Here is a Q&A I did with gorgeous Brisbane writer Edwina Shaw. Her book Thrill Seekers is available in selected book shops.
1. What was the inspiration for your novel?
Most of the stories in Thrill Seekers had been sitting in my head for over twenty years, aching to be told. I wanted to bear witness to the life of my brother Matthew who killed
himself at the age of twenty to escape the pain of schizophrenia.
2. When did you take up writing?
I started writing full time in 2002, when I wrote my first full length novel manuscript – now firmly buried in the bottom drawer. I also wrote a few short stories and took as many courses as I could on
the craft of creative writing.
3. How important is setting/place in your writing?
Thrill Seekers is set in Brisbane on the banks of Oxley Creek and on the Brisbane River. The river plays a big part,
not only in the action of the story, but symbolically too. It wends its way through the story, just as the real river winds its way through Brisbane. My second novel is set in Cambodia and its wild and dirty streets are central to the story. The sugar cane fields, mountains, rivers and jungles of far north QLD play a big part in my current project. So yes – setting is important to my
4. Do you have a favourite character (s) in your current novel?
In Thrill Seekers I am fondest of Douggie, the character based on my brother. I hope that I’ve captured Matty’s sensitivity, love of life and incredible courage.
My favourite character in my current project is Silver, a charismatic, aging artist.
5. What’s the best piece of writing advice you were ever given?
Persistence is the Key. The quote below from Calvin Coolidge is the truth. I’ve seen better writers than
me come and go. NEVER GIVE UP!
"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is
full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent." Calvin Coolidge.
6. Do you have a schedule for writing?
I try to write in the mornings after I’ve done the morning chores and seen my children off to school. When writing creatively I need absolute quiet and to know that I won’t be interrupted so I stick to school hours mostly. Night times and early mornings don’t work for me. Sleep is too important.
7. Are you a plotter or someone who tends to wing it?
With Thrill Seekers I was totally winging it. It began as a collection of linked short stories that, only quite late in the piece, I realised were joining up to create something more. My other novel manuscripts have started with a plot outline but have changed dramatically in the writing.
8. Can you name three of four of your current favourite books?
Animal People by Charlotte Wood. The Spare Room by Helen Garner. A Better Woman by Susan Johnson.
9. Can you tell me a little bit about what you are working on now?
At the moment I’m reworking a novel set among the canefields of far north QLD in 1969, “Into The Fire”.
I wrote the first draft in 2010, made a complete mess with the second draft in early 2011, and have come back to it now after a year, much better able to see how it can be rescued.
10. What advice would you give to a fledgling writer to assist them on their journey?
Write. Just write. Write as much as you can, as often as you can. Don’t stop to edit and tear your work apart. Keep writing till you’ve finished what you set out to achieve.
Read a lot of good quality literature in a variety of genres.
Join a writers group of like’-minded people also on the writing path and critique each other’s work. Do as many courses as you can that teach about craft.
And finally – WRITING IS REWRITING!
Thrill Seekers by Edwina Shaw is available below: