Thanks for agreeing to answer some questions about your writing life, Sis. How long have you been writing?
When I was a child, my sisters and I would write short skits to perform at our annual Christmas show at home, when my uncle and aunt visited from Sydney.
Then at high school, I wrote essays, poems and stories for the school magazine but it was when I turned fifty that I actually gave myself permission to be a writer.
When and where did you get your first acceptance?
My first acceptance was a story in Australia’s Woman’s Day magazine. Fiction editor, Julie Redlich had a policy of encouraging and fostering new writers, for which I am very grateful. This was in 2001.
Did you ever imagine you would sell so many short stories, especially last year when you sold how many?
Every year I’ve simply aimed to do better than the previous year. This has meant finding new markets, learning how to adapt stories for overseas magazines, and learning to take rejections on the chin (Still working on that one). Last year I was lucky enough to sell 57 stories. I believe there’s always an element of luck involved – quite a few of these had previously been rejected.
And you write articles for Writers’ Forum. How did that come about and would you say you had a USP?
I was fortunate to have Jean Currie as my mentor in the early days. She suggested I send a piece to Writers’ Forum when Carl Styants took over as editor. He accepted it half an hour after it hit his inbox. Before I could sit on my laurels, Jean said, ‘What are you going to send him next?’ Now I’m still always thinking of what to send him next.
Being an Australian writer gives me an opportunity to provide local market info not easily obtained in the UK.
What about steam trains? I’ve seen an article of yours in a steam magazine. It seems a bit of a leap from womag to steam. How did that happen?
Flying Scotsman was brought to Australia by ship for our Bicentennial celebrations in 1988. Like many Australians, I loved watching it steaming through our local railway tunnels. Then by chance, years later, I met the English driver, who now lives in Brisbane. I knew immediately that his anecdotes about those months in Australia needed to be written down. It was fascinating stuff. And he’s a photographer, so there was no shortage of illustrations. It took me two years to find a home for my article. I started with the women’s magazines, but of course, the story I wanted to tell was a man’s story. It found a home in Steam Railway. My challenge for 2013 is to work out how to turn this piece into an ebook. There’ll be lots of extra photos and new material – and a steep learning curve for me.
Would you like to come to the UK and visit some writing friends here?
Is that really a question? There are few things I’d enjoy more. It’d need to be in your summer, of course – and I’d love to go to Writers' Holiday at Caerleon.