My latest author interview is with fellow Serenity Press author, Maureen Eppen. Maureen has a strong background in journalism. She is delightfully warm and friendly, and has interviewed some swoon-worthy authors. Read on to find out more…
NLK: Tell us about your book Every Family is Different?
ME: Every Family is Different is a celebration of the diversity to be found among families. It was inspired in part by growing up in a single-parent family, which represented a different dynamic to the families of many of my school friends, and in part by a desire to express tolerance and acceptance toward families of all kinds – whether children are being raised by grandparents, step-parents, foster carers, same-sex parents or within a traditional nuclear family.
NLK: What’s harder to write – journalistic pieces or fiction?
ME: For me, fiction is definitely more difficult to write. I’ve been writing journalism for so long that there’s a natural rhythm to it for me and I’m so comfortable writing for newspapers, magazines or digital media that my words flow smoothly and readily. Fiction, on the other hand, is an enormous challenge. Having spent 30-plus years primarily “telling” a story, the transition to “showing” as well as “telling” has been challenging. I’ve also had the expectation that my fiction writing should flow as readily and as logically as my journalism, but it does not!
NLK: What’s the best environment for you to write in? Do you have any rituals that help to get the words flowing?
ME: I don’t think I’ve found the best environment for writing fiction yet – but I’m still looking…
Having said that, I recently experienced some success handwriting in notebooks in coffee shops and later transferring my notes to my computer. I even found myself scribbling a few pages while my daughter and her boyfriend spent a couple of hours wearing themselves out at an indoor trampoline centre – despite the very real temptation to join them bouncing around.
NLK: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever had? Conversely, what’s the worst writing advice you’ve ever had?
ME: I am a devourer of writing guides and have quite a collection, and the best advice is found in almost every writing guide I own – and that is, quite simply, to sit down and write. Although I don’t follow that advice anywhere near as often as I should, the reality is that at some point in the process you must actually do the writing. I’ve plotted, planned, theorised and idealised about my first novel, but haven’t spent anywhere near enough time attempting to write the damn thing – or others I’ve been plotting and planning over the years. You know, I even typed the words “Just Write” in dozens of different fonts on an A4 page, printed it and framed it, but the power of procrastination still seems to overcome all the best advice I’ve read.
Perhaps the worst piece of writing advice I might receive would also be to “just write”, if those words were offered in a patronising tone!
NLK: What would you like to see more and less of in Australia’s literary scene?
ME: I would definitely like to see more Federal and State Government funding for writers and for writing-based activities, groups and organisations (and for the arts in general). It would also be very much appreciated if more philanthropists directed more funding toward these pursuits.
I’d like to see less intolerance toward some genres by people who read other genres (which I’ve been guilty of in the past). Nobody is forced to read romance if they prefer science fiction, but it’s not hard to accept our different tastes. Writing a novel – any novel – is hard work, and every genre has appeal to different types of readers, for different reasons.
What I have noticed among the writers I have met or who I engage with regularly on social media is a sincere delight in supporting, promoting and encouraging other writers – and it is a pleasure to be part of such a positive that network. I’m always happy to witness that in Australia’s literary scene.
NLK: Can you tell us about what you are currently working on?
ME: I’m currently (occasionally!) working on a novel inspired by my childhood in a blue-collar outer suburb of Perth in the 1970s. The protagonist is an 11-year-old bookworm and chatterbox who’s a little bit too desperate to find a kindred spirit among the girls at her school – until an extended visit from her Great Uncle, a Gallipoli veteran, reminds her it’s more important to be kind than to be popular. I’m trying to recapture the essence of a time when children relied on their imagination while playing, explored their surroundings from a bicycle seat, and had to make sure they were home for dinner before the street lights came on.
NLK (bonus question): Who is the most famous person you’ve interviewed?
ME: I’ve had the great pleasure of interviewing many famous people during my journalism career, including Prime Ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, Pulitzer Prize winner Geraldine Brooks, national treasures Tom Keneally and the late, great Colleen McCullough, and international best-selling authors including Eric van Lustbader, Philippa Gregory, Isabel Allende, Monica McInerney and Lisa Genova. Colleen McCullough was a delight – we chatted for almost an hour-and-a-half, during which she brought tears to my eyes and I heard her whole-hearted barking laugh several times. Tom Keneally was a whip-smart interview subject, and utterly charming – as was his daughter, Meg, who is co-writing an historical fiction series with him.
About Maureen Eppen
Maureen Eppen has been a freelance journalist for more than 30 years and now works in corporate communications and marketing. She writes book reviews and author interviews, hosts the Shelf Aware blog series, and is a grammar nerd who frequently questions her own spelling and punctuation. Her first children’s picture book Every Family is Different is available through Serenity Press, and she is currently procrastinating over her first novel, tentatively titled Saving Maisie O’Day.
Maureen practises yoga regularly and has completed two half-marathons and countless fun runs – at a glacial pace. She loves spending time with her husband, two daughters, extended family, friends and beloved boxer dog, and is a founding member of the legendary First Edition Book Club, Secret Harbour.
Connect with Maureen
Every Family is Different
Who’s in your family?
Some children live with their mum and dad, others live with their grandparents or foster parents. Some live in a big house, others live in a tiny apartment.
With captivating illustrations, Every Family is Different celebrates what it means to be part of a family, and reminds us that there’s something that’s always the same in every family…