurts, as a man, but you just accept that's the system that needs to be fixed. You know, I have a son, and it's challenging.

But yes, how do I write a female character? I'm always delighted when I get a fan who tells me they're going to read more of ‘her' work. That always tickles my fancy. I'm like, gosh. Apparently, because that's emotional. I'm like, oh, okay, what does that say about men? But anyway… So I've got my wife, who's actually a novelist. She reads a very good early draft. And we'll pull me up on things that she thinks are just unconvincing or not adequate.

Valerie

Very handy.

Julian

What's that?

Valerie

Very handy.

Julian

Very handy, yes, very handy. And I have been of some use to her, as well, from the other perspective.

My editors are both women. And I trust them implicitly. And I think they would say, in fact, you know they have said there's some aspects of this that I think you've got very spot on in terms of how women would think, observe the politics of the day.

I don't pretend I can occupy the body and soul of a woman. I'm not silly. But I think as a writer you can take your imagination to places. And yeah, look, I just hope I've done an adequate job in that regard.

Valerie

Oh yes. And finally, what would be your top three tips to aspiring writers who hope to be in a position like you are one day, with successful novels under your belt?

Julian

Oh god. You're very, very lovely.

Finish something. Literally finish something. Just, even if it's not the great work you hoped. Just finish something. You'll never find out your voice and your technique and your style if you betray yourself by bailing, you know? Sure, if you're producing a dud, you probably need to bail out. But we live in a golden age of mentors and writing programs and what have you. I was a little early for some of that, so I've done it largely by myself but with help from my wife. We've been a bit of a team.

But I meet so many writers who tell me they're still working on a book or they're gonna do it one day. And I just say, well, I'm not telling you how to live your life, but just do it. You know? What's the worst that can happen? You end up hating it and you stick it back in the bottom drawer. Or you show it to a publisher and they'll reject you. You will get lots of rejection. I mean, you just have to take that on the chin.

But always write for the sake of writing. Write to your truth, write to your…

The only other thing I'd say, I'm going to sound so like an old fart, read! Read! Read good writers. Learn your craft. Don't turn in text that is badly punctuated or poorly structured. Agents are saying they're seeing a bit too much of this. And there is a bare minimum you've got to reach to be recognised as a professional writer.

And be professional. I think we're beyond three tips now.

Valerie

Good.

Julian

Be very professional in your dealings. You can't afford to have hissy fits or be…

Valerie

Dramatic.

Julian

Dramatic, yeah. Melodramatic. It's a business. And they do appreciate… You know, they understand writers are fragile creatures, to a certain extent. But ultimately, if they're publishing you, it's the greatest privilege you can imagine. And so you deliver on time, listen to your advice. When you get back those copyedits and those structural edits, your first temptation is just to cry and go, what have I done wrong? Because they can be quite extensive. But they're lovely. It's both slap and tickle. They don't just slam you. And I've been lucky in that they've never said that this book isn't going to go.

But take that advice very, very seriously. You don't… Finally, they say, of course the book is yours, it's your responsibility, what's out there is yours, it's got your name on it. But especially for younger writers, I mean, early career writers, these people in publishing have been doing it for a while. There are young literary genius writers who can break all the rules. I recognise that.

Valerie

But I think you need to know the rules first in order to break them properly.

Julian

I think so, yes, yes. I think so. I mean, I'm discovering the modernist writers like Woolf at the moment. And even our own Christina Stead and a few writers like that. And very young, they were breaking rules gloriously. You wonder if they'd get published now. And that's glorious. That's fabulous. I hope we always have writers like that who are willing to experiment and push the forms and all that. I do not want to see cookie cutter commercial fiction take over the entire industry. That would be disastrous. So there we go, there's about ten points there.

Valerie

Great advice. Yeah. I love it. All right. And on that note, congratulations on Death in the Ladies' Goddess Club. And thank you so much for your time today, Julian.

Julian

My big pleasure.

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