How long have you been writing? Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
I published my first picture book at age five. I was the author, illustrator, editor and publisher. I even stapled the spine perfectly. It was the story of a car. It possessed human feelings.
Yes, I always knew I’d be a writer, but there were obstacles—children, career, etc.
Several years ago I experienced an epiphany. As a result I changed my life to accommodate what I’d always wanted to do. I undertook a course in creative writing and followed that with an advanced course. I haven’t stopped writing since.
What inspires you in your writing?
A scene will come to me. I’ll see it in great detail. This is usually the opening of the book and the story flows from there. I am usually astonished and delighted by how the plot unfolds.
Do you have a favourite place to write?
No, just a practical one, which is my desk with laptop and a separate monitor. I also have a tablet at hand. With all this technology I can flick from screen to screen and move information around. The romantic notion of fine paper and flowing fountain pen only works when I’m composing difficult scenes and need intense concentration.
Music while you write, yes or no?
Only to block out noise, if necessary.
What is your current favourite book? Or if you can’t name just one, what was your last five-star read?
When Richard Flanagan’s “The Narrow Road to the Deep North” was first released, I downloaded a sample, read a page or two and didn’t buy it. The Man Booker prize announcement made me rethink that decision. I was at Tullarmarine Airport, about to board a flight for Brisbane. I downloaded the book within minutes of hearing of the award and began reading it on the flight. Wow. I was totally captivated. It is some of the best writing I’ve had the joy of reading in years.
Tell me a little about The Secret Life of Julia Hawke.
Redemption is always an interesting theme. Julia Hawke finds herself in a position where she must fight to win back the affections of those she loves. She has to redeem her reputation. That’s hard when she has so much to hide.
The bond between women is also fascinating. It can be an unequal relationship which causes hurt to one of the people involved. The friendship between Julia and Rachel is examined closely in this book. I wish I could experience the unconditional friendship of someone like Rachel.
What’s one thing you want people to know about the book?
The first draft was darker and very edgy in parts. Two of my trusted beta-readers said it went too far. I used the Stephen King method--taking notice if more than one person gives the same feedback. I rewrote four chapters.
Describe the main character in three words.
Naïve, spoiled, maturing.
Raised on a flat and windy farm in rural Victoria, where rain fell 24/7/365 (or so it seemed to her), and where there was no public transport, Brenda soon found that survival from a ‘death by boredom’ lay in books, which she began devouring at a great rate.
This was quickly followed by writing in many forms. Long letters, diaries and short stories were her main outlets at that time.
As a young woman, Brenda escaped the rural existence and moved to a suburb of Melbourne. After twelve months she migrated to the warmth of the Sunshine Coast of Queensland.
A combination of motherhood and hard work curtailed her writing efforts for a few years. Eventually the itch to write became too much and she undertook classes in creative writing.
She had written several novels before the first was published. “In a House in Yemen” was printed in 2013 and this was quickly followed by “In Times of Trouble”. Both these stories are action-packed suspense thrillers. Both feature strong-willed female protagonists.
“In Conversations with Strangers” was next off the presses. This was a breakthrough into literary fiction which has since earned critical acclaim. In it, Janine arrives home unexpectedly one day to find something so shocking that it propels her on a road-trip across Australia. During this journey we find out about Janine and the extraordinary forces that have shaped her.
“In Strange Worlds” was published in February 2014. The protagonist, Meg, wakes to find that everybody else has died in their sleep. What does she do? How does she feel? Where does she go? This is an enthralling story and many readers have complained that it is too hard to put down.
Brenda is now living in Brisbane with her partner and daughters. She is currently drafting the third installment in the “Strange Worlds” series.
Julia Hawke and her friend Rachel are celebrating the end of their final year of schooling. They deceive their parents and embark on an adventure to the Gold Coast of Queensland.
Many years later, Julia is still keeping secrets in an attempt to hide what happened during those few, fateful days. A series of events force her to realise that keeping these secrets comes at too great a cost. What can Julia do to regain the trust of those she loves?
“The Secrets of Julia Hawke” explores, not only the destructive nature of secrets, but also the miracle of unconditional friendship.
http://bit.ly/secretsjuliahawke (Amazon for book)
http://bit.ly/brendacheers (Amazon author page)
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