For my dance books and websites, the greatest joy is the ability to help others. I spend a fair bit of time on dance and writing forums, too, because I've received so much generous support from other dancers and writers myself - I think it's only fair to "pay it forward".
For my fiction work, it's the ability to transport myself to other places and other personalities. For me, it's very much like acting. I never sit down and analyse characters, plotting their strengths and weaknesses and motivations as some authors do. Instead, I become the character I'm writing about, and it's my own feelings while I'm "in character" that tell me what that person will do next, or how they'll react.
Describe your desk
I have an old steam-driven desktop perched on a picnic table! The nicest part of my desk is where it sits - looking out over my white picket fence to the tree outside my window, which attracts kookaburras, doves, honeyeaters and parrots with its shade and nectar.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Scotland. I'd say it had very little influence on my writing, because I didn't see much of it - I was an invalid for most of my childhood, stuck indoors. My life really blossomed when I reached adulthood, recovered from my illness and was finally able to start dancing (instead of just dreaming about it).
My childhood was important for my writing, in that I learned how to write then. If I'd been fit and well, I'd have devoted every waking hour to dancing - but since I couldn't, writing and reading were the outlets for my imagination and creativity. Without that background, i would've had a much steeper learning curve when I started writing again in my "third age".
When did you start writing?
I wrote my first novel at fourteen or fifteen - I even sent it off to a publisher. I could klck myself now, because when it got rejected, I threw the manuscript away. Today, I understand that the rejection letter wasn't such an awful thing: it contained constructive criticism and helpful advice, something publishers don't bother to do unless they feel the book has some potential. Who knows, maybe I threw away a potential masterpiece!
What are you working on next?
I'm working on a ballet book. My novel is still waiting in the wings but it's likely to be there for a fair bit longer. I threw out 30,000 words which I wasn't happy with, and it's a daunting task to replace them now!
Who are your favorite authors?
I'm not a Fantasy fan but I adore Terry Pratchett - his books are a send-up of the fantasy genre, full of humour but more importantly, full of the most glorious use of words. It was very sad to learn that he's now suffering a form of Alzheimer's and, although he's still publishing books, I notice a marked difference in his later novels. I heartily recommend his early work to anyone, especially aspiring authors.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Dancing, dancing and dancing! I dance for fun these days - belly dancing for myself, and ballroom/Latin dance socially with my husband.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, it was the story of Nadina, the Good Sea Witch, and her cat Pyewacket. It was written when i was nine for my little sister, who was five, and was laboriously illustrated. I remember using a great quantity of blue and green crayons (for Nadina's flowing robes).
What was it like being a professional dancer?
Like most dancers, I was never truly a professional - because I could never afford to dance full-time. There simply wasn't enough work to make a living from. So I've always had to have a “day job”. At my peak, I was able to cut down to a part-time office job, leaving all my afternoons and evenings free for dancing.
How many years did you dance?
I'm still dancing! These days I've moved on to belly dance, which is very gentle on the body so it's ideal for a 60-year-old woman like me. I also dance socially with my husband.
I have more than 40 years' study and experience of ballet, jazz, flamenco and belly dance under my belt so far. I fully intend to be dancing when I'm 70!
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Smashwords has been surprisingly effective for me - I don't actively market, and most of my sales seem to come from recommendations. Of course one advantage of my book topic, is that every time a dance teacher recommends it to her students, I get several sales all at once!
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.