You're probably fed up with hearing about me and my
television appearance, and big win, on Deal or No Deal so I won't mention it
(even though it was six years ago last Tuesday). Instead I'll tell you that
DOUGLAS McPHERSON IS ON TV TONIGHT.
Viewers in the East of England will be able to see
Douglas, Writer's Forum columnist, on TV this evening (Monday 26, November)
talking about the past and future of animals in the circus.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the first paragraph of a short story, or on the first
page of a novel you have a hook which draws readers in. It keeps them reading.
I tried the same technique on my blog by referring to Cedric. And, as you all
wanted to know who he is I'll tell you.
When my brother, Phil, was six years old he bought Cedric
from a jumble sale. (My brother is now approaching sixty.) I don't know what he
paid but he sold Cedric to me for sixpence (old money) and Phil never did
anything, even at that tender age, without making a profit.
Cedric was an ornament for many years but one day, after I'd
read a book about decluttering and set aboutdoing some, I realised that Cedric was neither beautiful nor useful and,
according to the rules, would have to go. I took another look at him, his
slender neck, his poor broken beak. I thought of the many years we'd spent
together and decided to keep him. All I needed to do was find him a job and
he'd become useful . Guess what he became really good at?
I've been having a look around to see if I could find
something to amuse you and I came up with this.
I bought this golden slipper from a junk/antique shop. 'What
do you want that for?' asked the LSO. I didn't really know at the time but now
it's proving useful as a pen holder on my desk.
And what are these? A couple of useful tools. The green
pointing finger is a pen and it lights up in the dark so no more scrawling
notes in the pitch blackness. And no, that's not a feather. It's a keyboard
And those of you with sharp sight will note that in the
background is a pebble. It was given to me by my good friend, Sue Johnson, and
on it, in gold, it says Magic Happens.
Perhaps I'll show you Cedric soon. I've had him a very long
time and he's very useful.
If the names Carrie Underwood,
Taylor Swift and Brad Paisley mean anything to you, you’ll know that tonight
(November 1) is country music’s biggest night, the occasion of the 46th annual
CMA Awards, which are Nashville’s equivalent of the Oscars. It’s also the night
Julia Douglas has chosen to launch her new ebook, Nashville Cinderella, so I
thought I’d pull on my line dancing boots, say howdy and ask her a few
questions. So, Julia, what’s Nashville
Cinderella all about?
“Well, it’s a Cinderella story
set in Nashville! Cindy is a singing waitress working in a retro-themed diner
in the heart of Music City while dreaming of finding love and fame as a country
star. The short order cook is her Buttons figure and Prince Charming is her
vintage suit-wearing, 1957 Chevrolet-driving manager Hank. But can he get her
to the ball, or in this case the CMA Awards?”
Why did you choose Nashville as a
“I’ve always been fascinated by
the fact that absolutely everyone in Nashville is trying to be a singer or
songwriter while holding down jobs as secretaries and waitresses. As one of the
characters says in the book, if you want to meet a great singer in Nashville,
just shout, ‘Waiter!’ They all know and support each other, so I wanted to
write about a group of friends in that situation, their efforts to make the big
time - and all their romantic ups and downs, of course!”
Have you met many country stars
in real life?
“The most memorable would have to
be Dolly Parton, who was exactly as you’d expect her to be. I’ve heard from
other singers that she never stops being Dolly. Even at rehearsals and
recording sessions she’s always in full wig and rhinestones. As a bit of fun
for country fans, I actually wrote a walk-on part for Dolly in Nashville
Cinderella, and there are a few other real life country stars in there that the
fans should have fun spotting.”
Where can readers buy Nashville
“It’s available to download from
all the major digital platforms such as Amazon and iBookstore, so if you’re
annoyed that the BBC don’t broadcast the CMA awards in the UK, you can console
yourself by downloading a little bit of Nashville life instead!”
Why invisible granddaughter? Because I have not yet met my 18 year old granddaughter. This is not a suitable place to go into details but now she is old enough we are in contact. And this blog is for her so that she can join us in our adventures.
Why Sid? That's the name of the motorhome. It's an Elddis which is Siddle spelled backwards hence Sid for short.
Friends complain that their address books are filled with my addresses. I like moving house. Ten years ago I found the perfect solution for this need to be in new places. The Long Suffering One and I bought a motorhome with some of my winnings from being on Deal Or No Deal. Four years later we sold it but we now have another one and are on the move again. In a house I'll wake each morning and ask the LSO, 'What day is it?' Now I can ask, 'What day is it?' And 'Where are we?'