Third time has definitely proven to be the charm as we slowly find our feet and start to put together a bit of a format!
In this episode we bring publishing and website news, chat a little about creative non fiction and the multitude of rabbit holes when it comes to research, and we're blessed to interview Dale Lorna Jacobsen – author of Being Lucy, Yenohan's Legacy, Union Jack and Antarctic Engineer. Not only that, but Dale was kind enough to give an author's reading from one of her books!
What Country do you write on?
My Country is also Kabi Kabi country. It is on the beautiful Blackall Range in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.
When did you first admit that you were a writer?
When I was eight, I covered an exercise book in brown paper, decorated the cover with pastels, then, in my best cursive writing, wrote my first story. I knew then that I wanted to be a writer. However, it took until my children had all grown and I moved to the country for me to finally admit that I wanted to do nothing else but write. That was 20 years ago.
What was your favourite book as a child?
Anything by Enid Blyton, of course! She fed my adventurous spirit.
What inspired you to write/this book/these books?
My books all have one thing in common: they are uniquely Australian; could not be set anywhere else. Each book grew from inspiring stories of larger-than-life characters, but the land on which the stories take place plays just as important a part in the telling.
Do you write for yourself or for a particular audience?
I write so people can learn something of Australia’s grass-roots history in an interesting non-didactive way.
Are there any secrets hidden in your writing?
Yes, there is always a secret message within my writing. I am an environmental scientist, but don’t believe in belting people over the head with messages, so I let my protagonists tell their stories and give the reader the space to make an informed decision.
Why do you think listeners should read your book/s?
I think, above all, my books contain a good yarn.
Are there any passages you’d like to read on air to give listeners a sample of your writing?
Absolutely. I think reading a passage from Being Lucy would be a good start.
Is there a message in your book/books/writing?
That the Australian countryside is a bloody beautiful place, worth preserving.
Who is your most or least favourite character to write?
My favourite character is definitely Lucy Strobridge. An amazingly strong-willed woman. I feel honoured to have been able to write about her.
What’s the best response you’ve ever had to your writing?
Had lots of good feedback, but the one that stands out is after writing my first book, Union Jack. The Secretary of the RTBU ordered 40 copies – one for each union organiser – so they could know some of the history of their union’s beginnings. I was then asked to be the keynote speaker at their 100th anniversary dinner.
What genre/s do you write in?
Mostly creative non-fiction and non-fiction.
What genre/s do you mostly read?
Anything, so long as it is well written. I have little tolerance for shoddy writing/editing.
What book are you reading at the moment?
The Longest Winter – a book about Robert Falcon Scott’s Northern Party, forgotten heroes. Riveting stuff.
What was the last book you read?
Kate Grenville’s Sarah Thornhill. Really enjoyed it.
As a writer, are you a plotter or a pantser or somewhere in between?
Definitely a plotter. I have spreadsheets, chronologies, etc. I need the skeleton before I can begin.
How much research is involved in your writing?
Years! It is not unusual to spend 5 years researching before I begin writing. I like to get the facts right.
What’s your writing routine – if you have one?
I find I write best from around 3pm to 5.30pm. I can often get down 1000 words then, and it rarely needs rewriting. The rest of the time is devoted to research and admin: social media, website etc.
Where do you write?
I write in the most beautiful of places. I live on acreage in the bush, and a friend built me a little shed with verandahs where I can get right away from everyone and everything. It overlooks the national park that borders our property. I am one very lucky woman.
What’s your favourite writing food and drink?
Nothing. Just water.
Who helped you most when you were starting out?
A dear friend, Rodney Hall, himself a fantastic writer.
What’s the most useful writing advice you’ve been given?
At a workshop with Rodney, he gave us an invaluable tool. A 20-sentence structure that develops a storyline. It is my bible, and I often turn to it when I am stuck. I also introduce fellow writers to this process when I conduct writing workshops.
What’s your writing goal for the next twelve months?
I am writing two non-fiction works at the moment: one local to my area; the other an Antarctic history.
What inspired your book cover/s?
To have both books nearly ready for printing. It will be a huge challenge.
Who would you most like to read your book as an audiobook?
I have recorded Yenohan’s Legacy and Being Lucy myself as audio books. I love to read out loud, and think I do a fair fist of it. I do think, if the author is capable, they make the best narrator.
What words of advice would you give an aspiring author?
Just write. Get it down. First draft is always the hardest, and no-one needs to read it but yourself. You can fix it later.
Any final words for potential readers or writers?
Life is too short to read bad writing. Do not feel obliged to plod on. Open another book. And for writers? really, I feel there are too many memoirs/life stories that are not really that interesting.
SHOW LINKS AND RESOURCES
Twitter - @Dale_L_J
If you would like to explore the wonders of Trove and step back in time with the magic of digitised Australian newspapers, visit https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/