This workshop with Sophie Hamley from Hachette is a rare chance to hear straight from a publisher the do’s and don’ts of getting published.
If you’ve ever dreamt of seeing your manuscript in print, don’t miss this opportunity!
This workshop is via teleconference but we are using Screen Territory’s state-of-the-art equipment so participants can ask questions and interact with Sophie.
Email email@example.com to book your place as numbers are limited.
Sophie Hamley from Hachette will be in Katherine to hold this workshop on how to get your work noticed by publishers.
If you’ve got a manuscript or an idea that you want to see in print one day, don’t miss this chance for advice from an experienced member of the publishing industry.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book as numbers are limited.
Sophie Hamley from publishing house Hachette will be in Darwin to deliver this workshop on how to get your work ready to pitch it to a publisher, and how to approach publishers.
With many years of experience as a publisher and previously a literary agent, don’t miss this opportunity for some insider knowledge!
Email email@example.com to book, as numbers are strictly limited.
Andrea Baird speaks with Eye of the Storm Writers’ Festival guest, Jessie Cole on WRITING, the LANDSCAPE and ‘FINDING HOME’ – this year’s festival theme.
Andrea: Tell me about your impressions of the Alice Springs landscape.
Jessie: The landscape is completely alien to me. It’s incredibly beautiful … but it’s so foreign. I feel like it’s almost more foreign than the places I’ve been to overseas. When I got off the plane I almost felt like …. I couldn’t find my footing. But I was filled with wonder and awe about it, but … a little bit off kilter.
Andrea: That’s amazing. It’s such a stark impression.
Jessie: It’s probably just because I’m so home-based. I always get a shock when I see the way Australia is represented at large because I think of Australia as exactly where I’m from … which is incredibly green and incredibly wet and I know that’s just a tiny pocket of the country, but it feels like the whole country to me because it’s my world. Alice Springs is my direct opposite in a sense. But that’s why I wanted to come, because I wanted to experience it.
Andrea: And is it inspiring for your writing process?
Jessie: Yeah, it really has made me think about heaps of things that have been …below the surface for me for quite a long time. That’s how I feel about the landscape actually, I feel like everything about it is on the surface, rather than below. It has a kind of raw feeling as if everything is on display, everything is visible, and so it’s really made me think about what isn’t on display in my homelands. Because my homeland is so overgrown and it’s so quick to grow, everything is kind of covered and you can’t see anything anymore. And what I mean by that is the history … it’s not apparent. I’ve lived there my whole life, so nearly 40 years, and being here I’m so struck with what I haven’t seen. So it’s this kind of parallel experience that I’m having here at the festival … that I’m finding quite … confronting as well as interesting and meaningful.
Andrea: And how’s it been talking with the other writer’s, generally being at the festival, and the readers responses to your books.
Jessie: It’s been a really lovely festival. It’s always a bit random how festivals go in terms of how people interact and who you meet and how people connect and if your readers come and talk to you, and this has been a very inclusive, friendly festival where everyone is open. That part of it’s been really lovely.
Andrea: So just tell me a bit about how you started writing.
Jessie: I started writing as part of a therapeutic process, so sort of accidentally. Even the therapy process was accidental, because I only turned up at the therapist because I had chronic migraines and I was trying to get my neck fixed. I went to an Alexander Practitioner, someone advised me to do that, and then she coaxed me into talking about my life, and then she coaxed me into writing about my life, and then she told me that she thought my writing was publishable. So it was a backwards way to enter the space of being a writer. I saw her for about five years and she never ever critiqued my work from the point of view of whether or not it was any good, she just discussed it based on what I was talking about, what issues were being raised, underlying metaphors or symbolism. So it was a very soft way of entering the writing world, to not be judged. I do think it was a lovely beginning. It allowed me to establish a really whole and safe place to write from, which is really important to me. I could never write under a really critical gaze.
Andrea: So how long did it take you to share your writing publicly?
Jessie: It was quite a long process because the first thing that I wrote during that therapy process took me years and I didn’t tell anyone. Except for my therapist, I didn’t show anyone anything. I wasn’t sharing it with friends or family even. So once I had gotten to the end of that process and I had a whole book, then I started to tell people that I’d written it and it really shocked everyone because no-one even knew that I had …
Andrea: That you were writing a novel basically….
Jessie: Yeah, or that I was writing at all or that I had any connection with writing. So then I started showing my friends and family and eventually I submitted it to a couple of regional type competitions where you got to go have a residential fellowship with other writers and I was awarded those things. It was just a really incremental process to begin to share it with the public.
Before my books came out I wrote a few journalistic pieces and that was really accidental as well. I’d bumped into this bloke who I’d been to high school with, and he was a writer―he was a travel writer―and he showed a bit of interest in the fact that I had written this secret novel. He’d heard about it from a mutual friend. He thought it was really bizarre that I’d write a whole novel and never tell anyone about it. So that got him interested and he asked if he could read it and after he’d read it he said something along the lines of―“I think that you could write for a living. I think that you could write journalistic pieces or personal essays…” And he actually submitted a few of my little stories around the place for me because I didn’t know anything about how to do that, and they ended up being published in the Big Issue. And he also commissioned me to write a couple of pieces for his travel magazine, which was pretty funny because I was almost a total non traveller. He was the first person who ever published me. For me, being published took someone else coaxing me from the outside. I lived in this little forest home and I needed people to coax me to come out and there were a few people willing to do that.
Andrea: So mentors have been important to you.
Jessie: They have been so important to me. There’s a guy lots of people know, his name is Peter Bishop and he used to be the Creative Director of Varuna which is the writers’ house in the Blue Mountains and he picked up my work early and he just championed my writing so hard and so passionately. He’s looked out for me the whole way. And he’s really lovely because he’s like my therapist was, he doesn’t really like to talk about writing in a critical way he just likes to have conversations around what you are writing. He’s a really big believer in conversation not criticism.
Andrea: So what are the themes you are exploring in your work?
Jessie: I’m definitely exploring small town living, living in a rural area. I’m interested in characters who are sort of insider/outsiders―who have been part of the community forever but are still on the outside, for whatever reason. In Darkness on the Edge of Town the main character is on the outside because he transgresses some of the rules of the culture at large, sometimes he’s kinder than is appropriate, and he’s sort of punished for that. I just find that insider/outsider thing a fascinating concept and I guess I feel a little bit like that in my own town. So in Deeper Water the main character is similar, she’s been home schooled and she’s not connected to the wider culture at large but she’s been there in that town her whole life. She has a really strong connection to her homeplace but once she goes into the town she’s almost a stranger. I would call them both (Darkness on the Edge of Town and Deeper Water) quite strong feminist texts. I’m interested in examining gender, masculinity, violence and things like that too.
Andrea: So when you’re writing are you reading alongside? Like what’s your research process?
Jessie: When I’m writing I don’t read that much fiction although I read a lot of fiction normally. During the writing process I tend to read non-fiction but not necessarily straight-out research, which I don’t really do at all. I tend to read non-fiction texts which almost go alongside what I’m thinking about, but don’t seem directly linked. When I was writing Deeper Water, which is in lots of ways about living a very simple life―the characters move through the world with not much of an agenda or any ideas around success, they’re almost completely oblivious to those things, they’re just being―and at the time I was reading this non-fiction book which I really loved, it’s called something like The Secret World of Doing Nothing, which was an examination of the value or meaning in those moments when you’re not task focused. Just as one example.
Andrea: So are you working on something, is something else brewing?
Jessie: Not like that. I do a lot of short personal essays that get published around the place, so until I get a really compelling idea for fiction I just won’t force anything. I will wait for that, and in the meantime I write things that are non-fiction around preoccupations I have.
Andrea: Because you were saying that the writing process of novel writing is a very intense thing to take on.
Jessie: Yes it is, and if you don’t have a really compelling point of beginning it’s almost impossible to go the distance because the idea itself has to have a kind of power. Otherwise it’s a sort of punishment to create something that big that takes that long …
Andrea: What did you think of the theme for this festival, what did it mean for you?
Jessie: Well for me, because I’ve never properly left home, I feel I’m a bit unusual. I feel staying home is quite a unique choice to make in today’s world. Nowadays, everyone seems to leave home as a matter of course. Culturally, becoming an adult involves leaving home, whereas for me it hasn’t been that way. It’s been really interesting to be here in Alice Springs and to see how―I mean I know this but to really understand it―to see what a privilege it’s been to stay. Because my home is still standing, it’s a very safe place. It hasn’t always been, there were times in my early life when home was incredibly unsafe, but the actual structure of it still stands. It’s still a very supportive place for me, whereas it’s really clear here that so many people do not have that opportunity or do not have access to that. I’ve always known that but it’s more apparent here at this festival.
Just generally, I am interested in how that lack of groundedness in place correlates with a sense of disconnection from the environment, like how difficult it is to get people to care about things like climate change if they’re constantly on the move. I mean, you have to stay in one place to notice things are changing! If you are in a constant state of moving on then how do you know if the weather’s changing? I know scientists are measuring it, but I’m talking about the lived experience of that process. I think that’s an interesting thing for us all to think about. Obviously, there are enormous benefits to seeing a large amount of the world and having a wide world view and understanding the complexity and diversity that exists. That’s one incredibly important experience, but then I think there is this other incredibly important experience which is to deeply know a place and to deeply love a place and to deeply celebrate a place, and to have a reciprocal relationship with that place, where it matters that that tree died, and it matters that the farmer down the road has cleared land and the creek has been washed out. Those things are important too, because they are!
Jessie Cole grew up in an isolated valley in Northern NSW, and lived a bush childhood of creek swimming and barefoot free-range adventuring. Her first novel ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ was shortlisted for the 2013 ALS Gold Medal, and her work has also appeared in Best Australian Essays, Meanjin, Kill Your Darlings, Island Magazine, The Lifted Brow, Good Weekend, and the Guardian. Her latest novel, ‘Deeper Water’, is ‘a compelling examination of our relationship with nature’. (ABR)
Andrea Baird is a travelling blogger and festival volunteer. You can read more of her writing at Alive ‘n’ Moving.