We are so pleased to share our first author as a part of the ROAR network. Lynette has taken the time to talk about her love of writing and what it takes to publish a book. We have known Lynette during her journey to achieving her dream of publishing a book and we were so excited to enter our local bookstore and be able to purchase 'Afterworld' off the shelf. It is a fantastic story with adventure, excitement and love. It's definitely a book we couldn't put down and if your after a good read it is available at all good book stores and online. Follow Lynnette's author page on Facebook and get an insight into her writing experience below.
ROAR: Tell us a bit about how writing became such an important part of your life. Were you always into it?
Lynnette: Yes – always into it. My dad used to get the Sunday paper when I was a kid and there was a section for young writers. I was so incredibly desperate to get published in there (partly because there were also prizes, I admit) that I wrote a poem entitled “Autumn”. It wasn’t very good, it wasn’t even metaphorical, but it did rhyme and it got published and I got to bring it in to my Year 2 class for “News”. I started writing longer stories in high school and would fill up school books with them and then pass them around to other girls in my class and get them to read and write reviews in the back. These stories were either really tragic love stories or fantasy tales about unicorns. I studied writing at University (I’m still studying it!). I’ve worked as a freelance writer doing everything from health writing for newspapers to travel reviews for websites and advice columns in a bridal magazine. I even wrote an article for “Birdkeeping Australia” once. It’s just one of those things I feel compelled to do. That’s not to say that words just flow out of me, it’s still very hard work, but I do it because I love it.
ROAR: Where did the ideas, characters and story of 'Afterworld' come from? How long did it take to complete the whole process?
Lynette: I remember the exact moment I had the idea, I loved it so much I called Jim (my husband) straight away and told him I was going to write the book. I like tragedies and I just thought it would be great to follow a story all the way passed the tragic ending where the hero died. The ideas are a mix of my historical studies (I teach ancient Egyptian and Roman history) and my interest in spirituality. I’ve read quite a bit about global consciousness – the idea that group beliefs are very powerful - and so I explored that idea with the afterlife. “What if the afterlife is a mixture of everything everyone has ever believed about death?” And since that would mean thousands of years of Egyptian, Greek, and Roman belief – those featured quite heavily.
The characters came from all over the place. Dom is the sort of teenager who doesn’t usually get portrayed in books as a hero. He is quite depressive, he feels out of place in his skin, his family and his country. I wanted him to be someone who isn’t really enjoying his life. I thought that person would be an interesting person to follow into death. Kaide is based on a girl I went to high school with – she had an astonishing personality. No matter what happened in her life (and plenty of difficult things happened to her), she floated above it all – she just loved life. I’ve always been inspired by the way she chose to see the best all the time.
Satarial is based on a character in the Book of Enoch, an ancient Jewish manuscript that talks about the “Watchers” who were part angel and part human. Anubis is based on both the Egyptian god and the Norse god Loki. He is one of the gods, but he doesn’t fit in and spends his time causing trouble. My favourite character is Eduardo, the tragic romantic (who was based on the mythological angel Metatron, “The Guardian”). He is tired and pathetic, but at the same time incredibly strong and incorruptible.
ROAR: What events lead to finding a publisher and getting the book published and in book stores? What were some highlights and also some challenges?
Lynnette: It took about two years to finish the first draft of the manuscript. After that I sent it to Allen&Unwin. They were the only people I sent it to. About six weeks later they emailed me with some questions about the story and then after a couple of meetings with one of their publishers they offered me a book deal. It was a really positive experience for me, they are all incredibly supportive professionals. Then I had to learn a great deal of patience because it took another two years before the book was actually released. During that time I rewrote it, lengthened it, shortened it and worked with a fantastic editor on fixing all the little things you can’t see as a writer. This was really challenging. I’ve cut out whole chapters from my original story and condensed three books into one. It’s hard to do that as a writer because you become attached to your story. Possibly the greatest highlight was seeing the cover. I didn’t have any say in the design but when I saw it I knew it was exactly right for the story. It’s all about walking into the light rather than out of it. Posting off a copy to my high school English teacher was also an amazing feeling.
ROAR: Now that the book is out in all book stores and available online what is the plan? Do you have book signings, events etc.
Lynnette: At the moment I am doing a lot of online interviews with the blogging world and we have a big launch party and reading happening in April in Sydney that should be fun. There will be plenty of invites available to the public to this too, so people can watch my Facebook author page for details on that and I’d love to see them. And of course I’m well underway on two other books.
ROAR: We think it would be an awesome film as well! Any plans there?
Lynnette: Ah… yes. Well, that is the plan. If you’ve read the book though, then you know it’s not a “small-budget” film, so it will have to be the right people to make this one. I have, of course, cast the movie in head already…
ROAR: Could you give some advice to people dreaming of being a writer and one day publishing a book?
Lynnette: The hardest part, by far, is actually getting the words onto the paper. People talk about how difficult finding a publisher is, and that wasn’t my experience at all. Even if that doesn’t work out for you, you can always publish your own work. Just get it down. And don’t convince yourself you will write when you have more time. We have to write around jobs and kids and travel and illness and life… parts of Afterworld were literally written at a speed of one sentence a day… but I got it done. One of my favourite quotes is by Earl Nightingale and it sums up my advice to all other writers – “Never give up on a dream because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”