I penned my first story at the age of eight, for a competition run by a toothpaste company. The short fantasy tale had fairies scrubbing a dull moon with toothpaste until it was shining brightly again. My brother wrote a mechanically slanted story about cleaning the teeth on gears. The promoters preferred stories about ‘teeth’. I always enjoyed writing, excelled in essays at school and in my teens dabbled in poetry. I am not certain at what stage of my life I decided I wanted to become a writer. I do know that, when I first started to write, I knew absolutely nothing about the craft of writing. Like many women I thought I would write for Mills and Boon. I typed with one finger, on foolscap paper, without margins, with mistakes covered by whiteout and corrected in biro. I shudder now at the memory of such unprofessionalism. Quite astonishingly the editor did read my messy offering. The feedback I received was pertinent to the story.
Following publication of A BALLET LESSON, my next success came with the acceptance of a very brief article for AUSTRALASIAN POST. I remember jumping for joy in my kitchen, acceptance letter in hand. I was published! Not long afterwards, 4X4 AUSTRALIA accepted and published my feature article on the newly established Lawn Hill National Park. For several years I wrote, and produced photographs, for various travel, camping and general interest magazines. These included a regular column, What’s Cooking in GO CAMPING MAGAZINE. Research for an historical magazine feature culminated in the publication in 1994 of THE FINAL DREAMING my first fact/fiction novel. An extract, Burketown Tragedy, was awarded Highly Commended in the 1993 Suncorp Literary Awards for an historical story. From my extensive travels throughout Australia and interest in Australian history it was a natural progression to writing historical novels set in Australia. During my writing ‘apprenticeship’ years, I experimented in various genre before discovering my true ‘voice’ was an historical one.
It is interesting to note that the editor who assessed my messy M&B offering, suggested I write historical stories. At that stage I both doubted my capabilities and shied away from the research needed for such stories. Had I followed the editor’s advice I might have been published many years earlier. Perhaps she had recognized an historical voice in my contemporary story.