Since I began to write fiction quite some years ago – short stories and then novels – my head has often been a scramble of strange events and characters. Sure, there were many times when circumstances drove me in other directions and the draft stories were shelved.
I worked in Sydney for many years, changed jobs and houses, moved in radical directions, but most of the time at least part of my brain inclined to the fictional . . . for better or for worse.
It’s no small thing to have this racket going on in your head, as writers all know. But it’s all too real when you’re asked ‘was that you?’ or a reader sends an anguished email to say ‘I’m worried that this story really happened, please tell me it isn’t true’.
Oh dear. No, I haven’t shot or drowned dogs; I was not hit over the head with a saddle bag while I read about King Zog of Albania; I didn’t lose my husband to another man; no child of mine got lost in the bush. I’m not Irene from Falling Glass, and yes, I rented an apartment once but they were not my sheets that blew off the balcony. It’s true, that as a teenager I learned piano for many years and of course I fell for an older boy – who doesn’t?
It took a while to quieten the clamour of my fictional people wanting to be heard. After writing the 3 books that now comprise The Midnight Pianist series, I became tired of being 15 years old, even though in the final book Sandra is 19 . . . I wanted to catch up with myself, if you can understand that, and I wonder how people manage when they write about past centuries!
To write successfully, you have to think yourself deeply into each character. It’s wonderful when it works, and I’m grateful when I hear from readers that they love what I write and how alive my people are.
It’s now been about 8 weeks since I decided it was time for a break. Sometimes a small voice from somewhere odd creeps into my head, but I say to it, Shoosh . . . please come back later.
So life goes . . . quietly now.