Ep 323 Meet Sandie Docker, author of ‘The Banksia Bay Beach Shack’.

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In Episode 323 of So You Want To Be A Writer: Meet Sandie Docker, author of The Banksia Bay Beach Shack. Learn how to balance freelance and creative writing. Your Kid's Next Read is hosting a massive book giveaway. Discover tips on where to find ideas when writing for kids. Plus, we have 3 copies of The Banksia Bay Beach Shack to give away.

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Show Notes

Presenting the HUGE Your Kid’s Next Read #30BooksIn30Days GIVEAWAY

Writing For Kids: Where To Find Ideas

Writer in Residence

Sandie Docker

Australian author, Sandie Docker grew up in Coffs Harbour, and first fell in love with reading when her father introduced her to fantasy books as a teenager. Her love of Women’s Fiction began when she first read Jane Austen for the HSC, but it wasn’t until she was taking a translation course at university that her Mandarin lecturer suggested she might have a knack for writing – a seed of an idea that sat quietly in the back of her mind while she lived overseas and travelled the world.

Now back in Sydney, Sandie writes about love, loss, family and small country towns. Her debut novel, The Kookaburra Creek Café, was released in 2018, The Cottage At Rosella Cove in 2019, the German edition of The Kookaburra Creek CafeDas kleine Café der großen Träume, was released in Jan, 2020, and her third novel, The Banksia Bay Beach Shack, was released in March, 2020.

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Competition

WIN: ‘The Banksia Bay Beach Shack' by Sandie Docker

 

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

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Interview Transcript

Valerie

Thanks for joining us today, Sandie.

Sandie

Oh, thank you so much for having me, Valerie.

Valerie

Congratulations on The Banksia Bay Beach Shack. For readers who haven't got their hands on this book yet, can you tell us a bit about what it's about?

Sandie

Yeah, sure. Thank you so much. The Banksia Beach Shack is a story of first love and last chances, and of the lies and the truths that we tell that can affect people's lives for generations to come.

Valerie

Wow. Okay. So, now your previous novels are The Kookaburra Creek Cafe and The Cottage at Rosella Cove. You've got a thing about small towns, don't you?

Sandie

I really do have a thing about small towns. Very possibly because I grew up in one, I think. And I do actually miss it now that I live in Sydney.

Valerie

Really?

Sandie

Yes, I do. I'm a country girl at heart. And my husband's a city boy. So that causes quite a bit of conflict, actually!

Valerie

Right. So The Banksia Bay Beach Shack is obviously set in Banksia Bay. Now what kind of town is that? Just to give people a sense of place.

Sandie

Yeah, it's a really small close knit town. And it's nestled amongst some banksia-covered hills on a lovely little beach with a cute jetty and a lovely shack there. And it's a town where everybody knows everybody and everybody knows each other's business. It's also a town where secrets can get hidden quite well. And there's a bit of a surfing culture in the town, as well. And it's probably, out of all the small towns that I've written, the one that feels closest to home to me.

Valerie

It sounds like an idyllic town. I want to go visit there.

Sandie

Yes, absolutely.

Valerie

Can you give people an idea of the premise? It opens, I'm not giving anything way, because this is literally the first page, it opens with someone's passing. And then what happens?

Sandie

Yeah, absolutely. So Laura, our protagonist, is at the funeral of her grandmother. And her grandmother pretty much raised her all of her life. And during and after the funeral she discovers two things. She discovers an old photo of her grandmother at the beach. And she knows that her grandmother always hated the beach. And the inscription on the back says, “Sisters of summer.” And she also knows that her grandmother never had a sister. And then after the funeral she discovers a broken pendant in amongst her grandmother's things. And a postcard from Banksia Bay.

So she puts all of these little clues together and decides that she needs to go to Banksia Bay to find out what it was in her grandmother Lillian's past that meant so much to her about this place.

Valerie

Now how did the idea for this novel form? Was there a light bulb moment where you came across a pendant or an old photo yourself? Or did this idea evolve over time?

Sandie

Oh, I have the worst origin stories of any author I've ever met.

Valerie

Okay!

Sandie

You know, they always have these amazing stories about trekking through the Himalayas and coming across a monk and that's how they came up with their story. I've got really awful origin stories.

This one, I know, it's terrible, this one, I was actually at home in Coffs Harbour one Christmas I think it was. And we were walking along one of the beaches up there just after rain. And I don't know if you've ever walked along a beach just after rain, but the sand is always really cold and damp. And I was barefoot on the beach walking and I felt that dampness and it reminded me of a moment from my childhood, where I was once sitting on a beach after rain and the damp. And it kind of seeps all the way into your bones.

And I had this image of a girl sitting on a beach during a rain storm, the cold seeping into her bones, but her not getting herself out of the weather. And I was thinking, okay, why? Why wouldn't she get out of this rain? Why wouldn't she leave the beach and get dry? What would make somebody sit there in quite a depressed state she was, in my head, and just letting the rain fall on her on the beach.

And that was the first scene, so to speak, that came into my head for this novel.

Valerie

That's not a boring origin story!

Sandie

Walking on the beach! We all do that!

Valerie

Okay. So that was the seed of the novel. But how did that then get fleshed out? What did you do from that point to flesh out the whole rest of the plot?

Sandie

Yeah. A lot of your listeners will probably be familiar with the terms plotter and pantser. I am absolutely a pantser. I fly by the seat of my pants. I don't plan my novels. So all of them have started with just that one scene, like the beach scene. And then I sit down and I ask myself the questions: who is she? Why is she sitting there? Why is she so upset? What's going on? And I just let it grow from there.

Valerie

Oh, wow. Okay. So give us a little bit of an idea of the timeline, then. So from the point where you had that image in you head, planted in your head, how long then did you work on, did you pants, before you ended up with a first draft of your manuscript? And then the key points from there until publication? Just briefly.

Sandie

Sure. A lot of my pantsing involves marinating in my mind. So I didn't put pen to paper on this one for quite a while. It was in my mind for, gosh, at least twelve months, just sort of swimming around in there and thinking of different elements that could maybe be brought into the story.

And when I started putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, I guess, it took about five months to write the first draft.

Valerie

Wow. So when you were writing that first draft, were you effectively writing fulltime? Can you tell us a little bit about your typical writing day during first draft?

Sandie

Yeah, it is pretty much fulltime. And because I'm a pantser, I'm also a procrastinator. So I tend to find myself quite tightly up against my deadlines, because in my head I've got all the time in the world. And so I'll watch something on Netflix, and then I realise I haven't got all the time in the world. And so it's quite frenetic for me.

So I write during school hours when my daughter is at school. And then nighttimes once she's in bed, as well.

Valerie

Every day?

Sandie

Ah, when a deadline is looming, absolutely it's every day!

Valerie

So with this particular book, did you have a deadline by which you had to produce a manuscript?

Sandie

Yes. So I signed my contract with Penguin for this one in the October, and I had to have the first draft in by the 1st of April.

Valerie

Okay. So when you were writing then, during school hours, do you aim for a word count? Or getting to the end of a particular scene or chapter or anything like that?

Sandie

Yeah, this is the first time I've actually had to do that. With The Kookaburra Creek Cafe and The Cottage at Rosella Cove, I actually had those manuscripts finished before I got signed with Penguin. And they took years and years and years. So this was a very different experience for me, writing The Banksia Bay Beach Shack. I had never cared about word count before. But being on such a tight time frame, you know, five months to write a novel, I did actually start paying attention.

And I would set myself mini goals. At first, I didn't know what they were, because I didn't know how many words I could write in a day, because I hadn't had to look at it before. So I started small. Can I get 500 words done? Oh yeah, that was actually quite easy. Oh, tomorrow, can I get a thousand? And that's how I did it. And 2000 is a good day at the computer. I have done 5000 in a day. That was a hard slog. Yeah.

Valerie

And so did you, as a pantser, did you ever write yourself into a corner? Or realise, this is not going in a useful direction, I'm going to have to chuck it out?

Sandie

I actually find it a little more freeing in that regard. I would be worried if I had a plot plan written out. Then I would get written into a corner and not know how to get out. But being a pantser, I've got that freedom of going off on tangents and seeing where they go. And usually, if I actually listen to my characters, what they're telling me is usually the right thing to do. So if I'm in tune with them and follow their lead… We like to think we're in charge as writers, but we're not. The characters are absolutely in charge. And I find if I listen to them, they always lead me in the right direction.

Valerie

So tell me a little bit more about what you mean by listening to your characters. How do you do that?

Sandie

Um… I don't know how to answer that without sounding like I should be locked up in a padded room in a white jacket somewhere.

Valerie

Go on!

Sandie

I find, and I think a lot of authors find the same thing, that our characters speak to us inside our own minds. And they'll have conversations with us. Or they certainly do with me. And I might have in my logical side of the brain an idea of where I think someone is going, and if I try to force that, they will actually stop me. It'll be, you know, it's like a daydream, I guess. Where they're sort of telling me, actually, no I want to turn right not left. And like, no, no, no, but I've got this plan for you! And they're like, yeah, but no.

And when I follow them right instead of left, then it's like a light bulb moment, I guess, where their story then becomes really obvious to me. And I go, aha! That's what they're meant to be doing.

Valerie

Now this book, as you mentioned, the protagonist Laura, it opens with her grandmother passing. And it goes on to discuss, to reveal a little bit more about her grandmother. So obviously, elements of the story were set in the past, in the 60s.

Sandie

Sixties. Yep.

Valerie

What did you have to do research some of that time and what was around and some of the references that you made? And what life was like?

Sandie

Yeah, well I was born in the mid-70s, so the 60s is not an era that I have lived through. So I did have to research quite a bit. And it's really simple things like, what was the popular music at the time? And for someone who wasn't of that era, I could say something like, oh it was The Beach Boys, obviously. But when I'm talking about 1961, Beach Boys actually weren't popular in 1961. They were a little bit later than that. So I had to get those elements right. And that's what I had to research.

And what was school like? Because we do actually see some of our other characters, Virginia, Gigi, her schooling life. Did they wear uniforms back then? Particularly in small country towns. How many kids would have been at the school in a small country town in those days? Those were the sorts of things that I had to look at.

Valerie

Where would you research how many kids would have been in a small country town, that sort of thing?

Sandie

Yeah, yeah. And a town of the size that I had in my head, would they have gone to school in their own town, for example?

Valerie

Right. But where would you get that information? Where did you research that?

Sandie

Well, Google is an author's best friend!

Valerie

Right!

Sandie

And also, using your network of connections. So there were a couple of times I got out on Facebook and said, those of you who grew up in the 60s, and I would ask them a question. And they would come back and answer. So I guess that's sort of like crowd sourcing, almost, the information, and getting their personal experiences. Which is always better than some textbook somewhere.

Valerie

And how did you… Did you research things like Miss Dally-Watkins deportment school?

Sandie

My grandmother is actually a graduate of…

Valerie

Oh really?

Sandie

Yes. Of Miss Dally-Watkins. So I knew a little bit about that.

Valerie

The late Miss Dally-Watkins now.

Sandie

Yes, I know, not that long ago, which was very sad.

So I'd sort of, I'd grown up with the knowledge of what that was and who went there and that sort of thing.

Valerie

So can you give listeners just a bit of an idea, just a potted career history so far, so that they get an idea of what you've done until now, three-time novelist.

Sandie

Yeah. It was not a direct path at all. Or a logical path. My first adult job, I suppose, was as a flight, working at Flight Centre as a travel agent. Yes. At the time, I was very young at the time, thinking, oh I'll get to travel the world. It didn't suit me, that kind of a job, so I left there.

And I went to work in administration at the University of Newcastle. And I stayed there for a few years. And then I trained as an ESL teacher, English as a Second Language. And I taught that for approximately ten years, both here in Australia and in London. And I loved that!

Then I had children and I stopped work for a while. And that was when the writing became a thing.

Valerie

Right. So how did you get interested in it in the first place? Because, you know, what you were doing wasn't really directly related.

Sandie

No, not at all. Not related at all.

I had studied Mandarin at university.

Valerie

Oh!

Sandie

I know! Just a random fact about me. And part of the course that we did was a translation component. And we were translating what I guess are the equivalent of Aesop's fables, but the Chinese version of Aesop's fables. We were translating those into English. And for anyone that speaks another language, you'll know that it's very rare that you can translate things word for word, especially works of creative work. And there's quite an art and a knack to translation.

And we'd done an assignment, which I handed in. Thankfully they were only short texts. And my lecturer said to me, Sandie, I think you've got a real knack for writing. Have you ever thought about being a writer?

And I thought she was absolutely crazy. Because I was the kid, unlike every other author I have ever met, who did not enjoy reading growing up.

Valerie

Really?

Sandie

No. Like, I should be barred from the Author's Association of Australia. I know! It's the complete opposite of what is normal, and what is expected. I was the kid that wanted to be outside playing the whole time. Reading was not on my radar at all until I was in my late teens. And my father, who was a massive reader, handed me a fantasy novel. And he said, just give it a go. Just try it. And I worshipped the ground that my father walked on and so I wanted to please him and I did. And that was when I discovered reading. And from there I moved into Jane Austen and that was when my love of women's fiction started.

So it wasn't a natural thing for me to ever think about writing. And the only writing I did as a teenager was that awful angsty poetry when you break up with your boyfriend and all that sort of thing.

So when my Chinese lecturer said this to me, I just went, pfft. No way. She's just nuts. And then I didn't think about it again until my husband, well, my then-boyfriend, now husband and I moved to London, like a lot of young Australians do, to work and travel.

And it was while I was over there and I was teaching English. And I think I was missing home a lot. I grew up in Coffs harbour, which was 25,000 people at the time when I was growing up. And then I did university in Newcastle, which despite being called a city, is still very much a small town. And then I was living in London, which is the complete opposite of the upbringing that I had. And I was just missing home so much. And that was when I went, oh, I wonder if my lecturer was right? Could I give this writing thing a crack?

And so I wrote what would become the most god-awful manuscript you've ever read. And I thought it was brilliant, of course, at the time. But it wasn't. There was no way it was ever going to be turned into anything. But I discovered through that that I could write an entire manuscript of 90,000 words. And that I loved it! I loved the process. And so when we moved back to Australia to get married, that was when I thought, okay, I'm going to give this a bit more of a crack and see where it goes. And Kookaburra Creek and Rosella Cove were born.

Valerie

Wow. And so tell us… Because you've done some courses at the Australian Writers' Centre, how were they helpful in your writing journey?

Sandie

Yeah, so when I decided to start doing some courses, I was at the stage in my writing life where I had two completed manuscripts and I had been sending them out through the query trenches. And I was receiving some interest from both agents and publishers, but I wasn't getting that final yes. I wasn't getting over the line.

And I thought, okay, I must be missing something. Either there's something missing in my writing or there's something missing in my approach to the querying trenches. There's got to be something else that I can do to help.

So that was when I started doing some courses. And I did some courses at the Australian Writers' Centre that covered social media, because that was something I knew nothing about. I did some creative writing courses. And I also did some courses that were based on publishing and how to get published and understand what the publishing industry is like.

And what I found was that, you know, that helped me hone my manuscript that little bit, hone my pitches when I was querying. The background information that I learned about the industry was so, so, so important. And when I did get that meeting with Penguin, which would turn into ultimately a yes, and I was sitting there opposite the publisher and she was talking about the way the publishing house works and acquisitions meetings and all those other things with industry jargon, I was able to converse with her in a really knowledgeable way.

And while ultimately it's the story that sells to a publishing house, I think the fact that I appeared to be so professional and so knowledgeable about the industry certainly made it easier for her to pitch to the rest of Penguin that they should take me on as an author.

Valerie

That's great. So let's just circle back to you got a contract for this around in October, and then you had to deliver in April. And then come the edits, right?

Sandie

Yes.

Valerie

What was that process like for you? And were there many things you had to change structurally? What was it like?

Sandie

Yeah, I've discovered that there's always things that they suggest that you change. They never… It's never black and white. It's never, you MUST do this. But some things they lightly suggest, some things they very strongly suggest. And it's your job then to cut off your emotions, I guess, and have a critical look at what they're saying and why they're saying it.

And yeah, I think I changed the ending to Banksia Bay based on their suggestions. I got a little bit trigger happy with killing some characters off in this novel. And they said, um, remember what genre you're writing in, Sandie? So I had to resurrect a few people!

The editing process, sort of pull back a little bit. I actually really enjoy the editing process, though. When you first get your feedback, it can be a bit of a kick in the guts, because you think you've written something that's brilliant, and they tell you how brilliant it is. But… can you just make some changes? And it can hurt sometimes.

The editing process with Banksia Bay was probably the smoothest one I've had, though, out of the three. So I actually really enjoyed that.

Valerie

And of course, one of the great things that you had in your favour, which we tell our listeners all the time, is that you actually had your second manuscript ready to go. Because invariably, publishers always want to know what have you got next? So you've got one waiting in the wings. And I assume that Penguin thought it was great that you had a second one waiting in the wings, because then they could bring that out after the first one. Is that right?

Sandie

Absolutely. And that was something that I learned through doing the courses When you write your very first manuscript, you sort of sit back and pat yourself on the back and go, oh, look how clever I am. I've done it now. And then you wait for the offers of publication to come in. And they don't.

And one of the things that I think more than one of the tutors has mentioned was get stuck into your next one. Yes, it's fantastic you've finished your first one, now you need to start the next.

And so I was in a really good position that I had two completed manuscripts when I went in to that meeting with Penguin. And I had the idea for Banksia Bay as well, so I actually had a pitch for that. So when I had my meeting with the publisher at Penguin, she had read Kookaburra Creek and Rosella Cove and one of the very first questions she asked me was – and what have you got next?

Valerie

Wow.

Sandie

It was one of the first things.

Valerie

Great. So with Banksia Bay then, they made their strong suggestions and their not so strong suggestions. How long did it take for you to do those edits and give them the next version?

Sandie

Yeah. So that's actually quite a process. You're normally given about four weeks to do that structural edit in the first instance. And then you send that back in and then they may come back with another structural edit after that. And then you go into copyediting. And then you go into proof editing. So all up, the editing process, so that was April, and then we put it to bed probably around October last year.

Valerie

So while you're editing that, did you have your fourth one in your brain? Or were you marinating that already?

Sandie

Yeah. I was marinating it. I wasn't actively doing any work on it. But I was definitely marinating it. And I had already pitched that to Penguin. So the basic concept had been accepted. Yeah. So I was just sort of letting it marinate in the background. And I'm in the thick of trying to complete that draft now.

Valerie

Oh, so you're writing it now?

Sandie

Yes. It is due in April.

Valerie

And is it set in a small town?

Sandie

Ah… It is. It is called The Wattle Island Book Club.

Valerie

Oh, I love it! That's great.

Sandie

Yes.

Valerie

That is so cool.

Sandie

So there's actually two small towns in this one. Yeah.

Valerie

Brilliant. All right. So you're in the thick of actually writing the fourth novel now. How has your writing process evolved over time? What do you do more efficiently and why?

Sandie

I used to write everything pen and paper, by hand.

Valerie

Oh my god!

Sandie

I know.

Valerie

Really?

Sandie

Everybody is shocked! Yes.

Valerie

What?

Sandie

I know. And I'm not that old!

Valerie

On like…

Sandie

In exercise books. In A4 exercise books, but exercise books. Yeah. So Kookaburra Creek and Rosella Cove were both written that way. Do you need a coffee? Are you okay?

Valerie

It still shocks when I hear this. Anyway. Go on.

Sandie

And I actually love that process. There's something about the physical connection that you have to your words when you write with pen and paper. And, in my defence, Valerie, there have been studies that prove that it actually is a different connection with the brain. Different synapses fire when you write pan to paper.

Valerie

Yes. It is true.

Sandie

It is. However, that's very time consuming.

Valerie

Yeah. And it's sore for your hand.

Sandie

Well, I was used to it, so I didn't get sore. But then you have to type it into the computer, which is another process. With Banksia Bay, I did not have the time to write pen to paper, so I had to type it straight into the computer. So that's been one of the biggest changes for books three and four. They're going straight into the computer. There's no hand writing. Which I do miss, but…

Valerie

And how is that different in your brain synapses? Like, how have you felt that's different? Or what are you missing out on or what's better in doing it this way?

Sandie

I think the thing that I'm missing from it is the leisurely pace that you can go when you're writing by hand. And going off on different tangents and coming back and sort of finding your way through the rabbit holes of your story, which I really enjoy.

The good thing about having to type straight into the computer and having to meet quite strict deadlines is that I'm a lot more focused on the story. The story comes out in a much more focused way which is possibly why the editing for Banksia Bay was a little bit smoother, because it was more focused to begin with…

Valerie

So… No, please go on.

Sandie

No, I was going to say, I think that's what it is, yeah.

Valerie

Right. So when you write, whether by hand or not, do you have to do it at home? Are you the sort of person… Because I imagine, if I'm writing in an exercise book, I'm writing in cafes, and you know, at the beach or whatever. Do you have to be in a certain environment?

Sandie

No, I don't. I do have what I call a library. It is actually just a room in the house with a lot of books in it, but it's my room and nobody else is allowed in. So I do have that space in my home where I write. But I also find that I sometimes need to kind of have a circuit breaker from that environment. When I feel like my brain's getting a little bit mushy or the ideas aren't coming, and I will take myself to a cafe. Just that change of scenery, I think, can sometimes help reset the brain. And I take my laptop and do that. Obviously, used to be the exercise book, now it's the laptop.

I sometimes write in the car when I'm waiting for my daughter to finish her tutoring lesson. I will write anywhere. I tend to write mostly in my library though.

Valerie

Yes. Now, I want to just unpack the thing about writing in the car. Because there are so many writers that I talk to who say, oh, I can't do that while waiting for my kid at soccer or whatever. You know, what do you do to get into the zone while you're writing? I mean, I can do it. And I encourage people to do it. What do you do to get into the zone so that you can write while you're waiting for your kid at tutoring?

Sandie

Deadlines are a really fantastic motivator!

Valerie

Yes.

Sandie

I reckon I could write anywhere under a deadline.

It's just that concept of, I have to get this done and this is a chance where I can do it. When you've got kids and a husband and a house and part time jobs or fulltime jobs, a lot of writers have other fulltime jobs, you take the time that you can get. You don't always have the luxury of sitting in a nice beach house somewhere at a writer's retreat. And when you're running around after school, taking your kids places, and you know you've got to cook dinner when you get home and put the washing on, that hour where she's at tutoring is an hour that I can use for my writing. And so you make the most of it.

Valerie

And do you have a part-time job? Or fulltime job? And if not, when was your last one?

Sandie

Up until about half way through last year, I was working part-time administration in a local primary school. Before that I was doing some part-time work as a swimming teacher. I am now listed as a casual within the Department of Education. I haven't taken up any work in the last six months.

Valerie

Is that on purpose because you wanted to focus on your writing?

Sandie

Yeah. Much to my husband's distress, who would very much like a more regular income coming in, I haven't taken any. Because, you know, short deadlines, one book you're writing, one book you're promoting, it gets a little bit much sometimes.

Valerie

Yes. Now, you are also working on a fabulous initiative.

Sandie

I am.

Valerie

Later in the year, by which time I'm sure the thing about mass meetings is going to have subsided.

Sandie

Hopefully, yes.

Valerie

Tell us about that. Because I'm personally really excited about it.

Sandie

I'm glad you are, because I am bursting out of my skin with this one. I've got together with a couple of like-minded readers and writers and we have decided to create our own literary festival.

Valerie

Love it.

Sandie

And it's going to be on the Northern beaches of Sydney, and it's the Northern Beaches Readers Festival. And we very deliberately chose to put ‘readers' in the name of our festival instead of ‘writers' because it's all about connecting readers with the authors that they love to read

Valerie

Love it.

Sandie

So we're very, very excited. And we have signed up in the last couple of weeks some amazing Australian authors. And I might just do a little bit of name-dropping here, if that's okay?

Valerie

Drop the names, please!

Sandie

So we have the likes of Rachael Johns, Christian White, Sally Hepworth, Michael Robotham, and a whole bunch of wonderful authors from romance, from historical, from crime. Candice Fox is coming. It's just, it's amazing. We're so excited.

Valerie

This is so wonderful. And I love the fact that it's literally down the road from me.

Sandie

Yes, I know! Yeah, you can walk there and bask in the wonder of these wonderful authors that we have in Australia.

Valerie

Brilliant. Well, no doubt we will hear more about it closer to the time. When's it going to be?

Sandie

The weekend is the 25th to the 27th of September this year.

Valerie

Put that in your diaries everyone.

Sandie

Absolutely. We've got our website up and running. Www.nbrf.com.au (for Northern Beaches Readers Festival). And we have the profiles of most of our authors up. We're still in the process of doing that, so we can see who we've got coming. And on our Facebook page, which is NBRFestival, we have Jamie Durie, who announced the festival, which was an exciting little coup that we had.

Valerie

Fantastic. Because he's a local author as well.

Sandie

He is, yes. He's up that way.

Valerie

So, finally, what's your top three tips for aspiring writers who hope to be doing what you are now?

Sandie

I'm not sure if this is three tips or one tip, but write, write, write. You would be surprised the amount of people that you meet at events or that contact you through social media that say they want to be a writer. And you ask them how much they've written, and the answer is, well, nothing.

And particularly in fiction, you will not get published, unless you are famous in some other realm, you know, you're on Home & Away or an amazing sports star, you will not get published in fiction unless you have a finished manuscript. And the only way you can finish is to write, write, write.

So that would be my absolute best tip for people.

Valerie

Okay. We'll take that as three tips.

Sandie

Okay! And the more you write, the better you get. Like anything in life that you do.

Valerie

Absolutely. All right. Great advice from Sandie Docker, whose latest book is The Banksia Bay Beach Shack. Grab a copy, it's awesome. Thank you so much for your time today, Sandie.

Sandie

Thank you for having me.

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