I know I promised that Sunday Story would be returning and I promise there is a Who fan fiction waiting in the wings but today I have the first of two special guests for this week.
This one is very special as Maureen and I share a passion for the mad man in a blue box and that was how we first got to know each other so please welcome my friend Maureen……
Her new book of poetry My Heart’s Choir Sings has just been released and I was lucky enough that she allow me to prod her with a sonic probe and find out a little more about her and her writing, I hope you will enjoy her answers as much as I did
Tell us a little about you and why you decided to write poetry.
I actually started off writing speculative fiction. I have one manuscript being assessed at the moment. It has been work-shopped before with Kate Forsyth but it needs loads of work. That’s first novels for you! I am also working on a second novel in a different world which is only at 10 000 words. It had to take a back-seat for this poetry release. I also write short stories and want to start marketing them this year. My New Year’s Resolution was that this year I took my writing to the next level.
I first started to write poetry in high school to deal with teen angst. There was the usual stuff teens get angsty about but I also used poetry to express my feelings about being a carer. My brother has autism and my mother been ill for a number of years. Those first few notebooks of poems are truly, truly awful but they did help me when I felt down and everyone has to start somewhere! At university, I joined a writers group and got into poetry that way. I also read the verse novels of Dorothy Porter, a truly wonderful Australian poet, whose free verse is edgy, full of emotion and meaning. Ever since then I’ve been addicted to the idea of telling a story in verse.
I like poetry because word choice is so important. Nothing can be wasted. I love painting images with words and capturing people’s hearts and toying with emotions. I think there is something so passionate and heartfelt about good free verse.
There are many who would say poetry is a dying art. What’s your opinion on that?
Who says that? Maybe I hang out with the wrong crowds. I don’t think poetry will ever die. I do think that its form or presentation may change. For example, many singers write songs that are poetry. For a contemporary example look no further than Amanda Palmer and her Theatre is Evil album. I don’t care what anyone says, songs like Trout Heart Replica and Berlin are poems as well as songs. Songs aren’t going out of fashion any time soon.
Verse novels are huge at the moment, especially young adult verse novels. For example, Ellen Hopkins is famous for them, as is Lisa Ann Sandell. Author, Gabrielle Prendergast, runs Verse novels.com, a website dedicated to the popular form. You only have to read a few posts to see how many names are out there!
Do you believe that you can make a living as a poet in this day and age, without using poetic talents for songwriting?
Well, you’d certainly be richer writing songs! I don’t know. The reality is MOST writers never earn enough to give up their day job altogether, and that’s regardless of creative form. I think the average income for an Australian author per year is $20 000 which is very low when you consider that this is an average. As an indie poet, it’s even worse as all of the marketing and promoting has to come from you.
I’d argue that poetry is a niche market. If you find your audience, then you can do reasonably well but that doesn’t mean you’ll be a millionaire any time soon.
Can you tell us a little about the concept behind your book?
Well, as I said previously, I have loved verse novels since I read Dorothy Porter’s crime verse novel, The Monkey’s Mask, in first year university. I have always wanted to write one. Embarrassing story: I have a simply terrible skeleton of a Sydney murder mystery verse novel on my USB which is a shameless rip of Dorothy Porter. It will never see the light of day but it helped me to get better at word choice and poetry.
My Heart’s Choir Sings came about because I wanted to write about London. I’ve been on exchange to the UK twice and I love it. If I could, I would spend half my year there. Anyway, I was stuck in London in December 2010 during that awful snow storm and temperature drop that saw masses of flights cancelled. I’d never really seen snow before and even though I hated the cold, I liked the effect.
I really like writing about relationships using poetry. I think it’s a very visceral way of writing about them. I am also a History Honours Graduate and love messing around with concepts of memory, gender relations and ways the past, present and future can intertwine. I started off writing a poem called Blue, which was very popular on my blog. It was from the perspective of the male in the relationship, remembering his dead partner. Don’t ask me why I ended up writing from a male perspective. I am a feminist and this sequence discusses gender issues so maybe I just wanted to try something new! It went on from there. Image after image came to me and before I knew it I had a little story happening.
My Heart’s Choir Sings is set in London and is told from the perspective of Stuart Hinchcliffe, a creative who loses his fellow creative and partner in tragic circumstances. As he goes through their old flat, each object or item reminds Stuart of a new aspect of their relationship. Where did everything go wrong? Was it all the fault of the mysterious dead woman, or is Stuart and society to blame? The 25 poem sequence acts as a eulogy and as a process of healing for Stuart. It took me two years to write, edit and publish and it is very dear to my heart. I really hope people love it!
What is next for you creatively?
Where to start? Late last year, I started working on a verse novel detailing the story of Merlin of King Arthur fame. I’ve always had an obsession with ‘the historical Arthur’ and I’ve done quite a lot of research into the area. I’ve written about 30 poems for that verse novel and Merlin is just about to prophecy for Vortigan. Given that My Heart’s Choir Sings took me two years to get on the web, I doubt that this novel will be finished before another two years is up.
I am also working on a young adult fantasy manuscript. I really love the idea so hopefully it’s one that I can sell to agents and/or publishers down the track. When I’ve done the rewrite for this manuscript, I have to rework that beast of a first novel. It’s not a total write off yet.
I have a number of speculative fiction short stories in various stages of development and I want to market those to magazines such as Aurealis this year.
As you can see, I like to be busy. I always have a thousand ideas. The trouble is having the time to work on a project. I always want my work to be professional and that’s why it takes me so long to do anything with a project.
I will be working with an author this year on a writing mentorship, so hopefully that will teach me some great new skills!
People here will not know that we met through a Doctor Who fan page, but are you excited about Capaldi taking over the role and would you ever consider writing Who?
This is actually such a tough question. I LOVED Eleven. I knew Matt before he was cast in the role from a television movie called The Ruby in the Smoke. I kid you not, my brother and I both stated that he was Doctor material before he was even speculated to be up for Eleven.
Matt had such a way of being young and old, mad and serious, rage filled and gentle, a wizard, a good man and a fairy story all at once. His era isn’t perfect but he is definitely MY Doctor.
However, I love Capaldi’s fierce eyes from Day of the Doctor and though what we saw of him in Time of the Doctor was brief, he looks to be a refreshing TARDIS change. I always give new Doctor’s a season’s chance.
YES YES YES I would write Doctor Who. Somebody page Stephan Moffat. There has been very few female script writers on New Who. What I love about Doctor Who is that you can write practically anything in time, space and genre. There is no such thing as canon Doctor Who. I have never written a script before, but writing a Who script is one of my secret author goals, so never fear, one day it may well happen! Maybe a tie in book is more achievable…