I met Lorraine Horsley a few years ago at a SCBWI West event. We’ve been friends since and I was delighted when she rang to tell me the fab news that she was being published by Dixi Books. What I love about this interview is Lorraine’s sheer determination, resilience, and persistence. If you’re thinking that maybe it’s time you sat down to write, read this interview first, and I guarantee that you’ll be reaching for your pencil or laptop before you know it!
NLK: Can you tell us about your journey to publication? What advice would you give to newbie writers embarking on their journey to publication?
LH: One of my earliest memories was of banging away on Mum’s typewriter. I knew before I could even write that I wanted to be a writer. I loved stories and some of my happiest memories are of my dad reading to me. That was a looong time ago and only now do I start to feel that I can call myself a writer.
Getting published is hard. I sent out my first manuscript over 20 years ago. I’ve sent out many more since, all rejected, but the rejections got nicer. Often, I’d get feedback or would get to acquisitions stage, but just couldn’t jump that last hurdle.
In the end I decided I would self-publish a non-fiction book to establish an author platform which I thought would help. I was sick of waiting. The second I had that thought one of my picture books got picked up by Dixi Books in the UK. After all those years I was gob-smacked! Ayse the publisher asked what else I was working on. I told her about my non-fiction book, but said I was keen to self-publish. She asked if she could see it first. It’s now been published by Dixi Books.
My advice to newbie writers is to not get too bogged down on the issue of publishing. It can sap the joy from the writing. Write for the joy of it. And never quit. You may keep writing and never get where you want to go, but if you quit you definitely won’t.
NLK: What has been the most rewarding thing about publishing You’ve Got This?
LH: Gosh. There have been many rewards. Firstly, seeing my book in print, actually holding a book in my hands that I wrote! That bit of validation of getting over that publishing finishing line is a sweet, sweet feeling. Celebrating the book being out in the world with family and friends was fabulous. The most rewarding thing of all though is knowing that my cheery yellow book is out there helping students. It’s been added to the reading list for the course I teach at Curtin University and if it helps just one student overcome fear of failure and study anxiety it’s done its job.
NLK: What have been the most challenging obstacles you’ve faced during your writing career?
LH: I think whenever you pursue a creative dream, or any dream for that matter, there are going to be challenges. Silencing the inner critic is always hard. Self-doubt constantly rears its head and says Who are you to be doing this? I’ve come to acknowledge that voice, then to push on regardless. People write books. Ordinary people. I’m just an ordinary person writing a book.
NLK: What do you wish you’d known before you started writing for publication?
LH: I’ve learnt that you don’t need as much time as you think you do. I wasted a lot of years being too busy to write. I was waiting for that perfect block of time when my to-do list was clear. Of course, that perfect block of time never magically appears. I’ve since learnt I can only write in around 40-minute blocks anyway and then my brain kicks out of gear. I wrote a children’s novel in 20 minutes a day. I wish I’d known years ago that it’s about grabbing the spare minutes for writing not the spare days.
I’ve also learnt not to put your book on a pedestal. As soon as you start thinking of THE BOOK like it’s a holy thing it’s impossible to face the page. As soon as I told myself I was going to write lots of books THE BOOK tumbled from that pedestal and just became one of the herd. I cattle-prodded it to where it needed to be.
NLK: You’ve taught students and been a presenter and producer for radio. How have these experiences influenced your writing?
LH: I’ve had so many wonderful jobs and I think all of them have prepared me for writing. I love people and their stories. Everyone has a story and while working for the ABC my job was to uncover those stories. I loved the creativity of putting together radio packages and bringing people’s stories to light. I’d often take oral stories and turn them into written, online stories. That taught me how to be succinct and to make each word count.
Having spent most of my life in the media I’ve also learnt the power of tight deadlines. Give me a year to accomplish something and it will take me a year, expect it next week I’ll have it done by next week.
Teaching has also been wonderful. I teach a lot of students suffering from self-doubt and fear of failure. Seeing them learn how to write effectively is incredible, especially if English is a second language for them. I had one student for whom English was a fifth language! Working with the language closely gives you a good understanding of its subtleties.
NLK: Can you please tell us a little about your picture book?
LH: When You Left is written for children going through the conflicting emotions of a family break-up and the confusion that can come with a new parent coming into the mix. I’m a third parent, a proud step-mum, and I’m blessed to have a happy, blended family. I wanted kids to know that while their birth-parents may no longer be together, they are still loved and there is plenty more love to give and to receive. An extra parent can mean more love, not less. When You Left is ultimately a book of hope.
NLK: Have you got a favourite book on the craft of writing? Can you please tell us why you would recommend this book to writers?
LH: Ooh tricky one! If I had to choose just one, I’d say Stephen King’s On Writing. It so much more than just a craft book. It too is a book of hope, I think. Stephen King was at rock bottom when he started to write Carrie. The self-doubt wobblies saw him throw the first few pages away. His wife, Tabitha, fished it out of the bin and said she thought he should finish it. The rest, as they say, is history. There’s a lesson there for all writers I think. On Writing is one of the few books I’ve re-read. With so many books left in the world to read I don’t have time for re-reading. But that one, yep, I’ll be reading that again.
About Lorraine Horsley
Lorraine Horsley writes stories for children and adults along with non-fiction. Her first non-fiction book, You’ve Got This, Tips for the Uncertain Student was published by Dixi Books in October 2021. Her first picture book, When You Left, is scheduled to be released by Dixi Books in July 2022.
Lorraine has a Bachelor of Arts in English, an Associate Degree in Training and Development, a Masters of Arts in Professional Writing and Literature and has just embarked upon another education journey with a Higher Degree by Research.
Lorraine calls Australia home and for most of her life she has worked in the media. For many years she was a presenter and producer with ABC Radio. She’s also spent the last couple of decades teaching and tutoring students at the start of their higher education journeys.
When not teaching or studying, Lorraine spends her time writing. She is a long-time member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is a committee member of the Children’s Book Council of Australia WA Branch (CBCAWA).
Lorraine believes books can change the world, and the right book at the right time can change your life.
Connect with Lorraine
Website – lorrainehorsley.com
Facebook – Lorraine Horsley Author https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100057208130379
Instagram – @lorrainehorsleyauthor