Book Nerd Interview
Photo Credit to Jesse Smith
Frances Whiting is one of Australia’s best known and most popular writers. A senior feature writer for Queensland’s premier weekend magazine, Q Weekend in the Courier Mail, Frances is also a much loved columnist for the Sunday Mail, and other Sunday newspapers around Australia, with her weekly column now in its nineteenth year. Two bestselling collections of her columns have been published in Australia: Oh to Be a Marching Girl (2003), and That’s a Home Run, Tiger! (2006). Frances lives in Brisbane, Queensland with her husband and two children.
Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
Not so much my youth, but in my early thirties! When left school I became a primary school teacher, which I enjoyed but I never really felt in was a lifetime career for me.
Later, when I returned home from an extended overseas working holiday where I had taught in Europe and the UK, I felt I had reached the end of my road as a teacher.
I knew I wanted to do something else, but what? I spoke to a lot of my friends about the way I was feeling and they ALL said, WRITE. I was a little shocked, to be honest, but
they reminded me that in primary school I used to write serials and read them aloud in instalments at lunch time ( I had forgotten!), and in high school I wrote short stories for friends, which I had also forgotten!
Then my family chimed in telling me about how as a child I was forever writing stories... and slowly it dawned on me that I had never really stopped writing, but that I had never considered it as a career.
So I went back to university and did a journalism degree, and began to write for a living. I loved it, and still do. But I'm glad it took me so long because now when I visit schools as a guest teacher I can tell the students not
to panic if they haven't found their way yet, or have no idea what they want to do, because it takes some of us a bit longer than others _ and also if there is something you are really meant to do, it has a way of finding you.
Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Gosh, that's a great question...because it's how we speak to each other through generations, how civilisation explains itself to itself, and
because sometimes, when life is just too hard, a good story offers escape, clarity and salvation when nothing else can.
Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
Mmmmm, so many but I'm going to go with Clive James "Unreliable Memoirs'' because it proved to me that you can be a sublime writer and funny at the same time!
James sets the bar for me, in terms of taking the reader with you. To read this book is to travel to London as a serious, young writer and be HOPELESSLY out of place, fast running out of time to make your mark, but
knowing somewhere deep inside that you can write, you will write, and that everything will somehow be all right in the end...
Outside of my genre....Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron.... what an astonishing book... it is much more of a mystery/fantasy novel than I would usually read but it took my breath away.
It is just so beautifully written, and a damn fine, rollicking tale...I highly recommend it.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author
"Put down that wine!" No, I think convincing me of the value of the rewrite, that you don't have to get it right first time.
I still struggle with that, it may be the journalist coming out in me, but I want every sentence to be just right.
I met an author at a Writer's Festival here in Australia, and we were speaking about this and she said to me "You need to think of editing or re-writing as a gift,
where else in your life do you get to do-over something again and again and again until you're completely happy with it?"
What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
Well, I'm coming to the United States for the first time with my family and hope to meet some readers there, I'm working on my second novel which is
at its heart about double lives, I'm working on a television series script with another writer here in Australia and I'm raising my family with, I hope, enthusiasm, humour and love!
“Tallulah de Longland,” she said slowly, letting all the L’s in my name loll about lazily in her mouth before passing judgment. “That,” she announced, “is a serious glamorgeous name.”
From the day Annabelle Andrews sashays into her classroom, Tallulah ‘Lulu’ de Longland is bewitched: by Annabelle, by her family, and by their sprawling, crumbling house tumbling down to the river. Their unlikely friendship intensifies through a secret language where they share confidences about their unusual mothers, first loves, and growing up in the small coastal town of Juniper Bay. But the euphoria of youth rarely lasts, and the implosion that destroys their friendship leaves lasting scars and a legacy of self-doubt that haunts Lulu into adulthood.
Years later, Lulu is presented with a choice: remain the perpetual good girl who misses out, or finally step out from the shadows and do something extraordinary. And possibly unforgivable… It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce.
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