Sometimes life can get in the way of writing, but don’t let writing get in the way of life.
NLK: Were you always a writer? How did you get started?
RW: I’ve always been a writer in one form or another. I started a magazine with gossip about my classmates in grade 5, but the teacher said the material was too scandalous and it had to be pulped. But fiction has always been my favourite form. I studied Professional Writing and Editing at university and worked in educational publishing for a couple of years. I started writing my first real novel in my early twenties. Twelve years later, it’s just about to be published in paperback by Leafless, it’s called Searching for Von Honningsbergs, about the dodgy world of fine art: http://www.leafless.pub/
NLK: You have a big following on Wattpad. Why do you use Wattpad as an author platform?
RW: Alain de Botton said “The process of publishing a book is like telling a joke, then having to wait for 2 years to find out whether it was funny or not.” This isn’t the case with Wattpad; you can find out instantly whether an audience is going to give your story a thumbs up or a thumbs down. It can be like writing with a bunch of cheerleaders waving pom poms in support or like writing with stormtroopers ready to shoot it down. In either case, it gives you a realistic taste of how your story is going to connect with an audience. For me Wattpad has been a fount of encouragement, especially with a young adult audience – which has inspired me to keep on writing for these readers.
NLK: How important is social media to you as an author? What advice would you give to other authors about social media?
RW: I have a love-hate relationship with social media. It feels like something I have to do. Sometimes it feels like something I like to do. Occasionally it feels like something I’d prefer to do than writing. It all depends. Sometimes I resent it. Sometimes I love it. It’s a complex relationship. I’m constantly breaking up with social media and then going back to it. My advice to other authors? Find a platform you like and enjoy the feeling while it lasts, share as much as you’re willing to share, be yourself, if it’s the right audience, like the right partner, they’ll bring out the best in you.
NLK: Your blog ‘Out of Print Writing’ has been selected for the National Library of Australia’s archive program PANDORA. What does that mean?
RW: About a year after I started my blog www.outofprintwriting.blogspot.com.au the National Library of Australia contacted me to see if I’d be happy for my blog to be archived. I felt really honoured that they discovered my blog and wanted to keep it as part of their digital collection. My blog is about writing and publishing in the digital revolution, so I’m pleased that they’ve seen the value in what I’ve been writing about over the years. Every year in August they take a copy of my blog for their archive. I like looking back at the archive and seeing the changes I’ve made to the design over the years, but I admit I have a few face palming moments over some of the posts I’ve written. But funnily enough, now that it’s being archived, I rarely delete any posts I’ve published, as I feel like it’s removing a piece of my own history! http://pandora.nla.gov.au/tep/135231
NLK: You work in the visual arts sector. Does art inspire you in your writing?
RW: Absolutely. Art definitely inspires my writing and I’m very lucky with my job that I’m constantly learning about new artists. Writing about art and artists has become a bad habit. I can’t seem to write a single story without a main character being an artist. I think I would’ve liked to be an artist, but I couldn’t draw hands. So instead, I write about paintings and sculptures and artists. Writing about hands is definitely easier than drawing hands.
NLK: I loved your book The Replacement Wife. What gave you the idea for the book?
RW: At the time, I was feeling stuck in my own marriage (I’m now going through a divorce), and I guess I wanted to explore if there’s ever a way to exit a marriage with everyone being happy. In The Replacement Wife, Luisa tries to find a wife for her husband and an acceptable step mother for her son so she can exit the relationship. She sets up single mothers with her husband and sits back to see if the relationship will sink or swim. http://outofprintwriting.blogspot.com.au/p/the-replacement-wife.html
NLK: What advice do you have for newbie writers?
RW: Sometimes life can get in the way of writing, but don’t let writing get in the way of life.
A short excerpt from chapter 5 of The Replacement Wife?
Despite Hattie’s lack of enthusiasm for my mission to find a wife for my husband, after I dropped Max off at school I put aside my work for an hour and created a detailed list of possibilities for his father.
Single mothers were the obvious first choice. I listed all the single mums I knew, then crossed out the bitter and twisted ones, the ones who looked sickly from losing too much weight after developing some kind of post-break-up eating disorder, the ones who seemed plain crazy or drearily miserable, the fat ones, the ones who had become too tough for their own good and the ones who had shits for kids. There were only two or three women left on my list.
Then I listed all the single women I knew. There was Carla from high school. She was always taking holidays for three months of the year, eating her way around Europe or Asia, snapping photos of her meals and posting them on social media, as though anyone cared. For some reason, I couldn’t quite stomach the idea of her and Luke getting together. Then there were Bridget and Maria. But it worried me that they’d never had kids — they would probably want to have a child with Luke. There would be a huge age gap between Max and the baby, and they’d probably neglect Max while the baby was crying, and he’d never get his homework done. In short, a late-marrying stepmother and a baby would surely ruin Max’s life. So, I decided that no single, childless woman could be on the list. The new woman absolutely had to be a mother already and not likely to have any more children.
I needed to meet some new single mums.
So I came up with a great idea — a tutor. Max was struggling with his maths, so a hot single-mum tutor could serve two brilliant purposes: help Max out with his maths and introduce a new woman into Luke’s life. And I could keep a good eye on things from the kitchen bench …
About Rowena Wiseman
Rowena Wiseman grew up in the south-east suburbs of Melbourne. Her education came mostly from Dolly magazine, a year spent as an exchange student in Latvia, J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and Pulp’s Common People. She writes contemporary fiction, young adult and children’s stories.
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