Sunday, June 12, 2011

Anyone in sheer panic from lack of Q&A? Well here you go! YAY!

Pip Pip Poppies,Here for 'Your eyes only' (Bond song) is a really teriffic Q&A with none other then Sue Saliba! She's the author of The Skin of a Star, Watching Seagulls, Something in the World Called Love and upcoming novel (which I'm currently reading and will be soon reviewing here) Alaska.You can go to her website here; I'm sure she'd love to hear from you, even if you just want to tell her that you enjoyed this Q&A! Okey Dokey then, here is the mystic Q&A! I had a lot of fun doing it and found all the answers very interesting! Thank you Sue!

Have you always wanted to be a published writer?I always found – even as a child – that I experienced something special when I wrote, some kind of fulfilment that I didn’t get from anything else. It was as if my life became more dimensional. So naturally I was drawn to writing – and I was encouraged by my teachers to be a writer. However, I had no idea what the practical path to this was. I started out being an English teacher because I thought this was a way of being close to writing. Of course, I hadn’t factored in the endless corrections, the draining task of disciplining and the awful regular yard duty sessions – as well as the fact that it wasn’t the ideal occupation for the shyest person in the world like me. After a few years, I heard about a writing course at RMIT – and I instantly enrolled. That was where I wrote my first novel.

What did you feel when you heard that your novel was being published?I felt tremendous excitement - and a twinge of fear. Of course, I was thrilled to have my novel accepted but along with that came a slight feeling of apprehension because suddenly all those ideas and thoughts, moods and feelings I’d been alone with for a number of years were going to be out there in the world. It felt a little like stepping out of the shadows – both exhilarating and frightening. 
Did you use an agent?Yes, I have an agent in Sydney. She’s wonderful and very supportive in every way.
How long has the process been, roughly?I began ‘Alaska’ about 4 and a half years ago.  I’d written the first few pages when I heard that my previous novel, ‘something in the world called love,’ had just been accepted by Penguin. So, suddenly I had to re-enter the world of ‘something…’, to re-work parts of that. Then I moved from Melbourne to Phillip Island (which was a huge shift for me) and amongst it all, I was teaching Novel Writing at RMIT. So ‘Alaska’ remained just a few pages for about a year, although now I realise that the sensibility of the novel was growing inside me all that time. When I returned to it, I was ready to write without any more interruptions, both practically and emotionally. I wrote slowly (sometimes only 500 words a week) and from beginning to end without any real editing. After that, the novel was accepted for publication and the last 18 months of the process – particularly the last 6 months – have been spent working intensely with my Penguin editor. Did you get much say about covers? I was shown a cover design and I fell in love with it instantly. I’m sure if I’d not liked it or wanted aspects of it changed, the publisher would have listened to my concerns but there was no need. Allison Colpoys, the designer, is immensely talented and I love her work. I feel she instinctively understands my writing. She and I never actually discussed the novel – she simply read it and designed the cover. 
What are you currently reading?‘Lost Woods, The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson.’ I’m struck by her passion and her deep love of nature and of writing – and how gifted she was in both these areas. I’m also moved and inspired by her own public struggle to protect the natural world and the story of how, in the face of real opposition, she virtually began the modern environmental movement.
What is your favourite book?‘The Snow Goose.’ I re-read it earlier this year and I cried, just as I had when I first read it as a child. It is so beautiful and simple and sad.

 If you were stranded on a desert island, what one thing would you take?I know she’s not a ‘thing’ and I’m sure she would be very naughty at times but I couldn’t be without my best friend, Sally. She is my shadow – or perhaps I’m hers – and constant companion. She is a little red pomchi (ie. Pomeranian and chihuhaha) and she came to me five years ago via a ‘free to a good home’ sign in the local supermarket. I love her dearly.

What does being a published author mean to you?It means I’ve been given a privileged space – to read, to write, to reflect, to think about the world in a way that is not constrained by the demands of a conventional job. It also means I have a responsibility – to write faithfully and meaningfully, to be sincere.

What was your first job?A local aspiring politician was friends with my parents so he would pay my brother, sister and me fifty cents each to trudge up and down outer suburban streets delivering his pamphlets. I was too young at the time to take any interest in the kind of policies or the ethos espoused in those pamphlets but, looking back now – and reflecting on the many millions of dollars this man accumulated over the years through various questionable business dealings, particularly in real estate – I assume I would not take up the job if it were offered today (despite the lucrative pay deal!).

And lastly, what tips can you give to upcoming writers?I’d suggest reading and writing what they are passionate about and using their writing as a way of exploring their world. I’d also say that it is helpful to see your writing as part of a dialogue with other writing and with the larger world; what I mean by that is, I’ve found it helps to adopt an attitude that a piece of writing doesn’t have to be perfect, that it isn’t a final ‘thing’ that stands alone but rather that it is an energetic expression, something passionate and powerful that is part of a larger conversation.I guess I’m talking about participation and being part of a community to bring your writing alive, to give it meaning. That community might be other people you physically meet up with in a workshop group or it might be something less personal. 

Thank you again Sue!
Keep being inspired,


  1. Great interview! I always love your interviews :) Alaska has an awesome cover! :) x

  2. i've heard her books are fabulous, your interview has made me want to read them even more. you ask great questions.
    how's your writing going? are you taking part in national young writers month on Express Media? xx


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