Welcome back to Writers on Wednesday. This week I'm chatting with the very awesome Hettie Ashwin, who lives on a boat in northern Queensland and is author of seven novels, including suspense novel The Mask of Deceit...
Tell us a bit about yourself …
I have downsized my tupperware and live on a boat in Far North Queensland. Our yacht "Dikera" has been my home for 8 years as we (husband and I) sail around the Queensland coast. We are planning on doing the world trip thing starting next year via Indonesia. As we sail, I write. I have always been a stationary tragic (read, pens, paper, fancy envelopes etc) and began writing in earnest 11 years ago. Besides novels, I write for boating magazines, short story mags online and in print. I also like the medium of radio and have written several audio pieces which have been broadcast.
Tell us about your most recently published book?
This is Mr Tripp buys a Lifestyle. It is a novel which incorporates the mishaps of our sailing adventures and other embarrassing stories people have told us in our travels. It is full of humour and LOL moments. I have had a really good response from people who have purchased the book who say it is a fun read. It is loosely styled on an old movie called "Mr Blandings builds his dream house" a particular favourite of mine. They say write what you know and I sure know about embarrassing moments on the boat.
Tell us about the first time you were published?
I had a funny piece published in a work newsletter at a private hospital I was working for in Townsville. It was about how to negotiate the tea room idle gossip and was a hit with the readers. Now I write a humour column for the local newspaper--Port Douglas and Mossman Gazzette--called Slippery Grip. 'slippery grip is for fun and for those whose grip is slipping'.
As writer, what has been your proudest achievement so far?
That is easy. Getting 7 novels out there for people to buy and read and enjoy. I am an entertainer and to see readers actively enjoying my work is so satisfying. I have won competitions etc, but having a body of work is great. To see them being bought, downloaded and read is what it is all about for me.
What books or writing projects are you currently working on, if anything?
I am working on a Rom Com. 'Romantic Comedy' called Barney's Test. Romance is a new field for me, but humour is my forte. I love trying to get all the elements of a good story coming together with the payoff of the joke. My humour is very much slice of life, Doh moments. I study people and their foibles and work that into a plot.
Synopsis: When Barney Vokes comes up to bat in the game of love he finds that there are a few googlies coming his way. Two women, a bit of miscommunication and a chance to play with the Australian Cricket team in a charity match all have Barney on the hop. When Barney wins a competition to play a charity match, he finds he really has talent. His love life blooms as his notoriety skyrockets, but there are a few lessons to learn along the way. Humility, hubris and hand/eye co-ordination all play a part in being the man of the match. What he thinks he wants, what he really wants and what he eventually gets sees Barney, the hopeless romantic, discover that love is a bit more complicated than cricket.
It is half way complete at this stage with all the chapters plotted. The writing or filling in the gaps, is the fun part. I am also working/researching a literary novel "A Slow Catastrophe" about a bushfire and a missing child in 1910 Murray Bridge. This is a novel about how one event can have far reaching consequences and bruise a life, a town, forever.
Which do you prefer? eBooks or Paper Books? Why?
I use both so I don't really have a preference. If the book is a tome of 600 pages then an e book is great cause you don't get sore wrists in bed to hold the thing up. But living on a boat having something without batteries that doesn't need charging is a bonus. We have solar and wind power, but sometimes on a windless, cloudy day a real book is the only way to go. I won 37 new books from a competition recently and so I have reading matter for a while yet. I also keep track of specials on the IBook etc and download when they are cheap. The best of both worlds I reckon.
Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?
I have both and really there is no difference. I still am required to promote my work, make sure the proof is good to go and give input for the cover. In fact I did all my covers except one. Having self published 4 of my titles the money from the sales is good as you don't share the proceeds with a publisher, book shop etc, but having said that, sometimes the public like to know a publishing house thought enough of your work to back it. Barney's choice will go though the query process, but now I only give it about 50 shots before I just do it myself and get it out there to sell. I figure there is still time for it to get picked up when it is on the hustings. It happens!
Aside from your own books, of course, what is one book that you feel everybody should read?
Life is so Good by George Dawson. What a man. He learned to read and write in his 90's. His was a story of discovery and gladdens the heart to know there are people in the world like that. Such a nice man. We all could learn from his tolerance and understanding and goodness. I sound gushy, but I have bought this book for many people and they all say the same. Worth a read.
Finally … is there anything you would like to say to your readers in Adelaide, Australia?
As I sell my books in the markets and meet my readers every week, I know there are people out there who like a good book and love to read. Whether it is mine or someone else's, the act of reading is the thing that carries us forward. Read a book, any book and discover something, enjoy the moment, share the story and marvel at imagination.