Author Interview #36, with multi-genre Australian writer (and animal lover), Kate Walker!
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Hi Kate! Please describe yourself in ~5 words:
Living Delights Me.
Great! Share a short excerpt and blurb of your work (10-100 words):
“He knew why he loved her and marvelled at the mystery, that without her he was just a man who filled a corner of a store, shifting ties and handkerchiefs, but with her he filled the whole world. Keeping a shelf tidy became a sacred duty, knowing that everything he did was either right or wrong, good or bad for his soul, damning or glorifying to his spirit. There were no meaningless actions any more, everything was significant and either exalted or bestialised him.”
— The Man Who Loved His Wife (a short story)
Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):
I remember…Akira breaking off from what we were doing, tip-toeing to the balcony and leaning right over the rail, so far I feared he might topple over. Then when he came hurrying back, I noticed the strange grin had appeared on his face. The maid, he reported in a whisper, had as expected fallen asleep.
‘Now we must go in! Are you frighten, Christopher? Are you frighten?’
Arika had suddenly become so tense that for a moment all my old fears concerning Ling Tien came flooding back. But by this point a retreat for either of us was out of the question…
— Once We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro
Comment on the writing versus publication process, in your experience:
WRITING is one of those occupations that oscillates between blissful ease and immeasurable toil.
You slip into the zone and the story writes itself. You’re taking down dictation and all you have to do is listen and be a faithful scribe. Words come, one after the other, in an order more exquisite than you could have conceived, and will remain in that order forever more.
Then next day the inaudible whisper is gone and you’re on your own. Words fall in clusters like rotten grapes or handfuls of flint, and you’re lucky if one in twenty will survive to serve your needs.
And then there’s the rewriting, interminable beyond belief. You rehash every sentence fifty times. And only when it reads like someone is again whispering the story into your ear do you know it’s ready and complete.
PUBLISHING, on the other hand, is like being a store keeper. Every job is clear cut. You actually know what you’re supposed to be doing, which is the opposite of writing. I’m talking about epublishing now. You know how the document needs to be formatted, and you can sit doing it late into the night and never flag. It’s just a checklist and when each job is done, it usually doesn’t need undoing…not like writing does.
Then you up-load. They ask the questions, you tick the boxes, press the right buttons, and that’s it — you’ve got a book out there. So little effort for such a grand achievement. It feels wonderful.
Of course, then you have to promote the book. That’s what takes the time out of your day and the skin off your knees. You get on-line and search the known universe for anyone at all who might conceivably give you a few pixels of space. It’s the total opposite of writing and how good is that? Just what every writer needs — a second job (still to do with writing) but nothing like it. Just more checklists and buttons to press. And for your trouble, there’s some pretty nice people out there in the known universe that you’re certain to stumble across.
WRITING vs PUBLISHING? Thumbs up to both.
What is your definition of “good writing”?
Good writing is a story that tells itself. It’s a book that turns its own pages. It’s a style the reader never notices, because it’s so at one with the story, the pain and labour that went into crafting it is totally invisible. There’s not a word that isn’t needed. And yet not a character that doesn’t move about before your very eyes, nor a setting that you don’t walk tangibly through.
For me, that makes a perfect book and I’ve read a few of them, such as: The Remains of the Day & Never Let Me Go by Ishiguro. Oscar and Lucinda & The Kelly Gang by Peter Carey.
Please share your #1 tip for writers:
Meditate first. It wakens the muse and gets her whispering.
I’ve one more question for Kate, since one of her books is a dragon novel for children ;) What do you find most captivating about Dragons?
Dragons are us. They’re that great mysterious beast that is ourselves, projected large. They represent everything we can be: all powerful; treacherous; avaricious for gold; thirsty for blood; gentle; eternally patient; guardians of good. They’re us on a god-like scale, where we can stand back and see ourselves and be awed.
Excellent — I couldn’t have said it better myself (I’ll add your quote to the contributors’ page on Dragonsinn!). Please let us know your websites/blogs/etc:
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Much thanks to Kate Walker for stopping by!
Kate writes all sorts of books (picture books, novels, deep and meaningful short stories, etc.). She hates doing the same thing twice and loves the excitement of totally new ventures.
Be sure to check out her website for more info on her award-winning books [including The Dragon Mith, first published in Australia in 1989 and awarded second prize in the Australian Children’s Book of the Year Awards (Younger Readers].