Today I have another interview with an author from Down Under, Charlotte Young.
1. When did you first start writing?
I’ve always scribbled in journals, reflections mostly and the odd poem here and there. I started to take myself seriously in the late 90s after studying Professional Writing and Editing. It was here that I discovered the joy of writing in a community of word lovers.
2. What are your books about?
Ora’s Gold is my first full length novel for young adults. There are two or three unfinished manuscripts from a few years ago that have never seen the light of day. All of them have a strong female protagonist who comes of age, usually reluctantly. In the case of Ora, she certainly doesn’t want to break any rules but because she ends up living with an activist aunt, she ends up getting involved and finds herself in very deep water. My other published writing is non-fiction; a book for new mothers and a few articles for parenting magazines.
3. What led to your love for literature? Any favorite books / teachers / writing mentors?
My English teacher, Mrs. Campbell, who taught me through the trickiest years of my adolescence and although strict and sometimes short-tempered, she fostered a genuine love of the English language and a passion for storytelling.
I find it hard to pick an all-time favorite book. Right now, the one that comes to mind is The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman but if you asked me next week, I’d give you a different answer.
4. What's your writing process like? Do you outline? Do you write by hand / type / dictate?
The writing process for me was like an unveiling of Ora, one sitting at a time. After the initial scene, where she ‘arrived’ one day after I’d been in bed with the flu and as soon as my fever broke, I sat up and wrote a birth scene involving a very reluctant, lay midwife. Over the following weeks, a series of flashbacks followed with Ora sitting on the side of a mountain, looking back at the crazy few months she’d just spent with her aunt. This presented all sorts of problems for me later, with regard to the structure of the plot but it was a great way to get to know my main character. So I didn’t have the plot in any way, shape or form and I certainly didn’t know the ending until she took me there. Mid-way into the story, I was quite devastated at the surprising ‘wild-card’ fate threw at Ora and her beau, Jake. At the time, this turn of events didn’t fit in with my idea of what needed to happen to my heroine—it still doesn’t.
5. What's your editing process?
I read through what I wrote the day before and tinker away at the sentences. I’m also part of a writing group so once a month, I sent my writing to my buddies and we edited each other’s work. When it felt like I had the main bulk of the story, I went away for a long weekend, on my own and payed around with the structure. It took weeks to get it right. For the (almost) final draft I employed a professional editor and for the final ‘final’ draft a proofreader. I could make changes after every reading so in the end I needed to decide to just leave it alone after a while.
6. Who or what inspires you? Where / how do you get your book ideas?
Real life injustices or hardships inspire me. They are where I get my theme from and then I have to wait for a character to arrive who carries me along on their journey.
7. When in the day do you usually write? For how long?
I write in the mornings for 2-3 hours and edit in the afternoons.
8. Do you have a writing routine / schedule? Any specific rituals?
The main rule is 1000 words minimum per day. Often it’s a lots more than that, but I’m not allowed to move onto editing until I’ve got my 1000 words down.
9. Where do you feel most inspired to write?
I’m particularly fond of my office as it looks out onto a small pool/spa that opens to the sky. But I can write anywhere as long as it’s reasonably quiet. I find it very hard to write when friends and family are around. I love it best when I’m alone in the house.
10. Describe your desk / writing corner / favorite writing spot.
A couple of years ago I splashed out on an adjustable desk that has a small motor attached to it so at the click of a button, I can write standing up or sitting down. A few years ago I suffered from a prolapsed disc so this desk has been fabulous for my back.
11. Do you ever get writers' block? What are some ways you get around it?
I have writer’s block at the moment! I finished Ora’s Gold a while ago and I haven’t been able to start another story. I have one cooking away and have started it a couple of times but recently, I decided to wait until I have a good chunk of time to get my teeth into it. I have another project on the go at the moment (not writing related) so I’ve been a bit distracted. Also, so much of my time has had to go into the production and marketing of Ora’s Gold recently, that I haven’t had any time left over for writing…bit of a serious confession! However, I write every day in one way or another, so I’m still keeping my mojo going…just!
12. Do you now, or did you ever have any day jobs? Did they add to or detract from your writing?
I used to work as a doula (aka birth attendant) and this informed so much of Ora’s Gold as Ora’s aunt works illegally as an undercover midwife. One of the nicest things readers have said about the book is how visceral it is. I put this down to my direct experience of attending lots of births. Now, I work two days a week as a teacher, teaching English to overseas students. I like the balance it offers as working at home, alone get very quiet which I love but I also like the hustle and bustle of the college.
13. What's the most fun aspect of marketing? The most challenging?
I’m trying very hard to like marketing. That’s all I can say about it at the moment!
14. What project are you working on now?
I’m passionate about body acceptance and body awareness so I run classes and workshops relating to movement meditation for adults and puberty education for girls. I’m concentrating on expanding my business and sooner rather than later I’m going to start a blog.
15. What books do you like to read? What are you reading now?
At the moment I’m reading The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. Before that I read Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I like a mixture of genres from young adult, to realistic to historical to fantasy. The one common element? There has to be a strong female protagonist.
Writing and storytelling are a big part of my life. Whether it’s telling the stories myself, or collecting them from others, words have power and I love using them.
I’ve written and edited for numerous parenting publications and was the co-publisher of Barefoot Magazine for three years. I’m the author of a non-fiction book for mothers and my debut novel for young adults, Ora’s Gold will be out in August 2016.
What would you do if the authorities had control over your body?
Australia is ruled by the SIF. The Special Investigation Force controls everything. Water, food, fuel … women’s bodies.
18-year-old Ora’s decision to move in with her aunt is a bad one. She’s landed herself in the middle of nowhere with a deluded activist who wants to change the world, one illegal birth at a time. Sooner or later someone is going to die and Ora doesn’t know where to turn.
The beach is her only sanctuary and it’s here that she meets Jake, thoughtful and experienced, who encourages her to live a little. So why is it that as soon as she starts to have some fun, everything goes dangerously wrong?
A gripping coming-of-age adventure that will leave you on the edge of your seat.
Also, there's a book trailer! My friend's daughters made it to help me promote it. Being an indie author means trying all sorts of ways to get it out in the world.