Where did my writing journey begin? In an attic bedroom in Hobart at eight years old. There was a cherry-plum tree outside my window and I used to see an angel in the branches. I took to writing poems for the angel and putting them on the window-sill so it could read them. Decades later, I'm still writing poems, often about 'angels' or other mythological beings, Orpheus and Isis being two of my favourite writing companions. As a child, I consumed books, particularly fantasy, such as the Narnia books, 'The Hobbit', Susan Cooper's 'The Dark is Rising' sequence, Alan Garner's novels and Antonia Barber's 'The Amazing Mr. Blunden', a ghost story that 'haunted' me for years after.
As my family moved to and fro across Australia, books became one of the constants in life. My mind was brimming with Austen, the Brontes, Dickens, Hardy, Collins, Trollope, George Elliot, Virginia Woolf, and then with French writers; Maupassant, Balzac, Zola, Hugo, Flaubert, Camus. At fourteen I read 'Lord of the Rings' and started exchanging letters in elvish with my best friend, thanks to Tolkien's linguistic finesse. Science fiction came on board with 'Dune', Asimov's 'Foundation' series and Philip K. Dicks. I dived into Egyptian, Greek, Germanic and Norse mythology at the same time and started writing my own mythical world, complete with languages and hundreds of drawings. Amazingly, that storyworld is still with me virtually unchanged, although its characters and their experiences have undergone radical alterations along the way. I continued to write in this world right up to late twenties, but on realising it had become 'tainted' with reflected personal traumas, decided to destroy the lot, some three and a half thousand pages! I stopped writing, except for the occasional poem...and vast amounts of essays, undergraduate and postgraduate research papers mostly on medieval art and films (two great sources of myths, past and current).
During all of that, I kept reading fantasy novels, although I got tired of formulaic repetitions. Then, when I moved house a few years ago and unpacked some old boxes, I found a few remnants of my storyworld that had escaped the purge and began to ponder reworking them into a 'novel'. It seemed a risky undertaking, since it was really 'personal writing', but I started to feel it might have something other readers could connect to or enjoy (or even both!). This experiment has so far taken a couple of years, with pitfalls and stumbling blocks abounding, and is far, far from complete. But I'm gradually getting a handle on the writer's craft, with thanks to my writerly friends, and becoming more determined...which is just as well, since the novel is now turning into a vast epic trilogy!