Welcome back to Writers on Wednesday. This week I am chatting with Adelaide author, Lynette Washington ...
Tell me a bit about yourself …
I’m a short story writer, teacher, editor, reviewer and mother.
Tell us about your most recently published book?
My latest book (as editor) is a short story collection called Breaking Beauty. It is a collection of 28 stories by 27 writers, all on the theme of beauty.
We asked the writers to write about beauty, but we didn’t expect that they would be so brutal with the idea! In the end, what I learnt was that beauty rarely exists without a dark side, a grubby underbelly.
The stories are so diverse and tackle the theme from so many different angles that it’s a real insight into the complexity of the idea of beauty – which I think is one of the (sometimes dangerous) obsessions of our time.
Tell us about the first time you were published?
I got started late in life. My first (significant) publication was the short story ‘The Swarm’ which was published in an anthology called Stoned Crows and Other Australian Icons edited by Julie Chevalier and Linda Godfrey and published by Spineless Wonders in 2013. It’s a gorgeous collection of prose poems and microfiction poking fun at the idea of established Australian identity and culture.
As writer, what has been your proudest achievement so far?
Actually, my proudest moment was showing my kids ‘The Swarm’ in Stoned Crows and writing a little inscription in a copy of it for each of them to keep. They are well and truly too young to read the story, but I wanted them to know that I’d done something important. That was the moment I said to myself ‘you are a real writer, your dreams have officially come true’.
Another moment came at the book launch for Breaking Beauty. My kids were there, of course, and they got to see Mum being something other than mum. For me it’s vital that my kids know I’m doing work that is important to me and that I’m working hard to achieve my goals.
Those moments of celebration – writing the inscription, taking them to the book launch – make those things real and show them the results of my hard work.
What books or writing projects are you currently working on, if anything?
At the moment I’m wearing far too many hats for my own good. I’m working on finishing my PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Adelaide, writing reviews for The Clothesline (a digital arts website, also based in Adelaide), and doing odd editorial jobs around the place.
My main focus, that I tell myself over and over, is getting my manuscript ready to send off to agents and publishers. It’s a collection of connected short stories and I’m really excited about it. I’ve worked on it for more than three years and it’s time to cut the apron strings and see if it survives in the real world!
Which do you prefer? eBooks or Paper Books? Why?
I’ve tried eBooks and without a doubt I absolutely prefer paper books. I sit in front of a screen all day, most days, and when I read fiction that isn’t for work purposes, I want it to be in paper form. It’s easier on the eyes, it’s nicer to hold, and I like knowing where I am in relation to the whole story just from how the book feels in my hands. I also love looking at a large shelf full of books, and lending much-loved books to friends.
Recently I’ve read a couple of beautiful books that have been created, in print, with a bespoke aesthetic in mind that have reminded me that paper books can be beautiful artefacts as well as devices to transmit story. Angela Meyer’s Captives and Michele de Krester’s A Ghost Story both have gorgeous illustrations peppered throughout that are touch-worthy artworks in their own right. eBooks have yet to achieve this.
Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?
I’m a fan of both.
I was published by a small, boutique publisher in South Australia, MidnightSun Publishing, and the experience was entirely wonderful. I developed a strong, personal relationship with my publisher. I was consulted every step of the way and given considerable freedom. I was encouraged to assist with all aspects of marketing and publicity (something I enjoy).
I feel like I learned an enormous amount about the industry, gained important contacts and was able to produce a book I was proud of and had a great investment in. It was a process I would repeat in a heartbeat.
Having said that, I know many writers who are achieving significant success and personal satisfaction publishing their own books independently and I salute them! The industry is big enough for both, and should accommodate both.
Aside from your own books, of course, what is one book that you feel everybody should read?
Wow, that is a tough question. Can I refer you to my blog, where I list a bunch of books that I love, along with the reasons I love them?
For those who can’t be bothered following a link…well…I’ve never been good at reducing anything to the ‘1 greatest thing’.
I will be annoyingly vague and say ‘the one book that speaks to you the loudest’. I’m not a believer in ‘the canon’ as such. I don’t think there is a single list of books that everyone should read. I’ve never read Moby Dick. I’ve only ever seen the movie of To Kill a Mockingbird. I don’t consider myself a lesser reader or writer because of these facts. There are just too many great books in the world. Everyone’s ‘canon’ should be different. It should include whatever you want it to!
Just read what speaks to you the loudest.
You can buy Breaking Beauty on the publisher’s website:
And at all good bookshops!
Lynette Washington – Author https://www.facebook.com/lynettewashingtonauthor