Susanne Gervay [tor888]
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
I was obsessed by the biographies of the great composers - Mozart, Brahms, Beethoven, Liszt and all of those
I wrote instinctively. I thought every 8 year old had written a novel. I wrote for myself - for entertainment, to work out the world, to escape, about everything I experienced and thought about in life.
My beloved father would read my stories, even when he was tired after long days at work in the clothing factory.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
I write young adult and children's books, as well as short stories. My books are award winning real-life, emotional roller coasters which make you laugh and scream and cry and find friends on the pages.
I AM JACK my children's book is a rite-of-passage fiction on school bullying in Australia published by HareprCollins Australia. it has been translated into Bahasa, Korean, Vietnamese and will be published by Tricycle an imprint of RandomHosue USA in october 2009.
My YA novels are Butterflies, The Cave, That's Why I Wrote This Song where my teen daughter wrote the songs and lyrics that drive the narrative. You can hear her songs Psycho Dad and I Wanna Be Found via my website and on youtube.
My website is: www.sgervay.com
My Blog is: www.sgervay.com/blog
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
I get scared. It's really tough jumping into a journey that can take me years. And will I be good enough? And will I complete it? It's really hard work and my publishers edit my work and I rewrite and rewrite.
I live my books. I'm a 17 year old guy in THE CAVE and Katherine who's magnificent but burnt in BUTTERFLIES and all that - so it's emotionally exhausting.
However it's a wonderful journey too - one that makes me look at everything differently, intensely and deeply.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
Real story with emotions and honesty - books that take me into a trip that I believe like The Kite Runner
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
Caring about what you write about.
Caring about the characters that drive the story.
Writing something that matters.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
I like first person present tense, but you only have one viewpoint, so you have to be really confident in what you are writing to make it work.
Third person give you more choices and viewpoints.
What well known writers do you admire most?
Most of my friends are writers. I admire so many of them, but to start I admire these Australian authors:-
James Roy and so many more
International authors I admire include:-
JK Rowlings ... and heaps more
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
You have to move inside that character's skin and act authentically. Then when you know and feel that character, it willbe believable because YOU believe.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
I find telling stories orally is easier than writing them. You have so many opportunities to bring the audience into the storytelling taking it to new places. I was speaking a few days ago to some kids and teachers. One of the boys emailed me:-
Thank you so much for coming to my school, Haberfield Public School. You were so awsome and hilarious. I wish you were our school's comedian. I loved the part where you told us about the part in the wild west. Where people would point a gun in your face if you went into their nearby property and the part where you talked about your journey to Hong Kong. Ha Ha Ha!!!!! Although I haven't read your books, I think it was about time I started to. Overall, you were so cool. Nice description about the underwear grandma's use to give as a present!!!!!!!
So writing story is the HARD part.
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
I write for my children and the people I love.
I write for young people in particular because the world gets so rocky sometimes and I hope my books partner them to adulthood as friends.
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
Yes. Although I write for an audience I learn, grow, delve into angst, cry and laugh and heal.
I find I want to write more when I have conflicts, sadness, fear more easily than happiness.
Does reader feed-back help you?
Yes a lot. I ask my writing friends to read my work and I read theirs, then we edit and comment each other's writing. When my work goes to my publisher, my editor gives lots of useful advice and it helps me write a better book.
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
I sometimes participate into competitions, but I'd rather submit to journals. However I've won competitions like the National Short Story Award, Canberra University and the National Biennial Short Story Award from the Society of Women Writers.
Most awards I've received are for my books. My YA novel 'That's Why I Wrote This Song' just won the SanFrancisco Book Awards 2009 and is short listed for the WAYBRA Award.
'Butterflies' was awarded Outstanding Youth Literature on Disability, short listed for the Family Therapy Award, Western Australia Young Adult Award (WAYBRA).
'The Cave' won the Biennial Society of Women's YA Book Award
'I AM JACK' received a Notable Award CBCA, short listed for Chidlren's Peace Awards, Family Thearapy Awards, runner-up for the San Francisco Children's Book Award 2009.
And I have won other awards for my other books.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
I share with my author friends as I'd like my manuscript to be a good as possible before I submit.
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
My voice is there in my work. I'm looking for story and greater understanding, rather than voice these days.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
I get nervous because my life is so busy with marketing for the Arts hotel, The Hughenden in Sydney, being co-head of Society of Children's Witers Book Writers and Illustrators SCBWI, Chair of the Sydney Writers and Illustrators at The Hughenden, on the board of the NSW Writers Centre, speaking at numerous festivals from Beijing to Ubud in Bali, as well as touring with MONKEYBAA THEATRE for Young People who have adapted my book I AM JACK and is being performed in major theatres in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Newcastle and rehional theatres .... well, I am time strapped.
I am the Director of the Kids and Young Adult Literature Festival at the NSW Writers Centre 4-5th July. I have just finished the programme. Melina Marchetta is going to launch it and many wonderful authors and publishers. I plan to launch Room to Read there too - bring literacy to the kids of the 3rd world www.roomtoread.org
I have a contract for a JACK (the 3rd book in the seies, I AM JACK, SUPER JACK and the third book) and have done one chapter so far.
I am starting seriously to write next week and will get up at 5 am and work until 10 am every day if I can.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
My computer and a CD - love music.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
I'd get nothing done without my computer and the internet. I work and rework my writing on the computer only.
What sites do you frequent on-line to share experiences or information?
SCBWI network (www.scbwiaustralia.org), PIO (Pass it ON), BUZZ WORDS and my community of authors and illustrators.
What has been your experience with publishers?
It is very hard to get a publisher and I spent several years submitting. I was selected from the slush pile and so my career started.
The Australian publishers are my friends. However it is still a tough road as publishers are subject to financial constraints and they can reject work because the account/marketing departments don't like the project.
It's a complex relationship. My major publisher is HarperCollins Australia. Overseas I have different publishers.
What are you working on now?
I have a contract for JACK from HarperCollins Australia - the 3rd in the JACK series: I AM JACK, SUPER JACK and JACK (that's what I am writing).
It's a 30,000 words children's book.
I have been asked to write a sequal to my YA novel - 'That's Why I Wrote This Song' - which is a 70,000 complex novel where my daughter's songs are integrated into the text. it's a beautiful book, but very hard with a film, sheet music, produced songs, lyrics ....
If That's Why I Wrote This Song' became a best seller, then I'd do it. Meanwhile I have to write JACK.
What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
Publication does not determine if you are a writer or not. It's about being read by others. If you're a REAL writer, then you must have COURAGE.
The courage to come out of the closet, show your work, risk rejection and negative comments, otherwise you are not a writer.
I risked. I got hurt. However there were great times too. I am a writer.