Ep 329 Meet Anna Whateley, author of ‘Peta Lyre’s Rating Normal’

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In Episode 329 of So You Want To Be A Writer: Meet Anna Whateley, author of Peta Lyre's Rating Normal. Discover how to spark your kid's writing fire. New AWC online courses are in the works. Plus, we have 3 copies of Husband Replacement Therapy by Kathy Lette to give away.

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Show Notes

How To Spark Your Kid's Writing Fire

Writer in Residence

Anna Whateley

Anna Whateley’s debut #ownvoices novel Peta Lyre’s Rating Normal, Allen & Unwin, is released May 2020. She also has an essay titled ‘Noisy Silence’ in Growing Up Disabled in Australia, Black Inc Books, edited by Carly Findlay.

Anna has a PhD in young adult fiction (literary criticism) and has taught sociology and YA/children’s literature to preservice teachers.

She loves to attend writer events, conferences, twitter storms, and book launches, and is also a strong advocate for the neurodivergent community.

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Interview Transcript

Allison Tait

Anna Whateley writes YA stories that engage with diversity and the depth of human experience. Her debut Own Voices novel Peta Lyre's Rating Normal is out in May with Allen and Unwin. Anna has also written an essay for the Growing Up Disabled in Australia anthology published by Black Inc. Books, which will be coming out in early 2021. Welcome to the program, Anna.

 

Anna Whateley

Thank you so much for having me on, Allison.

 

Allison Tait

Right. Let us talk about your debut novel because of course, this is part of our debut author series, which we're doing specifically to support debut authors who have been somewhat hamstrung by the current world environment. So let's talk about your debut novel, Peta Lyre's Rating Normal. What is it all about? And where did the idea come from?

 

Anna Whateley

So Peta Lyre's Rating Normal is about Peta Lyre who's a teenager living in the south of Brisbane. She's neurodivergent. So she has ADHD, ASD, Sensory Processing Disorder, like myself. And she follows all the social rules and that's something you hear overtly in the novel as she's going about her day and she rates, obviously, how normal she thinks she's appeared. Or not.

And it's going quite well for her. She's very good at her masking behaviours. Until she falls in love with the new girl and they go on the school ski trip down to Perisher. And everything starts to unravel. And I think she realises that the rules don't actually make a lot of sense. And so she has to grapple with how to move forward there, and which rules to keep and which ones to break. And so that's like the basic pitch.

 

Allison Tait

And it's an excellent pitch.

 

Anna Whateley

There you go. But the idea is… The idea… This is a hard one because it came out in such a flood. And I was asking myself questions about the social training of neurodivergent people and children. I have children on the spectrum and we're pushed to put them through quite a lot of social training, some of which is helpful and some I see to be quite damaging.

And I was wondering what would happen if someone got those rules right. What if they really did actually succeed in this goal of being the perfect social being? And what were the ramifications of that. So they were my general questions in my head when I started writing.

But in terms of the voice, I just didn't know another way to write the experience of being neurodivergent than the way that that came out at the time, where the rules appear in the text in italics as she's speaking. So right now, it would be something like, “Don't sit too close to the microphone, don't sit too far away, make sure your voice is engaging and going up and down in its tone. Make sure you don't repeat yourself.”

So you would hear that as it's written in the book. People have said it's quite an immersive experience.

 

Allison Tait

Yes.

 

Anna Whateley

And I almost feel like I should apologize to them because yeah, I've had a lot of emails about that. And one friend who read a draft and has now been diagnosed on the spectrum as well, because she identified so strongly with Peta, she actually was like, wow, that's intense. And has then sought her own diagnosis.

 

Allison Tait

So from the first idea that you had there, like as you said, the voice, you know, was a fairly natural thing that came out naturally for you. It wasn't something that you had to think about too much. But what was the actual process of writing the novel? Because you've got a background in literary…

 

Anna Whateley

Yeah.

 

Allison Tait

Yeah. A literary kind of… Can you explain how that might have come into play here for us.

 

Anna Whateley

Yeah, I have to. Because otherwise, the story sounds a little bit… It sounds a little odd. But I do have 20 years’ experience studying fiction and a PhD in young adult fiction. So what I'm about to say isn't just coming out of nowhere. Obviously, I have a long history with books.

But I've been trying to write since the beginning of the year, this is about, this is two years ago, I tried writing with my children, we wrote a fantasy book and we wrote a chapter book sort of together as an experience to do that together, experimenting. Because I was stuck at home and couldn't work at the time.

So then what happened is I booked myself into a conference at the CYA in Brisbane, the Children's and Young Adult Literature Conference, where you have manuscripts reviewed. And I got a little excited and booked more sessions, lots of sessions, I just wanted to book loads because I wanted feedback. Because I missed having a supervisor like I had in my PhD. I wanted the one on one contact from them. And it seemed like financially a great investment.

So I booked them and then I realized that I didn't have a book that was worth submitting. I really love my middle grade fantasy, but looking at it, when I tried to write a synopsis and I couldn't, and I couldn't quite pitch it because it didn't have anything unique about it that I could really nail.

And then I realized that's the bit where they say, write a better book. And I thought this was my shot. And that I didn't want to waste it on one that I knew didn't meet the grade, it didn't come up to the standard.

And they were calling for Own Voices. And I thought I didn't really have a voice because I'm white. I live a very middle-class life now. And then I realized, you know, that I have ADHD and then I thought that could be something. I didn't know any female characters with ADHD in literature that I could look to. And you know, so then I thought, well, who are the young adults, female young adults with ADHD looking to?

So I thought, Okay, I'll give that a go. And I had about three weeks. So I sat down and I wrote and it took about two and a half weeks to get the first 45,000 out.

 

Allison Tait

Wow.

 

Anna Whateley

I know. But this is a hyperfocused thing. It's where you just disappear into it. But that doesn't mean I do that all the time. And there's a lot of procrastination that goes before and after. But because there was a deadline, and I had to do it, and it wasn't, and it had that natural feel, I just wrote from beginning to end.

And then I had to go back and put the flashback chapters in because it lacked length, it had to be 50,000. I write short. And then I thought, Oh, crap, what am I going to do? So I went back and put in the flashbacks, but they made it a lot better because they added the depth. And I had enough then to write the synopsis to send in. And then I had a couple of weeks to edit before the full, before I had it completely to the point where I was happy with that.

And then I took that in and pitched it and it went really well. I had four requests out of four pitches. So that went really well.

The whole thing, it's not what I expected. I was expecting advice and feedback. And so when I got really good feedback and the requests, I actually sunk into quite a depression, because I wasn't expecting that. And I thought I'd have many, many years to struggle and then it happened too fast. And so I actually just cried and went home. And that's not a happy ending, is it, to that story?

 

Allison Tait

Interesting, though. Because I think it is that you suspect that was almost a moment of overwhelm in a way of like, Oh, totally. What do I do now?

 

Anna Whateley

Oh, totally.

 

Allison Tait

So you wrote the first 45,000 words in two and a half weeks. You had three weeks to go. You then went and put the flashbacks in to bring it up to 50,000. So you went with the first draft? Is that right?

 

Anna Whateley

I… That sounds misleading. I did… I do edit very well because doing a PhD teaches you…

 

Allison Tait

Oh, because you've got that as a background.

 

Anna Whateley

Yeah. And I'm extremely fussy. But I also write, and I did this with my study as well, I write normally just from beginning to end and as it comes out. So basically the first chapter, the first page of Peta Lyre has barely changed since then. So it comes out quite…

But my problem is structure. So, I may be able to do that, but plotting and structure are a struggle. So I had to then retrospectively plot. So I sort of pants my way through, but then I had to go and look up, “what's the hero's cycle? Oh, my goodness! How many…”

So I have to do things like obsessively word count how many words until she hits rock bottom, how many words until… And pages. And then, so after I've got a draft, I have to then squeeze that into a… I start spreadsheeting and I get a little bit… Oh, I don't want to say the word ‘crazy' because we're not supposed to. But I basically do go a little bit crazy on the structure trying to make sure I have the right proportions in the text about what happens. Because I skim the ending. And that's where we had to do the work, was to bulk out the ending and really process properly towards the end of the novel when it was being edited.

So yeah, structure is my nemesis. And plotting. So that's where I then afterwards have to go and get quite strict with myself. And you can't just… Even though the text comes out well, it'll be a case of where do I add words to make sure it's balanced? And that each character is developed? Yeah.

 

Allison Tait

Would you recommend that you have the whole novel complete before you go and pitch it? Like you wouldn't turn up to a CYA conference and pitch it with just three chapters written? And a synopsis? Would you?

 

Anna Whateley

Oh, gosh.

 

Allison Tait

The only reason I'm asking you that is because how long did you have to send those requests out? When were people expecting them?

 

Allison Tait

They don't… From everything I know, which is based on, you know, a lot of research, once they've asked you, that door's open but you can take your time. Yeah. So that's when I really went through and made sure there were no spelling errors. I made sure there was nothing else I could do to polish it.

And I was very strict with myself not to rush and hit send, because I had heard that that was often a big mistake. Because they come back from a conference and they may have done three that week. And they're going to, they're not going to get back to you for months. They want you to send your best.

I'm speaking for people here but from what I understood, they would rather that you sent something that's a better representation of what you can do, if you took your time. Yeah, but for me, I had to know how the book ended because I didn't know

 

Allison Tait

Yeah. You had to write it.

 

Anna Whateley

I had to write it.

 

Allison Tait

Fair enough. Alright, so once you went through that process, how did it come to be published by Allen and Unwin. Like how did you… Were they one of the ones that had requested?

 

Anna Whateley

No, they weren't at the conference. I had pitched to Danielle, and some other…

 

Allison Tait

Danielle being, this is your agent, correct?

 

Anna Whateley

Yes. So I'd pitched to Danielle and another agent and some publishers who were doing… Some were doing, there's one doing the 15-minute feedback where they actually read pages of your work beforehand. So they read the first 20,000 or 10 pages, I can't remember which. And then other editors were there with a five-minute pitch. So you go in and you just tell them and then they say yes or no to send it to them.

So there were a variety of types of pitching that went on. And with Danielle, that was a five-minute pitch. And so…

What was the question again?

 

Allison Tait

The question was, how did it come to be published by Allen & Unwin? We're doing well. We're doing beautifully.

 

Anna Whateley

We'll be right.

So yeah, so I went in and I had, so they requested. And then once Danielle offered me, offered to be my agent, we withdrew the manuscript from the publishers who'd requested it so that she could time pitching in her normal agent way. So we then waited until March the next year and just sat on it, basically.

And she had some young adult readers to give feedback and anything there. So that was really nice. And then she took it out to pitch and we had a few offers. And I chose Allen & Unwin because I spoke to Jodie and we just hit it off. She understood the book right from word go. And any of the changes that she mentioned were things that I knew needed developing in the novel as well. And so I just felt… And she was very calm. And I think I need, I knew I would need that calm presence, because Danielle is such an exciting presence. And then I thought I had a balance. So I had Danielle there to liven everything up, and I had Jodie there as a grounding force in the actual, in the book work. So, and that worked really well. It's just the best decision. I feel completely at home with Jody and Kate, who edited with me.

 

Allison Tait

So Jodie is your publisher at Allen & Unwin?

 

Anna Whateley

Yeah, she's their commissioning editor.

 

Allison Tait

What's her last name?

 

Anna Whateley

Um… Her last name… Now the only reason I'm pausing is that the principal at the school is also a Jodie. And I've been known to mess up my emails between the two very embarrassingly. I sent my complaint about something that had happened at the school and Jodie Webster from Allen & Unwin said, “Anna, I do believe you've got the wrong Jodie.”

 

Allison Tait

That's hilarious.

 

Anna Whateley

I was so embarrassed. Because it was one of those rare moments where I was just like, “My son is sunburnt!! Da da da!” You know, those sorts of emails. Anyway, that was embarrassing.

So Jody Webster.

 

Allison Tait

So Jodie Webster is your publisher at Allen & Unwin.

 

Anna Whateley

Yeah.

 

Allison Tait

Excellent. All right. So was there anything about the publishing process that surprised you? Like, given you do have a background in in, you know, literature, youth literature, was there anything about the actual process of getting the book ready for publication and getting it out into the world that actually has surprised you?

 

Anna Whateley

In terms of the detail of how things happen, and when things happen, probably all of it. But in terms of the content of what we were doing, the most surprising thing was just how lovely everyone is, that they give you feedback and they write really nice things. Or they give you the feedback, but they say lovely things. And as an academic, I'm just used to, basically, you just get the hardcore comments. There's no, you would very rarely get anything nice or positive.

So having those lovely comments was really… It was a bit difficult to hear them and was, I immediately think, “Well, you know, they probably don't mean that.” But they just seem such genuine people. And to have all of that lovely support there, and then such deep and insightful editing, where, you know, they're putting so much work into making sure that every element is its best. And I absolutely just appreciate it every moment.

To be honest, I really like being edited. And I loved the process that we used. But I think, not sure if it's always that easy for people. I've got… The actual going through documents in terms of actually physically entering the edits and making the changes is very familiar to me. So I just spent the whole time thinking, wanting to apologize for silly mistakes I made. Or having discussions in the side. So you know, Kate would say something and I'd say something and then she'd say something and we'd end up with this conversation in a Word document that's crashing like crazy because we were having this chat.

 

Allison Tait

In the track changes?

 

Anna Whateley

Yeah, we're having this whole chat down the side about spaghettification and whether or not if you were spaghettified would you actually be able to watch yourself become stringy? Anyway, we had the most random conversations in the margins, which I really loved.

 

Allison Tait

I think it's good to know that too, though, because I think that also when you are not having been through the publishing process, it is very easy to think, to forget that editors are people. And I think it's really important to remember that most of them, if not all of them that I've ever met, have just been incredibly lovely people who just want your book to be the best it can be. Even if that's sometimes very hard as an author, because, you know, sometimes to make your book the best it can be you have to do some serious work, you know. It's there, but it needs to be brought out, you know, kicking and screaming into the light. And I think that that's, you know, it's important to remember that that's what editors are there for.

So how important do you think having an agent has been for you, as far as your journey to publication? How important has it been to have Danielle representing your interests, do you think?

 

Anna Whateley

For me, I think, I felt it was essential. Because I don't know the industry. I'm very knew in that way. And contracts. I would have no idea. And she reduces my anxiety levels often and in a very meaningful way because she can say to me, “I am going to go and do this now with your book.” And all I have to do is wait. Which, you know, waiting is horrible. But gee, it's better than doing that on your own.

And yeah, and so she's there as well to make sure if I'm not sure what to do… In the early stages with the publisher, like, “Can I say this? Can I do that?” And I can always shoot her a quick message and say, you know, “would this be okay or would that be okay?” And she's always really good at giving advice to me in return about what's normal because, obviously I'm a little obsessed with normality. And I like to follow the rules. And my anxiety over getting things wrong could have ruined the whole process. So having her there to keep me calm, but also advocate for any needs I have. She's always there. She's just basically, “you let me know and I'm there in a shot to make sure you get what you need.” And that's just such a lovely thing to have.

 

Allison Tait

So what sort of impact do you think the Own Voices movement has had on publishing in Australia? Are you seeing the impact of it, do you think?

 

Anna Whateley

I'm seeing it in the work that's coming out and that will then be available to my kids, to other neurodivergent people. And I also see Own Voices being people of colour, people with disabilities, and any aspect of the Own Voices movement in queer writing. And so we're having a lot more representation there, which is absolutely essential.

And I cannot… Part of me is mortified it's taken this long, but then also hopeful that now it's happening, it will keep happening and that we've pushed this snowball down the hill now and it's only going to grow.

There's a whole conference that was going to happen in Perth this year for my old children's literature research bunch on Own Voices. I don't know what's gonna happen with that now. But they're just doing a whole conference to look at own voices and its impact. And to think that we've now gotten to that stage of recognition within the academic community means there's enough to study and enough people looking to what's happening, that it's here to stay.

And I think given the state of mental health with young adults at the moment, I don't think there's another option but to keep developing and to keep working on representation and making sure it's varied, which means you need enough. You can't have just one. You can't just have Sheldon, or you can't just have the dogs being murdered in the night-time and things. You can't just have one book and go, “oh, there's that book, isn't that lovely?” And you can't just have The Hate You Give and leave it there. You have to keep on producing enough that the variety of people who have been lacking in representation then have somewhere to look where they can identify and feel at home in the world and any sense of belonging. Because belonging is the absolute foundational thing that will preserve mental health in young adulthood.

 

Allison Tait

Excellent. Now, you also have a family. How do you fit the writing, when you're writing novels and you're trying to manage all the other things that go on, how do you make time for it?

 

Anna Whateley

I squeeze it in wherever I can. Now that I have three children actually in school, theoretically I have more time to my day. But I spend a lot of my day advocating for them. So on a very basic level, I spend a lot of time talking to schools, to special needs units. And they're often home. So there's just…

And I, the day I started my PhD was the day I found out I was pregnant with my first child. So I've been juggling children and work since forever. And just, with Peta Lyre, I was getting up at five o'clock every morning and writing. I wrote into the night, I wrote after we got home from school, I wrote in every spare moment that I had. But also being not taken out of that zone. So when I was writing, I didn't do any other, apart from parenting, I didn't do anything else during that time. Whereas now because I'm doing the launching of Peta Lyre and all the work around that, actually writing new work is really difficult because that creative brain takes a different space. And for me, I need to have the ability to focus in more closely. So I'm lacking that at the moment, given that they're now home all the time. Thank you, Corona virus.

 

Allison Tait

It's interesting, isn't it? Because I think that is something that I found surprising when my first novel came out was how much time it took to actually, you know, send that book out into the world. And that's, I'm not even necessarily talking about physical things here, but I'm just talking about the Q and A's and all of the various things that you have to do to secure its safe passage out into the universe, and how much of your mind space that actually takes up.

 

Anna Whateley

So much

 

Allison Tait

And when you are trying to write your second book or edit your second book or do whatever it is, wherever you're up to with that at that particular point. And I think that that is something that debut authors often will actually often talk about it, it is something that I have discussed with debut authors before is just, it's like a balloon, it just expands out, that whole section, into so much of your mind. And trying to actually physically squeeze that back into its box so that you can write something else is not easy.

 

Anna Whateley

Yeah, I think I'm having to just chunk out time. And I've just thought, “right, I'm going to give myself over to this process, and the virus until that, and then when that's done…” And I need to, obviously it comes down to reminding myself, it's okay, this will change again, and then I will have that time back in the future.

And yeah, but things like writing answers to questions online, like blogging questions. I wasn't, I mean, I knew that would happen. But the questions for me, I think it's, as I was saying, as a neurodivergent person, is what are the rules here? Do I copy and paste the same answers or is that wrong? Do people find out? Do I have to write new answers every time? Should this be written like I'm talking? Or should this be written like a little speech? Or should this be…?

So I have, for me there's this bizarre process of wanting to know exactly what everybody wants so I can give them that. But then I always end up just winging it. Because it always ends up better if I just do that. I just, I have to go through this roller coaster to get to that point.

 

Allison Tait

So you've recently started a vlog and you also run #AusChat on YouTube. Why did you start those things? Was that a conscious thought of “this will help me build my platform?” That was the first question.

 

Anna Whateley

Yeah. The vlog?

 

Allison Tait

And the second question is, is it time consuming?

 

Anna Whateley

So the vlog was a conscious thought of there's no way for people to reach me if they're not on Twitter. So yes, I'm on Instagram in theory, I'm kind of on Facebook a little bit. But Twitter's my home. And it's not a young adult space, really. It's not somewhere they're looking for an author if they want to find out information.

I do have a website, but I don't blog. It's not a skill that I have. And I know my website's lacking in information. And I thought, “What am I going to do if someone wanted to know anything else about me? If they're a young adult, or someone wanting to interview me?” I've learned, you know, you need more information about someone than just their book, because it's hard otherwise.

So I thought, “What will I do?” And I thought, “Well, one thing I can do is talk a lot.” So I set up the vlog idea and I just thought I would just do that. And then at the end of the day, if people needed any information about me, there's a record of, for however long that lasts, it will be there.

And that wasn't overly time consuming because I hadn't set restrictions on myself that I have to release something once a week or once a day, or… I left it open to whenever I had time and whenever I had something to say, and it was just quite casual, very casual.

 

Allison Tait

So for anyone who doesn't know what a vlog is, it's basically just a video diary. Right? You just basically get up there, and… And it's on YouTube?

 

Anna Whateley

It's on YouTube. And I just record… Either it's on a topic or on… Yeah, but I always add in basically what's been going on in my life at the time, a little bit of that. And then something like, what it's like going through the publishing process when you're on the spectrum or what does it mean to… Yeah, those sorts of things.

And I was doing that but it is just me nabbering on to myself. And then when the virus came along, and everyone was really struggling, and I hadn't recorded a vlog because I just didn't, I couldn't focus on that at the time. And then I thought, “well, hang on a minute. We can't lose contact with each other.”

And then somehow, I just thought, Hey… I was talking to Kay Kerr, who's another autistic young adult fiction writer with a book coming out same time as mine, Please Don't Hug Me, very good. And she, we talk a lot, being two people in a position that's unusual. And we were going to do some chats together on my vlog where I maybe asked her questions or something. We'd had this idea. We were just being a bit vague about it.

And then we thought, Well, what if I do interview her and chat with her? And then what if I chatted with some other people? And it just kind of took off and people seem to want to just have a chat, and, you know, in a very casual, silly way. But people kept on saying they would do it and I thought, well, I guess I had better keep doing it then! And I will until people stop wanting to join me.

And I have this feeling, you know, it might be something that fades on its own when we don't need it anymore. But right now, people seem to be feeling very lonely and isolated. And I know how dangerous that is as a natural isolator, who loves and needs social interaction. So there's a paradox for you. So I balance that by having people in my home, but I didn't have to go out.

But time consuming? I started it when the kids were still in school. So I still had my day to myself where I could physically set things up and do the recording. And if I wasn't writing because I was distracted, I could be editing the footage, which is great, it's great fun. But then when they're home now it's a case of, “Everybody out of the living room! I've got to talk to such and such. Someone lock the dog up quick!”

And it's getting a little harder to fit in, but we're settling into new routines. So I'm hoping that for as long as I need to keep doing the #AusChat and people still need that in their world, I will hopefully still be able to just keep going. Even if they slow down a bit because at the moment, I have a lot.

 

Allison Tait

So if you're looking for that, it's #AusChat on YouTube. And is your YouTube channel just Anna Whateley?

 

Anna Whateley

Yeah, it is. And on Twitter there's the hashtag where everything is linked together.

 

Allison Tait

Okay, so find it on Twitter, is a good place. All right. So you said that you're trying to write other things at the moment. Do you have another book in the works? Is that what's next up? Apart from your contribution, obviously, to the anthology, is there a new novel that you're working on?

 

Anna Whateley

Yeah, well I have two. And poor Danielle, I've sent her them both and said, “oh, what do you think? Which one should go first?” But they're not polished so it's the first time I've sent a non-polished thing of the first 20,000 words or whatever of a young adult fiction options. And the one that I think that she would choose, I really love. It was two manuscripts but I've decided they belong together, my two characters. So it's the first time I've written two points of view.

And it's based more around disability, where one has multiple skin cancer removals, which obviously is my experience, and she's younger, and how that affects how you see yourself. Because she ends up with the same scar and same lip operation I had where I had two centimetres removed from my lip. And the other character is much quieter. They're both neurodivergent, but they're really different. And I really wanted that, to show the variety. That Peta is one person and Hilary's one person and Blair's a different person and they're all neurodivergent even though they're really different.

But Blair, but Hillary, sorry, has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which is a collagen, a genetic disorder with her collagen, which I have. And she ends up with a knee operation that my daughter had. So I'm capitalizing on the medical experiences that I know because I'm not a medical doctor, so I need to be careful what I include there.

And so it's her. And Hilary is very bubbly and outgoing. And so she's, I always think of her as bouncing off people like with sonar to try and find her edges. It's like she's undefined. And so she, she'll kiss everyone, she keeps talking all the time, she's trying to figure out where her body begins and ends.

And then Blair is very quiet and a little bit more just wanting her life to stay the same when it refuses to and is coming to terms with feeling that the scar on her face has made her the evil character in her own life. And that she's poisoning everyone, basically, when she touches them. She's believing that she's this toxic presence.

And all that started with, I read that death moves at two millimetres in 60 minutes. And that they've watched it and they studied it and they can see death moving across cells and the speed that it moves. And I just thought, wow, death is progressing across this physical body of the cells. So she is thinking, you know, how long does it take death to spread through me with my cancer and then through other people when I've touched them.

So they're both going through a whole thing but they help each other basically, even though they don't like each other. By the end, they help each other accept their disability and the disability community and that's sort of an important thing in my life. So it's been really interesting to write, but a huge challenge. It's a manuscript that I've picked up and put down a lot, that I found really traumatic for a while because it brought up a lot of memories for me, about my own… Because I was awake during my procedure on my lip. I couldn't have a general anaesthetic because there was no one available to do it. And so I had to have it done under a local.

 

Allison Tait

So you're really drawing on personal experience with this one?

 

Anna Whateley

Yeah. For the operation, yeah.

 

Allison Tait

Good luck with absorbing yourself into that over the next, you know, however long it's… When do you need to have that finished by? Is it a contracted book? Or is it…?

 

Anna Whateley

Oh, no, this is… I just kind of threw them at Danielle and said, What do we do now? And then obviously, it will go to Jodie once we're happy with which of… Because there's another whole one. But we'll see which one to go with. And hopefully they like it because it's really hard to follow Peta Lyre. It's a really sort of unique book. And so I'm in the position that most people are with a second book thinking, what do you do next that could follow? Yeah.

 

Allison Tait

All right. So thank you very much for your time today, Anna. We're gonna just finish up with our top three tips for writers. But in the meantime, where do we find you online? What's your website link? We'll put it in the show notes. But just in case anyone's, you know, driving a car right now desperate to have a thought about it.

 

Anna Whateley

I'm at annawhateley.com. It's quite boring. And I'm @annawhateley on Twitter and on Instagram @annawhateley_writer.

 

Allison Tait

Excellent. And what would your top three tips for writers be?

 

Anna Whateley

I would say, it sounds a bit miserable, go where the pain is, to wherever it is that hurts the most. When you press that bit, that's the bit you probably need to put into your book.

And this is the second tip, but it's kind of like the first, that there has to be loss. But to remember that passion is a kind of loss because it's a loss of your innocence and a loss of control. So but all the loss has to go in. They're the moments that make the reader feel and they deserve those moments.

But and the other one is if you're having trouble getting traction, you may need to write a better book.

 

Allison Tait

Okay, that's not bad advice right there. All right, well thank you very much for your time today, Anna. Best of luck with your debut. I hope that Peta goes out there with a huge splash or as much of a splash as she can possibly have right now. And we'll look forward to seeing what happens next.

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