Briefly tell us about your book?
Flying the Nest is a novel about nest parenting, a modern custody solution where when a couple separates, instead of the kids moving back and forth between their parents’ dwellings, the children stay in the family home and the parents take turns living with them. This scenario is thrust on my main character, Ashling, when her husband announces he wants out of their marriage. The book is about Ashling coming to terms with the reality of her marriage, wondering whether it is worth fighting for, all the while supporting her children through the emotional turmoil of parental separation and the other issues faced by today’s teens. On this journey, Ashling finds herself living alternate weeks in a small coastal community, where she not only makes friends and meets a handsome fisherman, but also gets curious about a local mystery, renovates a rundown shack and begins to wonder if maybe what she thought she wanted out of life is not actually what she wants at all.
What inspired the idea behind this book?
There were two seeds of inspiration for Flying the Nest. First, an article I read about nest parenting, a custody arrangement I’d never heard of before. I remember thinking that in theory this sounded like the perfect idea (much better for the children) but that in practise it could be fraught with drama and conflict. Right away, I knew it was something I wanted to explore in a novel. The other seed came to me when I visited the town of Dampier in Western Australia and heard about ‘Sam’s Island’, a place where one man, who was originally not much more than a squatter, built a castle out of rocks, driftwood and other ocean debris and became a local legend. I couldn’t believe no one had written about him before, so I based my fictional character of Bill loosely on his story.
What was the research process like for the book?
For the nest parenting element, I read a lot of articles about couples who had success with this arrangement and also by psychologists offering advice on how to do it well. I spoke to a couple of families who were attempting to do it as well. Other things I needed to research for various other elements of the book were online gaming addictions and DNA testing. I read books about technology addictions in teens – one I found most useful was Brad Marshall’s The Tech Diet for your Child & Teen (a must read for all parents). And the fun part, I did my own Ancestry.com DNA test, so I’d be able to write about the experience. I was super excited and hopeful about discovering something I didn’t know about my family, sadly my results were very boring.
Does the creative process get easier for you with each book?
If anything I feel like it gets harder – I have to dig deeper each time I write a new book. I think the first few books I wrote, although by no means autobiographical, had a lot of me in them, but the more I write, the more I need to look outside myself and my life for inspiration. The ideas don’t seem to come as freely anymore, but at the same time I feel like now I know how to hunt one down and bring it to life if need be. In terms of actually writing, I am slower than I used to be, and I believe this is because I have more voices in my head than I did when I began. Now I have the voices of book reviewers, bloggers, booksellers and all the editors I’ve worked with telling me what I can and can’t do, and in some ways I ‘know’ more so I question myself a lot more too. In the end, writing is never easy but it’s about believing that there is magic to be found if you show up at the page (or rather the computer) and put in the work.
What is something that has influenced you as a writer?
There are so many things – every book I read, every author I call a friend, every writer I’ve listened to talk about their process have influenced me in some way. However, if I have to choose one thing, it would be my membership with the Romance Writers of Australia. I joined this wonderful organisation ten years after floundering around in the dark trying to write (and there was an actual writing degree in there as well). It wasn’t until I found RWA that I truly started to learn what it takes to write a good book. In addition to the workshops and conferences I’ve been to through RWA, the people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made in the organisation have shaped me into the writer I am today. Being a member of RWA taught me that although writing is a magical career, it is also a profession and that I should treat it accordingly.