As part of the blog tour for Heart Note, I have an interview with Cassandra O Leary about her writing and the journey to becoming a writer and of course Christmas in Australia.
I’ve always been a creative person. Back in my school days, I was interested in art and drama. I read lots of books and enjoyed writing, but I never seriously considered a career as a writer. In the last few years, I’ve thought about the reasons why. Where I went to school, in the outer suburbs, a lower socio-economic area of Melbourne, Australia, it wasn’t the done thing.
There wasn’t much encouragement to work in the creative arts. I didn’t know of anyone with that kind of job. My dad worked in finance, my mum was a homemaker (also a volunteer and later, a swimming teacher and admin person). Other kids’ parents were mechanics, cooks, accountants, government workers, plumbers and builders, plus the odd school teacher.
As I got older, I decided I’d do something creative anyway. I pursued art and design. When I went to university, first studying Interior Design, I enjoyed all the art history, research and writing subjects more than the actual designing. So I switched to a Communications degree.
I still didn’t have the courage to go out into left field and just do something as ephemeral as creative writing. I needed money as a broke student so I worked in retail (yes, on the perfume counter of a department store, like the heroine in Heart Note) and I aimed to become a PR person.
PR and marketing to writer…
For many years I worked in PR and marketing jobs and I finally realised it was boring. Ha! It took me a while to work it out. I liked the money and the challenges of fast-moving projects. But translating other people’s thoughts into plain English, writing website content or explaining IT systems or higher education fees wasn’t rocking my world.
I suddenly started creative writing again at age 38. I’d always had an idea in the back of my mind that I’d write a novel. Once I started, I didn’t want to stop. It’s been almost 5 years since I put my hands back on the keyboard. A story idea in my head had to come out, the characters were talking to me. I loved putting words on the page.
I wrote a book!
I was a writer. Who knew?
No-one was as shocked as me. But to have an actual manuscript to my name was quite amazing. I also set myself the task of learning all about publishing and editing, plus social media marketing. I submitted a novel or two. And I wrote.
When my debut novel, Girl on a Plane, was published in 2016, it was like being a kid again on Christmas morning.
Christmas in Australia
Speaking of Christmas, I promised to write a little about Christmas in Australia, since that’s the setting for Heart Note. As an Aussie kid, I was inundated with media and movies from overseas and I longed for a white Christmas and snow. I still love Christmas movies but I reckon we need some Aussie ones.
Christmas to me is synonymous with summer. Scorching hot days without air-conditioning, sun so hot it felt like an oven with an open door as soon as you stepped outside, and summer holidays spent at the beach. This was fun until you got sunburnt!
Christmas lunches at our house involved quite a few extended family members. Prawns, lobster and cold meats like ham were on the menu. We had a live pine tree in a pot which we brought inside and decorated each year. We also went to Catholic Mass, which I suffered through rather than enjoyed. So many Amens and hymns to get through before presents!
These days, my husband and I have two little boys and we love having a big barbeque and party at our house on Christmas Eve. Lots of old friends and family come over and the kids run riot, bouncing on the trampoline and spraying each other with water pistols. And we eat, drink and be merry, which is what I reckon it’s all about.
Pop over to my fellow bloggers pages to learn more about Heart Note and Cassandra O Leary.