Welcome once again to Writers on Wednesday. This week I am chatting with prolific Australian author Sally Odgers. Sally has been writing for a long time--in fact, I can remember borrowing her book Amy Amaryllis from my local library when I was in my upper years at primary school. (I think I may have owned a couple of the Blinky Bill adaptions as well.) Anyway, welcome Sally ...
Tell me a bit about yourself …
I was born in Tasmania and still live in the same road. I grew up on a dairy farm with one elder sister, and a lot of animals. My sister and I used to share books and pets and played a game called “quotations” in which one of us came up with a quote from one of the books we’d both read and the other had to identify it. We did this while walking, rowing, riding and feeding or grooming animals. My first story was published in 1970, and my first book in 1977. Since then, just two years have passed without a new book coming out. As well as writing, I run a small manuscript assessment and editing service called Affordable Manuscript Assessments, a tiny publishing collective called Prints Charming Books, an artist-promotion blog called Promote Me Please, and a speakers’ listing called Tassie Book Talks. My husband and I have a lot of Jack Russells, which inspired us to write three series narrated by dogs. We have two children and two grandchildren.
Tell us about your most recently published book?
Three books are available this quarter. Two are books one (Farm Rescue) and two (Bush Rescue) in the Pup Patrol series I co-write with my husband. The other is Heather and Heath, a long historical novel coming from Satalyte.
Tell us about the first time you were published?
My first story came out in the NSW School Magazine when I was twelve or so. After selling more stories to that market, I wrote a farm adventure and two fantasies called The Kamarand and The Kamarand 2. I subbed The Kamarand to a publisher and the editor rejected it, but suggested I should put together a collection of short stories. This I did when I was fifteen/sixteen. The book was published in 1977.
As writer, what has been your proudest achievement so far?
Surviving, I think! My writing career has spanned six decades which isn’t too bad for a person who is still in her fifties. (It’s a strange feature of maths that this is possible.)
What books or writing projects are you currently working on, if anything?
I’m working on Book #4 of the Pup Patrol series and also a little project called The Fairies of Farholt. I have several other WsiP.
Which do you prefer? eBooks or Paper Books? Why?
Paper books. I find it disturbing that eBooks are so cheap. It’s as if we’re implying the paper of a book is worth hundreds of percent more than the actual story. I also prefer not to read on screen, because I do that for hours and hours a day for work. In fact, my preference is for audio books, because I can read those while walking, gardening or cooking.
Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?
Both. I am an enthusiastic supporter of both forms of publishing. Indie is more difficult to make a living from, but indie gives us some glorious books that might not have the mass-market appeal trad publishers need. I’ve read some darned good self-published books too in recent times. Self-publishers often hire me to assess and edit their work so I have a ringside seat to see what’s out there.
Aside from your own books, of course, what is one book that you feel everybody should read?
The Perilous Gard, by Elizabeth Marie Pope.
Finally … is there anything you would like to say to your readers in Adelaide, Australia?
Several things! Don’t lend, recommend. Don’t read a book just because you think you should. Have confidence in your own opinion. Read books you love. If you enjoyed a book, why not let the author and/or publisher know? If you write to an author, please don’t just say, “I love your book(s).” Tell us what you loved, specifically, and why. Finally, if you are an author, aspiring, novice, seasoned, mainstream, midlist or whatever else, improve your own chances by buying new recently-and-locally-published books in your own genre. If possible, buy them from your local book shop. Our local industry depends on sales.
Any of these will find me.