What inspired the idea behind this book?
I had achieved what looked like the “perfect life”: a highly-paid executive job with lots of travel, a house in a suburb on Sydney Harbour, a loving partner and two healthy kids. But I just felt sick and exhausted all the time. One day when my partner asked me to describe the feeling, I said it was like somebody had turned up the volume in my life to 11 out of 10 – and then broken the volume control so it was stuck there!
What was the research process like for the book?
I’ve worked for most of my life as a journalist so when I decided to write a book about turning down the digital and external noise in my life, I was determined it wasn’t just going to be a personal journey. I wanted to find out what the medical and scientific research had to say about the physiological and psychological effects of noise. Conversely, I wanted to know whether there was any scientific evidence to show that quiet practices and places could have a positive impact on us. I spoke to a lot of experts and read a lot of research papers! But I was also my own guinea pig. I stayed with monks, went on a 10 day silent meditation retreat, and hiked to one of the quietest places in the USA, and explored other ways to turn down the noise.
If I looked at your internet history, what would it reveal about you?
That I am a political and news junkie and a compulsive researcher! Once I am interested in a topic, I want to find everything that has ever been written or said about it. The Internet can be my best friend but also my worst enemy: a constant source of digital noise.
What are you hoping the reader will take away from reading your book?
That if they are feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, there might be a good reason for it: there has never been a noisier time for human beings to live, and our brains don’t like it! The good news is, there are simple ways to turn down the noise in your life. Most of them don’t cost a cent; you don’t need to wear lycra; and you can do many of them in your own home. What’s not to love?!
How does it feel to hold your book in your hands?
I absolutely love what Murdoch Books did with this book! It still fills me with joy. Somehow they managed to capture the spirit of my quest for quiet in the cover design: it is multi-dimensional and has to be held and felt to really be understood.
Does the creative process get easier for you with each book?
As a journalist, I have spent most of my adult working life writing so it should be a cinch by now! I’ve also previously written a political book (Inside Kevin07) under an extremely tight deadline. But I was surprised by how vulnerable I felt with Turning Down the Noise. In many ways it was a completely different creative process. I realised very early that I could not explore this topic at arm’s length, like a journalist. I had to live it. That was confronting and still is. But I hope that by admitting my own flaws and fears, I might help people who might also be feeling overwhelmed by the noise of the modern world.
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?
Writing a book is like eating an elephant. The only way to do it is one bite at a time! Seriously, at some point you simply have to face the blank page or screen and start putting words on it. Good luck!!