– GUEST AUTHOR –
Today I welcome an Australian guest author who has led an interesting life – June Collins. Welcome, June. Tell us more …
Q.Tell us a little about your writing journey.
I always loved stories, whether reading them, listening to them or writing them. I must have driven my Grandmother mad, always asking her to ‘tell me about the olden days’. I listened to those stories with rapt attention, over and over and over again. In school I strove always to get top marks in composition, even though I dreaded having to read my work to the class. My difficulty was in sometimes over-writing. One time I was hurt when I did NOT obtain the highest marks and the teacher wrote on my paper ‘We want quality, not quantity.’ Hopefully, that has been overcome.
Sadly, I later let my interest in writing drop.
Q. Were you a good reader as a kid?
With total lack of humility, I admit to having been an excellent reader as a kid, whether reading aloud or to myself. Reading was a drug, especially boys adventure stories. My mind ran wild with dreams of future travel and adventure.
Q. When and how did you become a writer?
I was a late starter and it may not have happened had I not needed money and realized I had a story to tell. Towards the end of the Vietnam War I became a whistle blower against a group of corrupt army club sergeants who ran the American NCO and EM clubs in Vietnam. I had been doing business with them, and paying compulsory kickbacks while providing rock bands to their clubs. When they discovered I had reported them to the CID, my business was ruined and things got pretty darned hairy. However, a U.S. Senate Investigating Committee got wind of what was happening and called for hearings. They flew me to Washington as their chief witness. My story made front page headlines and I saw the possibility of recouping my losses by writing the story.
My first manuscript was turned down by a New York agent for not being well written. Robin Moore, a successful American author, then agreed to re-write the story with me. During the process, he gave me an entire one-on-one writing course.
Q. What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
The writing process itself. I stumble out of bed and automatically head straight for the computer.
Q. What is the hardest thing about being a writer?
Finding enough quiet time to write. I have several family members living with me and they take up quite a few of my daylight hours. They need me to drive, – to babysit, – to help with school work, etc. etc. By night time I am too tired to write. That is why I get out of bed at 4 am each day and write until 8 am. If I’m lucky, I might get a chance to write again, later in the day.
Regarding the technicalities of writing, I sometimes get my tenses muddled. Another problem is I was raised in Australia but raised my own children in America. Frequently I forget if I’m using the English or the American spelling. After all the homework I supervised, I fall into American spelling more naturally.
Q. What were you in a past life, before you became a writer?
A showgirl, a magician’s assistant, a theatrical booking agent, a nightclub proprietor, a TV talk show host. So you see, I have quite a lot of material to choose from.
Q. What is your greatest writing achievement?
My last book, Goodbye Junie Moon. I did it without help and I like it!
Q. What are you working on now?
A sequel to Goodbye Junie Moon. It is almost finished but does not yet have a title.
Q. What inspires you?
How about a child’s face, a flower garden, trees, birds, a full moon, graceful body movement, strong women who protect their children? Humility in others!
Q. What genre do you write?
I write memoir. There is so much material to choose from. Sometimes I try to include it all and then I realize that I must cut some out unless I want to compete with James Mitchener. After I’ve exhausted reporting my life, I aspire to writing humour
Q. Do you have any tips for new writers?
Just write and write and write. When you’re finished, re-write and re-write and re-write. Don’t listen to everyone who offers an opinion on your work, BUT, if several start saying the same thing, then you can listen.
Q. Do you suffer from writers block?
I do occasionally. If I get discouraged I temporarily give up. A trick I’ve learned is to quit the part that is blocking me and move onto something else. Later it seems to sort itself out and I can come back to the troublesome part and it flows again.
Q. Do you have a preferred writing schedule?
Four am or earlier. I seem to wake up with words and sentences in my brain. By mid-day I’m tired and my brain becomes dormant.
Q. Do you have a favorite writing place?
My office used to be downstairs and it was a deterrent to have to go downstairs to write. I added an office addition to my bedroom and now it is convenient to just sit down and write at any hour of the night or day.
Q. What is your greatest joy in writing?
Remembering the good times and bringing them back to life. Not all times were good but if I can induce emotion in myself and others when I write about them, that is a great reward.
Q. Who is your favorite author and why?
My favorites started long ago with Mark Twain, Jonathan Swift, Robert Louis Stevenson, Alfred Noyes, Georgette Heyer, Robert Ruark, Ernest Hemingway, Joan Didion, Angela Maya, Ken Follett, John Creasey. There was one ‘girls’ author in that lot that I liked in my early teens. Georgette Heyer stoked my dreams of romance but for the most part, I liked action/adventure. Maybe that is what started me out on the path I later followed.
Q. What is the greatest compliment you ever received from a reader?
All my five star Amazon reviews are most complimentary and downright flattering so I accept them gratefully and prefer not to choose.
Q. What is the worst comment from a reader?
One reader gave me a one star review even though she admitted to reading only the first few pages of the book. She claimed my book contained ‘forbiddened’ sex. That was her spelling not mine. She was talking about Goodbye Junie Moon which opens with a steamy scene although the book is not erotica – which she would have discovered had she read on. I never uncovered the supposed forbidden acts. Fortunately for me, another reader jumped to my defense in response to the negative review.
Q. Writers are sometimes influenced by things that happen in their own lives. Are you?
Copyright Horst Faas (c)
Q. How many books have you published?
One was published by Crown in hardcover and Avon in paperback. Another, the last, is self published.
Q. Have you won any prizes or awards?
Q. Other than writing what else do you love?
Music, travel, dance. Truth and justice. If you had asked this question a few years back I would have answered children. I still love them but I am no longer involved with them the way I used to be. They were my focus then, not writing, and I adopted six of them from four countries. It is now that they have grown that I can find the time to write.
Q. Did you have your book/books professionally edited before publication?
The first one was thoroughly edited by the publishing house that bought it. Regarding Goodbye Junie Moon, I had the manuscript professionally assessed and the first half professionally edited. I learned much and did the remainder myself. Editing is expensive, especially here in Australia! Unfortunately, I am a nit-wit when it comes to computers and social networking. These skills are pretty essential today. Unable to format my manuscript for ebook and POD myself, I paid several thousand dollars to have someone else do it for me. This cut into by budget.
Q. If you had an opportunity to speak to the entire world, what would you say?
Oscar Wilde hit the nail on the head when he said “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist; that is all.” I endorse that. Take some risks and live a little.
Q. Describe your perfect day.
Start with four hours of writing that totally excites me. Have lunch with some dear friends. Maybe discuss the latest books. Allow time in the afternoon to spend with family members who live with me. On a perfect day we would all be in complete harmony. There would be no complaints and the dogs would behave themselves. My house would be spotless of course, someone else having cleaned it as a kindness to me. There would be a full moon that night and I would sit with a glass of merlot on my deck. I would catch the moon in its early stages while it was still large and yellow, hanging just above the ocean, its light shimmering on the dark water. I’d probably have another glass of merlot. You can probably guess I’ve watched that moon many times and I do love merlot.
Q. What are your greatest assets as a writer?
I am a simple writer and don’t feel I write many ‘literary’ passages. Consequently I never enter writing contests. However, I have a knack for writing scenes that you can see and feel. Maybe I should have been a movie script writer. After reading my work, people often say “Oh, I can just see that. This would make a terrific movie scene.”
Q. If you were stuck on an island with one person, who would you like it to be? Why?
If he was still here, which he isn’t, I’d choose Jacques Costeau; after he had undergone a nose job. I loved his lifestyle, a mix of travel, adventure and exploration.
Q. Should you write your perfect book, what would it be about?
Probably me – again; leaving out all the bad parts.
Q. What are your plans for the future?
I must finish my sequel to Goodbye Junie Moon. I would then like to write a humorous story about antique dealers. That’s something I forgot to mention – I used to be one of them too. Other than that, I won’t go quietly. I’ll continue stirring up trouble as I endeavor to keep life interesting to the end.
Q. Anything you’d like to add?
I’m sure you’re thinking, “Enough already!”
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