On average, how long does it take for you to write a novel?
For the last eight years I’ve been contracted to write a book a year. Fitting in my rural responsibilities as well, means I actually only have about seven to eight months to write a book. I have weeks where I may only write for two days and others where I can do a lot more. A rule of thumb for me is to try and attempt at least 5,000 words a week. Some of that will undoubtedly be deleted, but consistency helps the narrative to flow.
Can you tell us a scene that did not make it into the final print for your latest novel An Uncommon Woman?
With An Uncommon Woman I actually added a chapter during the editing process to ensure clarity and to show a particular characters reaction to a major historical event. In the case of An Uncommon Woman, this was the October 1929 stock market crash in New York that impacted the western world at the time and eventually led to Australia’s Great Depression.
Have you read anything that has changed the way you view fiction novels?
D’Arcy Francis Niland was an Australian author who wrote prolifically during his lifetime. He is well-known for his classic novel The Shiralee, a best-selling book which has never been out of print since its first publication in 1955. The Shiralee captivates me. I’ve read it a number of times. A shiralee is a swag, a burden, and in D’Arcy Niland’s novel, the lead character, Macauley’s is Buster, his four year old daughter. The narrative illuminates the bush in all its beauty and roughness. The bush that I know through my own family’s tenure on the land. The simple arc of the narrative combines with a sense of time and place which you rarely see in works of rural literature today. The Shiralee is simply a wonderful bush yarn.
My second would be Gone With The Wind. This is a feisty woman, determined, opinionated and living life on her own terms. Her greatest love is the family plantation, Tara. History and strong female characters. What a combination. Unfortunately for Rhett, for most of the time Scarlett didn’t give a damn either.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
To be patient. Writing is all about redrafting, redrafting, redrafting, ensuring the finished manuscript is the best it possibly can be.
What research do you do when you are brainstorming a story?
As all my works include Australia’s pastoral history, research is a major component of my work. Once I’ve decided on a time period and location I then read widely on the subject. Once I start writing I utilize archives from state libraries and where possible my own families records. It’s easy to become caught up in research so once I’ve begun the narrative I only look research particular things when the narrative calls for it.
What can readers expect next in your writing?
Something big and bold. Thank you for having me to visit. N x
About An Uncommon Woman by Nicole Alexander
A new world is waiting for her …
It’s 1929, and the world is changing. Cars are no longer the privilege of the rich. Hemlines are rising. Movies are talking. And more and more women are entering the workforce.
For Edwina Baker, however, life on her family’s farm in Western Queensland offers little opportunity to be anything other than daughter, sister and, perhaps soon, wife.
But Edwina wants more. She wants to see the world, meet new people, achieve things. For while she has more business sense than her younger brother, it will be Aiden who one day inherits the farm.
Then the circus comes to town. Banned from attending by her father, Hamilton, Edwina defiantly rides to the showground dressed as a boy. There she encounters two men who will both inadvertently alter the course of her life: pastoralist Mason with his modern city friends; and Will, a labourer who also dreams of escape.
And when the night ends in near-disaster, this one act of rebellion strikes at the heart of the Baker family. Yet it also offers Edwina the rare chance to prove herself in a man’s world. The question is, how far is she prepared to go, and how much is she prepared to risk?
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