Author Q&A: Judy Nunn on Showbusiness and Creativity

Author Q&A: Judy Nunn on Showbusiness and Creativity

Briefly tell us about your book

In a nutshell, my book is about show business, hence its title Showtime! (complete with exclamation mark.) But it’s actually about much, much more. Set over a period of 50 years, from the 1870s to the end of WWI my characters travel through vastly important times in Australia’s history. The excitement that followed the Victorian gold rush; the birth of federation; the ‘Black Death’ bubonic plague; and the battle fields of Gallipoli and the Western Front, to name just a few.

The golden era of Australian theatre was born as a result of the gold rush days, and the members of my fictitious Worthing family arrive in Melbourne along with the many thousands who flocked there. They are performers to start with, but throughout the tumultuous times that follow they go on to become entrepreneurs and form a theatrical family dynasty.

Does the creative process get easier for you with each book?

The creative process most certainly does not get easier with each book. In fact it gets a great deal harder as I keep setting the bar higher and trying new things. I like to vary the way I structure a novel, perhaps weaving two stories together, or coming from a different point of view, at times even using a different ‘voice’. For instance, with ‘SHOWTIME!’ I’ve brought in a character, Emily, who speaks directly to the reader, so now and then the narrative will go to Em and I’ll be writing in first person instead of third.  I haven’t done a ‘switch’ like that before.

What was the most challenging part of writing this book?

The very times we’re living through proved the most challenging aspect in the writing of this book. I’m referring of course to Covid-19. I always go on field trips to the various towns and regions in which I base a novel. I map out my locations, discover local historians, gather material, and talk to people with a personal knowledge of the place. None of that was possible this time, which I found most frustrating. Fortunately I’ve lived in Melbourne for extended periods over a number of years, and I’ve worked in some of the grand theatres there, so I have a distinct ‘feel’ for the city, particularly from a theatrical perspective. While on tour I’ve also visited each of the regional towns that feature in the book, but it’s not the same as walking through the streets, visualising them as they would have been a hundred years ago. I was lucky, however, to have some wonderful books on the early theatrical entrepreneurs of Australia and these proved inspirational as well as informative.

Do you write about people you know? Or yourself?

I write about absolutely everybody! In fact I regularly warn people – be careful what you say or do in front of a writer – you never know what’ll end up in a book. I’m joking of course, but only to a certain extent.  Although people won’t recognise themselves specifically, there will be always be mannerisms, reactions, relationships and God knows what else that I’ve observed over the years and kept somewhere in the recesses of my mind. I’m sure all writers of fiction do this. I refer to it as ‘the third eye’, where you observe, preserve and store away all sorts of things. I also call very much upon my own experiences – again as I think most writers must.

If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?

My advice to aspiring writers would simply be ‘don’t procrastinate’. We all have a story to tell, and I strongly believe that anyone who’s literate can write a book. Whether or not this book will get published and its author become a professional writer is another thing altogether, but I would encourage the undertaking most certainly. Bear in mind, however, that ‘procrastination’ is the true writer’s curse. SO – make your notes, do your research, take your time, a year if necessary – but set a date! ‘One day…’ simply won’t do. Then on the date you’ve set, sit down and start chapter one, page one, and the very best of luck to you.


A Total Showstopper: Read an Extract from Judy Nunn’s Showtime!

Review | Extract

30 September 2021

A Total Showstopper: Read an Extract from Judy Nunn’s Showtime!

    Judy Nunn’s Showtime! Deserves a Standing Ovation: Read Our Review

    Review | Our Review

    27 September 2021

    Judy Nunn’s Showtime! Deserves a Standing Ovation: Read Our Review

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        Publisher details

        Judy Nunn
        28 September, 2021


        In the second half of the 19th century, Melbourne is a veritable boom town, as hopefuls from every corner of the globe flock to the gold fields of Victoria.And where people crave gold, they also crave entertainment.Enter stage right: brothers Will and Max Worthing and their wives Mabel and Gertie. The family arrives from England in the 1880s with little else but the masterful talents that will see them rise from simple travelling performers to sophisticated entrepreneurs.Enter stage left: their rivals, Carlo and Rube. Childhood friends since meeting in a London orphanage, the two men have literally fought their way to the top and are now producers of the bawdy but hugely popular ‘Big Show Bonanza’. The fight for supremacy begins.
        Judy Nunn
        About the author

        Judy Nunn

        Judy Nunn’s career has been long, illustrious and multifaceted. After combining her internationally successful acting career with scriptwriting for television and radio, Judy decided in the 90s to turn her hand to prose. Her first three novels, The Glitter Game, Centre Stage and Araluen, set respectively in the worlds of television, theatre and film, became instant bestsellers, and the rest is history, quite literally in fact. She has since developed a love of writing Australian historically-based fiction and her fame as a novelist has spread rapidly throughout Europe where she is published in English, German, French, Dutch, Czech and Spanish. Her subsequent bestsellers, Kal, Beneath the Southern Cross, Territory, Pacific, Heritage, Floodtide, Maralinga,Tiger Men,Elianne, Spirits of the Ghan, Sanctuary and Khaki Town confirmed Judy’s position as one of Australia’s leading fiction writers. She has now sold over one million books in Australia alone. In 2015 Judy was made a Member of the Order of Australia for her "significant service to the performing arts as a scriptwriter and actor of stage and screen, and to literature as an author."

        Books by Judy Nunn


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