What inspired the idea behind this book?
The book started with a scene that became chapter four. I wrote about three boys doing bombies off a rope swing at a river where my sisters and I roamed as kids. The riverbank was unsupervised and mostly unseen, so it was a place where we could hang out away from adults. There was an element of wildness and danger there too – submerged rocks, people lingering, hairy caterpillars, snakes – and I wondered about the boys. Were they safe? What were their homes like? How did their lives turn out? I suspected that not everything went well, and I wanted to know what happened to them.
What are you hoping the reader will take away from reading your book?
I hope the book gives readers some time out to enter another world and be entertained! I also hope that readers experience a sense of familiarity – with adolescent roaming, with family relationships, and maybe even with the setting. I’ve tried to paint the physical setting and the local community as it was when I was growing up in an Australian country town. I wanted it to be a true picture, with all of the care and freedom that comes with country town life, as well as the conflict and disadvantage that is more in view when you live in a small community.
Tell us about your background and what led you to writing this book.
I started writing two years ago on the day after I was made redundant from my job in aged care. I wrote every day until I landed a part-time job. Two manuscripts came out of that – The River Mouth and Cast Aways. Cast Aways will also be published by Fremantle Press and will be released in September 2022.
I loved my job. I was in an executive role, overseeing home care services and a fleet of retirement villages, and I was devastated to lose it. I’ve had a lovely executive career and been very fortunate to work with some talented, hard-working people who really care about their clients. I miss it sometimes, but I still get to do good work in the aged and disability sectors through my position on the boards of Intelife and Advocare.
What’s some great advice you’ve received that has helped you as a writer?
A writer writes! On my writing days, I do the same as I do on my work days. I get dressed, eat breakfast, and go to my office. I write until lunchtime then I go back to my desk. I might keep writing on my current manuscript or I might write an article or prepare for an interview or get up to bring in the washing, but I stay there until five, when I log off. It is very unromantic but writing for me is much like any other job. If I want to do something well, I have to put my back into and work.
Are you able to switch off at the end of a day of writing? If so, how?
My brain turns into a pumpkin in the evenings, so going back to the keyboard after dinner is fruitless. I admire people like David Whish-Wilson who hold down full-time jobs and write after their families have gone to bed. I don’t know how they do that. After a day of writing, I really enjoy going for a run, cooking dinner with a glass of wine, and eating chocolate on the couch with my husband while we binge watch Scandinavian noir television series’.
Acknowledgment of Cultural Fund support
Better Reading acknowledges the support provided by Copyright Agency for us to promote The River Mouth.