Fairymead House soared to life with wine, laughter and not just fantasy tales when Aurealis short-listed Nina D’Aleo joined Bundaberg readers In Conversation last night.
Over a glass of red and Alowishus canapés, D’Aleo enchanted readers (and a swag of our fave Bundaberg Writers Club convicts, myself included) with her down-to-earth honesty, delicious authenticity and colourful anecdotes of her writing career that started aged seven with a flying horse story, scribed with a feather dipped in water… so even the text was magical and invisible 🙂
Some of the gems from last night’s talk:
Coffee and night-time are credited as the tools behind her successfully writing and publishing her science-fiction-esque novels, despite the busy world of her everyday, which includes two sons aged four and six and a husband (age not supplied) and a psychology career which has demanded further study this year.
Nina received her first rejection at age 13 and didn’t get published until her early 30s. She said she could wallpaper her bedroom with the number of rejection slips and letters that she has received during that time (and it was pretty cheap wallpaper at that).
Her big break, she says, came from a previous Bundaberg WriteFest where she was interviewed and successfully acquired by The Cameron Creswell Agency (agent Sophie Hamley). She said, “I owe (WriteFest Director) Sandy Curtis big time, thank you Sandy.”
Although she’s only been published in recent years, Nina said she always thought of herself as a writer. I think that statement resonated with all the writers present – that it’s not about whether you’re published or not, but that writing is what you are – and WHAT YOU DO.
A background in psychology has injected additional layers of depth into her characters. “Having people tell you their deepest stories helps bring out, I think, a greater depth in your own stories. Readers say my characters have a lot of depth.”
Patricia C Wrede and her world-building resources came highly recommended.
Writing and publishing is a business process as well as a creative process, even though most writers just want to remain in the creative confines of their art
Working on a different book can energise you when you return to a previous WIP, especially a long-term series like the Demon War Chronicles.
Nina struggled with the writing of subsequent novels after publishing her first book because she is very demanding of her writing quality and will often rewrite and rewrite scenes until she is happy with them – and because real life still gets in the way (THIS resonated with all the published authors in attendance).
Nina D’Aleo In Conversation was brought to Bundaberg as part of the Queensland Writers Centre’s 25th anniversary celebrations (1990-2015).
For the first time last night, Bundaberg writers met the delightful Katie Woods, who took over the reins of the Queensland Writers Centre as its new chief executive officer two months.
Katie previously worked at the State Library of Queensland where she was most recently Manager of Reading, Writing and Ideas, and worked closely with the QWC on many partnered projects including Read Around Gladstone and the delivery of the Queensland Writers Fellowships.
Wide Bay writers are always a little nervous when there’s a changing of the guard at QWC. Although the centre is based in Brisbane, it has been highly supportive of its regional members in the past decade, recognising the tyranny of distance and the effect that has on rural careers, and subsequently implementing many initiatives for regional writers and supporting them in fresh and diverse ways. Without the Queensland Writers Centre and their courses, I wouldn’t be where I am today – and I am grateful for their continuing support.
Fortunately, Katie’s love of Queensland writing, and her own empathy for regional Queensland, means the QWC – and Bundaberg writing – are in safe hands for many years to come.
Thanks, Nina, for dropping in at Bundaberg and sharing your deepest thoughts and dreams with us and thanks, Katie (and the QWC), for bringing her to our little sugar town. Finally: Happy Birthday QWC!
For more information about Nina and her books, go troll her website or stalk her on Twitter. I’m very inspired now to check out her books and the other hiddens gems lurking in Momentum’s spec fic collection.