PODCAST SHOW NOTES
Could this be our biggest episode yet? Join hosts Veronica and Darren for podcast 67 featuring a Reader's Cafe with special guest Belinda Grant who shares a book review with us, an incredible interview with author Miranda Luby, a laughter fuelled visit to the Writer's Lounge with special guests Reb Langham and Kevin Klehr from Twitter's #AusWrites, industry news, chats about a missing prime minister, the dangers of fake news, the complexities of traversing new digital realms and of course a quote or two! It's time to get comfortable...
Intro - 00:00
News - 16.15
Reader's Cafe - 23.22
Author Interview -40.00
Interview Discussion - 1:32.30
Writer's Lounge - 1.50.35
Episode Wrap Up - 2:43.50
What inspired you to write this book?
Sadie Starr’s Guide to Starting Over is about the downsides of black and white thinking, both personally and in our culture. For many years I have struggled with the problematic manifestations of this type of thinking, like perfectionism, procrastination, burn out and disordered eating. This is the same type of thinking that’s at play when we tell ourselves ‘I’ll eat healthy from Monday’ or ‘I’ll write 1000 words a day, every day, starting tomorrow’. The feeling that we can ‘start over’ and become a better version of ourselves from then on – but as soon as we screw up, we give up.
While I was working through these challenges personally, I noticed the same black and white thought patten causing problems in our cultural discourse - particularly in activism spaces. There was less and less nuance in our conversations. You’re either with us, or against us. Good or bad. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. And anyone who dares to challenge this is often judged harshly. But aren’t things often more complicated than that? I wanted to write a book in which both the personal and the cultural manifestations of this all-or-nothing type of thinking collided, so young people could see the dangers it poses and look to find a more complex and healthy way of viewing ourselves, others and the world.
Are there any secrets hidden in your writing?
In an act of pure nepotism, I managed to sneak my brother, Hayden James, into the book. He’s a musician and one of his songs is playing at a party Sadie attends. Happily, he is very popular with teenagers, so this is realistic as well as very cheeky. Jokes aside though, Hayden is one of my biggest creative inspirations and the person I think of whenever I’ve wanted to give up on writing. Having him represented in the book in this way is really special to me and a nod to how much he inspires me.
Is there a message in your book?
Life often happens in the grey areas. On the border between potential happiness and potential heartbreak. In between everything falling apart and everything working out perfectly. If we don’t enjoy the messiness of life, we aren’t really living.
Who is your most or least favourite character to write?
I really enjoyed writing Alexa, Sadie’s new best friend. Alexa is a passionate feminist and has started a pink-badge-wearing girl gang at the school in order to ‘support women’. With good intentions, she and the gang call out (‘and ‘cancel’) a male student for stalking a female student. The only problem is, he didn’t really do it. But Alexa’s righteousness blinds her to this truth. It was interesting to write a character who, in a very human way, is trying her best but getting things wrong. She’s not good, she’s not bad, she’s just a complicated, nuanced person.
What’s the best response you’ve ever had to your writing?
For this book in particular, I’ve had a lot of people tell me that they have experience with disordered eating (particularly binge eating, which Sadie struggles with in the story) and that it is a relief to see themselves on the page and feel like they’re not alone. I think this is one of the best things I could hope to do with my writing: help someone feel seen.
What book are you reading at the moment?
There are some brilliant new Aussie YA books out at the moment, including Lauren Draper’s The Museum of Broken Things, Kate Emery’s The Not So Chosen One and Holden Sheppard’s The Brink.
What’s your writing routine – if you have one?
I beat self-doubt to the desk by writing first thing in the morning. The earlier the better for me. Writing in a half-dream state allows me to be my most creative and least self-critical.
What’s the most useful writing advice you’ve been given?
Try to figure out what type of writing you’re really good at and do that. It might not be what you want it to be, or what you love to read, but that’s okay. My fortes are a strong voice and fast pacing—great for YA. I will probably never write a literary fiction masterpiece.