This month on Aussie Owned and Read we’re celebrating the arrival of two new bloggers with round-robin interviews, and today I have the pleasure of interviewing one of our newbies, Kaz Delaney. Kaz is the award-winning author of YA novels, Dead, Actually, Almost Dead and The Reluctant Jillaroo. So to kick things off I’ll ask the obvious question writers get;
- What made you want to be a writer?
I truly believe I didn’t have a choice with this authorly gig. My earliest memories are of stories playing out in my head – and yes that sounds creepy and probably is/was. It’s never gone away and I can’t stop. There’s no ‘off’ button. And while that’s a blessing and I’m enjoying a lovely career that’s spanned a couple of decades, I gotta say it can also be a curse. Like sometimes – okay, not often – but sometimes I’d just like to hang out a ‘no vacancies’ sign. You know? Sometimes it’s very tiring carrying around so many people and situations in your head. #needabiggerhead. Ha!
- Which authors do you most admire, and why?
OO! Holding up crossed fingers. Like I’m scaring off a werewolf or something. This is pretty much a taboo question for me. It’s a brain exploding question. I truly couldn’t begin to list them. Basically I’m a genre gal and I love trying new authors in those genres.
- How do you maintain your motivation during the rough times?
There are different kinds of rough times. For those times when for physical reasons I can’t get to a computer or scratch out time to write, I simply try to keep the goal in sight. Maybe keeping my motivation alive is a better way of looking at it. It’s a beast and it’s gotta be fed. So, I think about stories, play them out in my head. Jot down notes when I can. Play ‘what if’.
For times when I can’t write due to extreme emotional or health reasons and my muse puts out the Do Not Disturb sign? I read. Reading is another way of feeding the beast.
The thing I’ve learned is not to panic if I’m feeling ‘empty’. I’ve learned my creativity will be there waiting for when I’m ready. And it’s usually got a few nice surprises for me. And an idea is the best motivation to get going again. Right?
- Did you have to give up anything to make this all happen, and do you regret any of it?
OMG – are you talking about sleep?? Says she typing this at 4am! No, seriously, any form of success or self actualisation is likely to require sacrifice of some kind. That’s life. Mine is probably family time, though I try to balance and be fair. They understand that I have commitments and deadlines. It’s clever to be aware, though, if your sacrifice is something like this – that it’s a two way street. If you’re sacrificing family time then the family is as well. Make them proud but don’t make them pay. Find the balance.
- Are you a plotter or a pantser, and is you current system working for you?
Plantser all the way! Ha! Obviously I’m neither. I used to think I was a plotter because I can’t begin a story until I have all my ducks in a row. That is – know my characters, the conflict, their motivations, setting and the general story line. But I realised one day that I’m not really a plotter; that I simply need this information to start writing.
Sure, I need a jump off point, but after that? Basically I know the beginning of the story and who populates it. I know how I think it will end and I ‘might’ know the black point. But how I fill the space between the beginning and the end? That’s an organic process and the characters dictate that journey. Rarely do they lead me astray. But that’s probably because I’m a huge GMC fan. Goal Motivation Conflict. I always need to know that before I start.
- What feeling do you want readers to get from what you write?
Satisfaction, I guess. A sense that these people/characters they’ve devoted their time to are worth it; that they care what happens next. I always judge a great book by how long it stays with me after I’m finished reading. That’s what I want: the reader to be thinking about my characters and their story the next day at school or driving to work. Or as they drift off to sleep.
- What are the biggest struggles you face in this journey, and how do you plan to overcome them?
Hard question. A bit like stones being tossed up by a passing truck, things are often going to be thrown at your career. Like the truck thing, they’re random. You might not expect them and you’ll never know when they’re coming.
Over the years I’ve had agent issues, publishers closing or closing the line you write for as well as personal issues determined to derail.
I thought back to the last of these soul searing events and here’s how I coped. I gathered my people. My author friends. Those who’ve been on this journey with me for a long time. We ate, we drank, we talked and we planned.
Yes, I’m very, very lucky to have them. They’re my backup. They’re brutally honest and yet fiercely loyal. They won’t blow hot air up my skirt. But out of the train crash inside my head, they help me to find the pieces and put them back together again. I came away with a plan and direction. It was all there in my head, they just saw through the smog.
If you don’t have such a group, find one. If you can’t find a physical group to join, online groups abound for whatever you write. You’ll find your soulmates.
- Will or have you entered any writing contests and if so how did you fair.
I’ve always been incredibly lucky in contests – I’ve always finalled and I’ve been fortunate to have been honoured with industry awards. But while I think the contests are great, I’m not sure they helped me personally with my career because I entered contests after I was already published.
That said, I recommend them. What they will do is give you a sense of where you stand in the scale of things. Contest feedback can be invaluable – whether you agree with the comments or not. Most have multiple judges though and if they’re all saying the same thing, or giving you the same-ish score – then you’d be a bit silly not to take heed.
- What are you working on at the minute?
Right at this minute the work is a bit of a departure, actually. My agent and I have been tossing around an adult suspense idea for a couple of years and now is the time to try it out. It’s huge fun. Like ditching school for the day – but with the added bonus of having permission! The next YA is back in the rural arena. More girls and horses! And very cute heroes!
- How can readers discover more about you and your work?
My website is being rebuilt! But soon you’ll find it at http://www.kazdelaney.com.au
Most of the news and action is on my blog: The Ditzy Diva – Kaz Delaney WordPress. I’d love you to drop by! https://wordpress.com/post/kazdelaney
I hope you all enjoyed finding out a little more about Kaz. If there is something you would like to know that I didn’t cover, you can drop her a question in the comments.
I am looking forward to reading more from Kaz, and again I want to welcome her to Aussie Owned and Read.
Rebecca Bosevski is the author of Enchanting The Fey, a fairy tale for grown-ups. She lives on the sunny coast of Australia with her husband and three children. When not writing she will often be found with her nose in a book.