Featured Member – Kate Russell
My ideas come from all sorts of places. Funny little articles in a newspaper or magazine (the idea for my heroine for my adult novel came from a magazine article on a woman that cleaned trauma and crime scenes for a living), things my kids say, an interesting photograph, a human interest story on television…or sometimes they just pop into my head in a completely random way. I’m influenced by my favourite writers too – I’ll read something and think – “Wow. I’d love to write something like that…”
2) What genres are you writing in?
I love fantasy and mystery, so that’s what I write. At the moment I have two novels on the go – a comic murder mystery for adults (along the lines of Janet Evanovich hopefully!), and a young adult novel involving a teenage witch, a bushranger, and magic! Most of the things I write end up with humour in them, even when I try to be deadly serious. My hope is that other people find my writing as amusing as I do! Otherwise I will have a lonely readership of – one.
I’m a proud member of the GCWA writing group, The Ten Penners. We are a group of adults who write for children and young adults. I really enjoy my monthly “fix” with my fellow Penners! This year I’ve promised Marion Martineer (our esteemed leader) that I WILL do my homework every month! We generally have a writing exercise during the meeting which we have to expand on for homework. My track record has not been good…but 2012 is a new year!
I also have a collection of letters, photos and notes which I’ve kept for nearly 17 years now (because that’s how old my daughter is!) detailing my experience of having a premature baby. Both my daughters were premature, but by the time I’d got to the second one I was a bit better at it and she was only five weeks early, so it was not such a drama. My older daughter, however, was born at 27 weeks and weighed less than a kilogram. It was an overwhelming experience and something that deeply affected me and my family. I hope to one day put all that information together, either in a book form or maybe a blog, so that it might help other parents going through the same sort of thing. Maybe I can work on that before another 17 years go by!! Besides, I think my daughters might like to read it.
3) Do you think your childhood influenced your love of writing, and if so in what way?
Oh definitely. Growing up I was surrounded by books. My mother is a huge reader and her house is stuffed full of all sorts of books – novels and biographies, and all the classics. I’ve always loved books and reading too, and my bookshelves are overflowing with books I’ve read and books I’ve yet to read! The best present you can give me is a book, and I love discovering new authors. I think to really understand how to write and communicate with readers you have to be a reader yourself, and read widely. Hopefully I’ve learned something by now…
I had a pretty good imagination as a kid – just ask Big Judy and Little Judy, my imaginary friends. Little Judy was good, and Big Judy was bad. Very bad. She used to get me into LOTS of trouble!
I always liked making up stories in English at school, but my writing really started when I left school and went to the TAFE in Grafton, where I did secretarial studies. This is where I learned to type, and suddenly I wanted to type stories. My mother had a couple of old manual typewriters, and my best friend and I would spend our afternoons after TAFE trying to outdo each other writing the most terrible romances. My heroes bore a strong resemblance to Tom Selleck when he was “Magnum PI”. I had the worst crush on that man. Maybe it was the moustache! I’m not sure what that says about me!
Anyway, our stories were so bad they were good. I’ve still got them and sometimes I dig them out just to have a laugh and see how far I’ve come!
4) Tell us one of the best things you’ve done in your life as a writer.
In May 2009, The Ten Penners self published a collection of fantasy stories for children, “Fan-tas-tic-al Tales”. I contributed one (longish) story, a fairytale and a poem. I learned a lot from the experience, and it was a real thrill to hold a “real” book, with my actual work in it, in my hot little hands! (Copies are still available by the way!) One day when I was in the Burleigh Waters library I saw a copy of our book on the shelves, next to other books by other real author type people, and I had to stop myself from jumping up and down with excitement and shouting “That’s OUR book! Look! That’s a picture of me there! I wrote that!”- because people would have looked at me funny…
5) Tell us about your reading
I love to read. My bookshelves hold everything from fantasy to mystery to romantic suspense to science fiction.
I read a lot of young adult fiction – because the quality of the writing is superb. I love Philip Reeve (my absolute favourite – I could bang on and on about his “Mortal Engines” series), Philip Pullman, Eoin Colfer, JK Rowling, Cornelia Funke and many, many more.
Some of my favourite authors for adults are Janet Evanovich, Sue Grafton, Charlaine Harris, Neil Gaiman, Jasper Fforde, Kate Morton, Gregory Maguire and Reay Tannahill. Less modern authors I enjoy are Agatha Christie, Daphne Du Maurier, and you can’t beat Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters!
6) What relaxes you?
Reading tops the list (no surprises there). I like going to the movies, and can also easily get addicted to good quality television shows, of which there are quite a few at the moment! It’s also fun sometimes to just do girly stuff with my daughters, like shopping! This is much more relaxing when you have money to spend, though…
Recently I’ve dusted off my “Zumba” exercise game for the Wii (which greatly surprised my husband as I’m sure he thought it would never see the light of day!) and I find I actually enjoy it. This is a minor miracle, as exercise is really not my thing. However, even though the muscles I never knew I had are crying out in agony, I actually feel better for it. I am Zumba Queen, Queen of Zumba! Perhaps I should use that as my nom de plume!