Tasmanian-born author Sally Odgers joins me today. She graciously answers my questions. I think you'll find her very interesting.
How long have you been writing?
I started writing seriously when I was eleven, which is forty years ago.
How did you pick the genre you write in?
I write in lots of genres… in fact, I’ve probably written almost everything except literary fiction. I seldom write sports stories or political thrillers… but I have done now and again. My favourite genres are fantasy, science fiction and historical, all because I can craft my own version of reality.
Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?
I plot things in quite a lot of detail, although sometimes I depart from the plan and have to return to the drawing board.
What do you know now that you are published that you didn’t know pre-published that you wish you knew?
I know I should NOT have spent hours typing things that were inherently unpublishable. I have been typing for forty years, and have had tendonitis in both hands for the last ten. If I hadn’t written all those unpublished mss my hands mightn’t hurt now. On the plus side, I have self-published some of those ms!
How many rejections have you received?
Their name is Legion. I’ve had about 280 books published, and at least as many rejections. I suspect I’m Tasmania’s most published living author… by book count, at least.
What was the best writing advice someone gave you?
None, really. In fact, a lot of advice I’ve been given has been counter-productive or just plain incorrect. See below!
What was the worst? Did you know it at the time?
One of the most misleading is, “Write from the heart”. It sounds lovely, but it leads to more rejections than usual. Another misleading piece is, “Write what you know”. What I knew was all about Tasmanian rural life. That’s precisely what no one wanted to read about! I use very much modified versions of these two precepts. One is, “Write FROM the HEART if you want to, but don’t expect to get it published. To get published, write FOR the MARKET.” The other is, “Know what you Write”. In other words, get your research done! And no, I didn’t know how misleading these were. I found out by experience. I wish they were true.
Tell me one thing about yourself that very few people know?
I was diagnosed as an insomniac as a child, and prescribed with sleeping tablets. It wasn’t until I grew up I discovered I had never had insomnia at all. It was just that my body clock is askew. My natural go-to-sleep time is about 2 a.m., and I wake (naturally) at about 10 a.m. No wonder I used to lie awake for hours when I was sent to bed at what was, to my clock, the middle of the afternoon! Being self-employed has saved me from hours of nocturnal and morning misery.
What do you consider your weaknesses?
A deep desire to write what I want rather than what the market wants.
What do you do when you are not writing?
I run a small manuscript assessment business. I also do a lot of walking with my husband and/or our dogs. I read, either in the usual way or via audio-books. I listen to music, play Scrabble and mess about with my websites. I like gardening. I used to enjoy free form embroidery until the tendonitis put a stop to the small fine movements. I spend a fair bit of time with various family members, either actually (parents, sister, daughter, husband) or virtually (son and daughter-in-law).
Sally Odgers was born in Latrobe, Tasmania, in the 1950s. She went to school there in the 1960s, married there in the 1970s, had children there in the 1980s, began her manuscript assessment business there in the 1990s and continues to live there in the 2000s. Along the way she has written books. Sample titles include, Her Kingdom for a Pony (first book-length publication, 1970s) Dreadful David (first picture book publication, 1980s) Translations in Celadon, Shadowdancers and Trinity Street, (long fantasies, 1990s), Candle Iron (long fantasy, 2000), Replay (2007) the Jack Russell; Dog Detective series (co-written with Darrel Odgers) 2005-9.
A love song, a mystery, a waltz through history. Aelfthryth and Harry were born in 11th Century Kent, so what are they doing in Sydney a thousand years later? Two girls in a locked room. One schnauzer dog desperate to find them. They all have secrets...