The Big Red Chair…
I started interviewing independent authors in my Big Red Chair a little while ago. I began with the inestimable Ann Swinfen whose books are such a delightful discovery. I have interviewed SJA Turney whose Roman fiction is so full of imperial drama and life. Lucinda Brant has allowed herself to be scrutinised… she who could justifiably take up Georgette Heyer’s crown. And I have others to come: hot property coauthors Mark Williams and Saffina Desforges and also Barbara Silkstone who is an electric author who thinks outside the square. That’s something I admire in a writer.
The ability to be so lateral in their approach to writing and publishing is why I choose to interview independent writers on this blog. And before I interview any others, I thought I’d take a giant step and put myself in the Big Red Chair. Mainly becuase I wanted to see what it felt like but also because I’m due to release THAT NEW FANTASY and where better to start the promotional bandwagon than on one’s own blog where one does have some control.
Wish me luck!
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
I was born in Tasmania, Australia and lived the most wonderful baby boomer childhood of freedom and excitement. No stranger danger, no lifejackets on boats, no bike helmets… basically just an excuse to rack up as many scars on ones body as one could. I rode bikes, horses, swam, sailed, built treehouses in the bush, walked for miles through the bush with a packed lunch without fear and knowing I was safe and sound. I worked on a farm in my teenage years: milking 20 cows and then bottling the milk and delivering around the villages close by, collected eggs, fed pigs, rode horses and mustered sheep for shearing, dipping and crutching. It was the most superlative life that one can imagine. I went to a state primary school, a state high school and a state matriculation college. Secured two major academic scholarships to university and polished off an Arts degree with majors in history and political science. I then studied post graduate librarianship.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
Twelve? My stars, that’s a life time ago and I can barely remember. I think possibly a vet, if not a member of the Australian Olympic Equestrian Team as I was horse-mad. If not that, then maybe a ballet-dancer.
At eighteen, I had no idea. I was floating round university merely concentrating on passing the annual examinations and having a great time. Real life seemed a long way away and most definitely ‘out there’ somewhere.
At thirty, I was a mother and dipping into writing and was beginning to find seeds of a youthful fascination were once again curling skyward.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
That time was definitely on my side.
4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?
A.: My family have a place on the east coast of Tasmania,
a place surrounded by white beaches and pristine water. It was crucial to my very existence as I grew up. Later on my husband and I bought our own little beachside cottage not far from the family compound… a place called House which is almost my best friend.
B.: I became a radio and television journalist with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (think BBC Australian style). It probably took me so far out of my comfort zone (I hate the public eye to the point of panic attacks) that anything I manage to accomplish now is almost a picnic in the park.
C.: We, my husband, children and I, moved back to Tasmania almost twenty years ago after working on the mainland of Australia for 15 years. It was a watershed time for us all as this place has an amazing freedom, a prevailing atmosphere that seeps into one’s bones. One is able to get away from the pell-mell world and think on life. It gave me the time and place to once again grow into my own person.
5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you- – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? Aren’t they obsolete?
I’m a writer who has been published in the new media. My novels are POD published for print and e-published for all the digital modes of reading that are available. Reading and books have just become more exciting than ever, not obsolete, by the opening up of things like Smashwords and Amazon Kindle which has given the reading world even more choice. Actually it’s beyond exciting!
6. Please tell us about your latest book…
My latest fantasy is called A Thousand Glass Flowers and everyone who reads Mesmered knows all about it so I won’t go into any detail. Just watch for availability.
7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?
The end of intolerance. I get furiously angry with racial and religious intolerance but I hardly think my books would contribute toward greater benevolence in society and I am not political enough on my blog.
8. Whom do you most admire and why?
JK Rowling because she is self-effacing, wise and has contributed singlehandedly to the re-emergence of reading in popular youth culture, Oprah Winfrey for unparalleled humanitarian effort and conscience. The Dalai Lama because he is what he preaches.
9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
To be content and take pleasure in small things.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
To read, read, read and to write, write write and to think outside the traditional square.
11.What are the last five websites you visited?
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing… my reports!
12. What is your guiltiest pleasure that few know about?
Lying in the sun.
13. If music be the food of love, what do you think writing is and please explain your answer?
The food of the soul. My soul. When I write I am lost in a world of my own making, I speak with characters of my own making, I solve dilemmas of my own making. There is an extraordinary sense of power in the exercise but it is tempered by the fact that I alone must govern the way in which a story runs, and with great empathy. To know that I have moved my characters through an arc of development to a worthy conclusion is heartwarming… soul-warming. That’s the way I see it.
*Well that wasn’t so bad. It did make me think a little harder about aspects of my existence… but then if that helps readers get to know a writer a little bit better then that’s okay. So look out indies… there’s questions waiting for you. If you would like to be featured here, contact me via www.pruebatten.com*
Wow! To interview oneself takes courage! Well done. And how wonderful the interview turned out to be! Thank you so much for sharing yourself with us.You can get up out of the Big Red Chair and proudly walk off stage head held high (Graham Norton would agree).
Thanks Lucinda… its very easy to be the interrogator, I needed to see what it felt like to be the interrogated! The thing I noticed most is how easy it is to be flip, when a small degree of honesty would really be the best way.
Way to go, asking yourself the hard questions and not letting yourself off easy! Must be the journalist in you 🙂
Not sure Rowenna. In truth, as a journalist I would like to ask really personal questions but as an interviewee, I think I would hate having to answer those same questions. There would be vast tracts of silence, or in the case of the blog… enormous blank spaces.
A fascinating insight, Prue. Thanks.
What I found of particular interest were your formative years. That freedom as a child is so important, not just for growing up, but for giving an individual the ability and confidence to challenge orthodox thinking later in life.
Theroux said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Perhaps because most are locked into a certain way of thinking from an early age, where the established order is set in stone and lateral thinking frowned upon.
My latest post at MWi explores how the publishing debate is changing. The commercial argument has been won. Amanda Hocking and John Locke were the pioneers there. Eisler and Konrath led the way for the legacy writers to join them.
Next month on MWi I’ll be looking at ways in which the Reformation in publishing is bringing about a New Renaissance, as writers once again become artists, not only in what they write, but also how they deliver.
But you’re way ahead. POD, ebooks, blog flash fiction, novels on twitter. New pioneers are emerging, and when the history of the New Renaissance comes to be written the name of Prue Batten will be there among them.
Mark, that is such a topnotch accolade. And don’t mistake me, I am truly grateful. But the reality is that I’m just one of many who turned their backs on a system that rarely gave anyone a go.
Twice now I’ve received the ‘commercially viable’ tag for novels I’ve written and yet no mainstream publisher would take the chance. In the end, as life passes before your eyes, you really either have to take the bull by the horns or sink without a trace. I suffered such professional ignominy going indie, but in almost every way it has created a personal delight. I have a feeling that if I had gone mainstream, the stress would have been phenomenal. We indies are masters of our own destinies… as much as we want to be and that suits me fine.
I think all pioneers are driven by frustration with the old order.
As for professional ignominy, I suspect Shakespeare would have been burning the pioneer trail with you.
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
Masters of our own destinies? Absolutely.
Which begs the question, having got this far, would you now sacrifice that for a mainsteam deal?
Good point. Would I? Possibly/probably not.
I’d prefer an agent savvy with the independent publishing world and a professional high profile book marketing organisation (Do they exist? If they don’t they should) Such a team would be singularly attractive. Less stress for me and allows me to continue to write.
I’d also much prefer film rights to be contracted than a book contract. That’d be super. If the movie’s okay, the book can come later: my way!
Shakespeare. My hero!
What a wonderful post, Prue. I enjoyed reading about your past. Your childhood sounds idyllic. In a lot of ways it’s like mine; though I was obsessed by horses I never actually got to ride them much. But the outdoors, the freedom. Fantastic. I also love the photo of you. It’s a lovely one. 🙂
That is the wonder of OZ, isn’t it? That superlative freedom and the great outdoors. Thanks for commenting Nikalee.
if only those questions weren’t so daunting…
Thank you for answering them yourself, it’s always wonderful to hear more about a loved indie author! 🙂