Where do you get your ideas?
This is the most often asked question so I’ve created a link to some images that have given me inspiration. I write from what I know (love, loss, delight, wonder) even though the characters might be very different from me. Sometimes I write the untold story. I’ll look for a different slant on something or the untold version of history such as in Happy Birthday Lucie Rommell and Famine Girls. Sometimes I’m trying to create awareness or to name what I care about.
I listen to the stories of other people, especially older people and sometimes write from that. In this photo Moya is telling me about her Aunty Maisie. This story lead to the title poem of my second book.
Last year I wrote poems about Baher Mohammed, the young Dad who was imprisoned in Egypt, and the Nigerian girls who were kidnapped from their school. I often write when injustice gets me hot under the collar.
I have a deep attachment to the natural world and write about that but within a landscape poem, I’m writing about us, as people and how we intersect with our environment and each other.
I have written quite a few poems inspired by inventions or work. This man Ian Tinetti makes cricket bats from willows he grows and he and his wife Trish created Cricket Willow. I want to write about that.
Writing about Estonia is an ongoing project for me. It is an inspiring story that deserves to be known. I’ve talked to Estonian people there and here and I want to get these poems written while the inter-world war generation is still alive.
Do you have a day job?
Yes I do. I have always had a day job, though now I work part time, so I can commit to my writing. I work in the funeral industry as a Funeral Director and Celebrant. I meet with families when someone has died and organise the funerals they want. When I work as a celebrant, I am working with the family to create the ceremony. This is very special work. Interestingly it calls on the same skills as in being a writer; listening, empathizing, researching and redrafting what is required.
Previously I have worked teaching writing in university and schools so I know a bit about what required in terms of curriculum requirements and approaches to writing and reading. I did my Masters on the teaching of writing and my Doctorate on the teaching of reading. Let me know if you’d like me to work with your staff or students.
I’ve also worked as a Writer for Local Government and as a Media Officer for Freedom From Hunger. I’ve worked in shops and caravan parks and a long time ago in an institution for children. When I was younger I taught in Tonga for a couple of years as an Australian Volunteer.
Will you come to our school/university/Probus club/Parents’ group?
Yes. I love interacting with an audience and have always found it very satisfying to help people achieve their writing goals. Just send me an email telling me what you’d hope to achieve and we’ll go from there. Or I’m happy to speak about aspects of my work that are specific to the interests of your group.
Do you suffer from writer’s block?
Almost the opposite. My head is bursting with ideas but until now, I’ve always struggled to get time to write. For me it is really important to have switch off time so I’ll go to a gallery or the beach or a walk around the block or in a beautiful place to clear my head. But procrastination….that is another thing.
Why do you write?
I cannot not write. It is a drive within me. I want to capture that moment or tell another version of what we know. Words are a lifeline for me. They have helped me through the worst of times and added joy to the best of times.