Interview with Goldie Alexander

Sunday, December 23, 2012

I originally interviewed Goldie Alexander for this blog three years ago. She's a Melbourne-based author who's written fiction and non-fiction books for all ages, including YA. I'm interviewing her again as she has a young adult novel being published shortly as an ebook, Dessi's Romance (Indra Books). This interview is about her experience of ebook publishing, writing about Schoolies, and her writing process (you can't not talk about the writing process). For more info about Goldie & her books, here's her website. 

Dessi's Romance features Schoolies celebrations. Why did you choose to write about Schoolies? Did you do any specific research? (I assume you have not actually attended Schoolies yourself!) And what do you think of the Schoolies culture?
You are quite right. I am much too old to attend Schoolies Week but have read a lot about it and talked to youngsters who went. Schoolies Week is a rite-of-passage for youngsters: the child turning into an adult. It seemed an ideal setting for these young women and men to question the adherence to their friendship and their search for identity. Apropos the ‘culture’ of Schoolies Week, we read and see a lot on the media about the negatives. but I think this is an ideal way for youngsters to celebrate without parents or supervisors. They have to learn what is and what isn’t appropriate. Some seem to find this hard and that’s when the media latches onto an unfortunate incident. In ‘Dessi’s Romance’, Dessi and Emma, who have been as close as sisters since they were babies, have to sort out their feelings for each other when a new man comes between them. 

What is your writing process like? Do you write consistently or only when inspired? Do you write many drafts quickly, or have an early draft that's almost perfect? 
I admire splurgers like mad. My writing process is more ‘ snail like’. Sometimes  it seems that I have to squeeze out every word. Then it needs a lot of re-editing. Mark Twain once said that he spent a whole afternoon putting in a comma, and another afternoon taking it out. No early draft of any work has ever been perfect. Would that it was so. Maybe in the next life? 

Can you tell me a bit about your inspirations and what drew you to writing in the first place? 
In one word: reading. I learnt to read when I was three and I have never stopped. Books take me far away from my present reality, and take me to oyher worlds. When life is tough- as it was this year after a major accident which left me disabled for months- they proved my salvation. I bought a Kindle and downloaded over a 150 books.
As for what inspires me: what I read, what I see, what I hear. I am one of those strange people who actually enjoys listening to people on their mobiles. In a word, the world around me is my inspiration. 

Is each novel you write easier than the last? Or is every one challenging? Where there any specific points at which you struggled with this novel? 
Each novel is as difficult as the last. Because I write in so many genres( otherwise I get bored) I am always challenging myself. Eg in the last 2 years I have written a fantasy verse novel, a YA novel set in 1954 at the time of the Petrov Affair, and am currently starting work an adult ‘chick-lit’. My major activity at present is marketing ‘Dessi’s Romance’. 

Is having a book published exclusively as an ebook a different experience to having a book in print? Do you prefer reading either format? Do you think the print book is on the way out? 
I adore my Kindle. Without it I would have spent most of 2012 going quite mad. Ultimately what format a book appears isn’t all that relevant. What matters are the words, the characters and the story. I think hardcopy might gradually disappear. What will remain are story picture books for little readers, and maybe elegant coffee table books. Of course this is a time of transition and who can predict the future with any accuracy? The monks who illustrated all those wonderful bibles must have felt the same way when they first caught sight of a printing press. ‘Never catch on,’ they must have told each other. Same as when Penguin decided to produce soft covers. Enough said. 

Imagining you could travel back in time and give advice to your teenaged self about writing and life, what would you tell her? And would she listen? 
I would tell her to start writing very much earlier and not leave it all so late. For some years I lived next door to Elizabeth Jolly. While she was writing I was swanning about.  If I had been writing alongside her, maybe I would now be as good/famous as she was????
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