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.