This is a weekly series of guest posts on How Writers Work. Australian YA author Lili Wilkinson talks about her writing process.
How did you get your first book published?
I think my publication story is a bit different to a lot of people’s. Because I worked at the Centre for Youth Literature, writing reviews and articles there and for The Age, Andrew and Maryann at Black Dog Books knew who I was and had read my writing. It probably didn’t hurt that they are my mum’s publisher, I did high school work experience there and I used to babysit their kids. So one day Andrew asked if I’d like to try writing a book. I said “yes”. He said “About Joan of Arc”. I said “Huh?”. He said “About Joan of Arc”. So I did. I looked her up on Wikipedia, found links to some amazing primary source documents, and wrote a non fiction book for teenagers called (unsurprisingly) Joan of Arc.
Your writing routine
I have a brand new one, as I’ve recently left the CYL and started my PhD in YA Literature/Creative Writing. So some days I work at Uni, reading and researching, and others I’m here at home. I usually procrastinate for an hour or two in the morning, then panic and am very efficient for the rest of the day. I love being a freelance writer. I work hard, but I also get to manage my own time and have breakfast with friends, go to yoga class, and occasionally fit in a little afternoon sewing.
Your creative space
My writing space is also my sewing space. What you can’t see in this photo is that it’s surrounded by recording equipment and guitars, as my partner is a musician and we share a study. So it’s a versatile space, but one that has a lot of character. I’m also not averse to taking my laptop downstairs and writing on the couch, or at Uni. I expect the highly anticipated purchase of an iPad will help facilitate me being a somewhat peripatetic writer.
The bear you can see on the right is Oo Ted, and he’s my oldest toy. His name is Oo because when I got him, I was too little to say “New Teddy” properly. After watching Toy Story 3 I pulled him out of the cupboard and now he’s a very useful companion (and sometimes a harsh critic).
Your latest publication or WIP
It’s called A Pocketful of Eyes with Allen & Unwin. It’s a rom-crime – a romantic-comedy-mystery-detective sort of thing, about Bee, a mystery-obsessed teen who is doing work experience in the taxidermy department of a Natural History Museum. It was a tricky one to write, having to work in the clues and have them pay off in just the right way – but it was also heaps of fun.