(there may be those reading this who don’t understand the above image of glasses. Aussies will know! ; These are the infamous glasses of the equally infamous Aussie icon, Dame Edna Everidge )
Or in simple Prue-speak: Hi!
Recently on Facebook, there’s been a concerted effort by grateful writers to name and thank those who have inspired them in their careers. I love it – love the positive vibe and the sheer niceness of it all. I’d like to take that one step further and name those ‘creatives’ who have inspired me – because in my own writing life, it’s very much the blending of art-forms and like minds.
Writing is most often living in a bubble. There’d be few writers who wouldn’t agree. We might be in a 12th century bubble, a Roman bubble, a WWI bubble, or even a mist-draped, fern-edged fantasy world bubble, but a bubble by any other name is still … a bubble.
So, communication with other writers is just a touch important. We chew the fat, rant and rave, weep and gnash teeth, laugh, drink and eat together where and when we can.
I write in a huge bubble here at the bottom of the world (I’m the tiny red dot at the bottom of Australia!). And whilst my island has produced some astonishing mainstream writers, in my experience it doesn’t really approve of or understand the parallel world of indie writers.
It’d be so easy to give up in the face of such isolation but thanks to the web, the reverse is true. I’m only as isolated as the time it takes to log on. Every step of my writing life since 2008 has been inspired and energised by interaction with some of the best creatives in the world.
In the style of my dear friend, Dame Edna, I have in fact not just picked those gorgeous gladdies, but have had them gilded by these particular folk.
In the list below, there’s no heirarchy – there is just complete gratitude.
- Simon James Atkinson Turney. Simon and I ‘met’ through a peer review group, way back when, beginning our journey together. He has been a stalwart, wise and supportive friend who has advised, guided, made me laugh and talked me through technological suicide because I’m a Luddite. I value Simon’s opinions above and beyond almost anyone else I know in my writing life. The fact that my husband and I feel a complete part of the Turney household is a complete bonus.
- *Jane*. My friend lives in Istanbul and would prefer to remain ‘incognito’, but truly, she has been there with every book I’ve written. She’s a wonderfully lyrical historical fiction writer whose work I laud and without whose beta-read I would never ever decide to publish a title. She’s also been my eyes and ears on the ground in 12th century Constantinople as well and I bless the day we met through Richard Armitage.
- Patricia Sweet – CEO of the best little publishing house in the world. Pat’s miniature books are widely acclaimed for their delicious artistry and their content, and we met through my fantasy writing. My darling Pat is witty and tells me in black and white when I’m creatively out of line. She also offered me a Collaboration Contract and we’ve had such fun with that – with much more to come. We hold a unique partnership that has seen us through the good days/bad days of life. I adore her and worship at her feet!
- Dorothy Dunnett. Icon. Queen of historical fiction. Sadly passed away. Please google. She is an utter inspiration with her powerful narratives and glorious prose.
- Louise Rule. Friend, confidante, and always there. Still waters that run deliciously deep.
- Rebecca Bingham. After Pat and Simon, the third person to have been with me from the almost-get-go. Rebecca is a calm visionary, a publisher and book artist in her own right – someone who in the dark hours of the night (she never sleeps!) seems to be able to think with such clarity.
- Greg Johnston, otherwise known as GS Johnston. Greg and I grew up together and his dry wit can be breathtaking, his elegant prose a thing of great beauty. He’s the last writer I’ve actually had lunch with – two years ago when he was in Tassie briefly. If you haven’t heard of him, google him and at the very least, read Skin of Water. A powerful book from the pen of a truly gifted writer. I wish I had even just a soupcon of his style.
- Matthew Harffy. Matthew and I ‘met’ on social media (as we all seem to) and his quiet, gently authoritative way has always been appreciated. Matthew has shown that it’s entirely possible to write fiercely flawed heroes with deep souls and that a series can be so much more dimensional because of it. Besides, how can I possibly not be friends with someone who sees my writing as somewhat like the great Patrick O’brian’s!
- Tom Ryan. Tom doesn’t know me from a bar of soap, but I know him from his extraordinary books, Following Atticus and Will’s Red Coat. Tom speaks direct to one’s soul in his books and his effortless and gentle philosophy has done much to make me mindful of my life and my surroundings, a key to an intimate form of writing. I can pick Tom’s work up and open any page at any time of day or night and be inspired.
- Juliet Marillier. Juliet is my most favourite fantasy writer of all time. She inspires me with the depth and breadth of her world-building and myth retelling. She too is a soul-writer, something that seems to be a thread running through my friendships. Juliet and I connect via books and dogs – dogs especially, because we will both tell you, dogs are the glue that holds writers’ lives within reality.
- I might also have a shared eleven – Australian authors who have been great and generous friends. Mandy Jackson-Beverley (despite that she lives in the USA) for being so adept and such a livewire, and Kathryn Gauci for sharing and tagging in things that she knows I will adore. And there’s Alex Martin who lives sometimes in France and sometimes in the UK. We tear our hair out together…
There are others of course, without whose support I couldn’t write. My husband, who is my drink-pourer, back-rubber and so much more besides – half of my soul comes to mind. My daughter, a gifted artist and writer in her own right, a graphic designer who has designed all my covers and designed Brand Prue Batten. My son, who consistently shows me the power of observation and being mindful of this earth on which we live and who seems inordinately proud of a mother who just likes painting with words.
There are also my close friends, Shirley, Ziggy, Willi and Jocy who always support me and even buy my books! There’s Saint Catherine, my patron saint and my son’s godmother, with whom I share rampant royalist tendencies and with whom I laugh and laugh. There’s my much-loved friend in Lyon, Brian, whose erudition and sense of purpose is awe-inspiring. There’s Sheila, Suzi, Margaret, Caroline, Sally and Elizabeth from my embroidery group – their abilities are enough inspiration for everything! There’s also Libby with whom I can talk gardening and recipes because to talk about things other than writing sometimes can be such a relief and she’s always there for moral support.
I’m sure I will have missed folk who are instrumental in my life, and I ask them to forgive me.
But in the meantime, there’s Dame Edna…
As my dear friend from Moonee Ponds opined: ‘My mother used to say that there are no strangers, only friends you haven’t met yet…’
So, I can only assume that my writing life will allow many more such gladdie pickers and gilders into my life.
I can’t wait!