Q & A with Author Julie Proudfoot

Julie Proudfoot is an Australian writer and blogger who has had fiction, poetry and non-fiction works published in various journals. She holds degrees in Psychology and Sociology from LaTrobe University. Her novella, The Neighbour, is her first long-form work, and the winner of the Seizure Viva La Novella contest. She has worked as a bookseller, creative writing mentor, property manager and dental nurse. Julie now writes full time from her home in Bendigo, Victoria, where she lives with her husband and children.

Julie is very pleased to be appearing at the Bendigo Writers Festival in August 2014 for two events, firstly as chair of the panel, ‘Girl, you’ll be a woman soon’, with authors Nicole Hayes, Kirsten Krauth and Jenny Valentish, and also for her launch of The Neighbour.

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What was the inspiration behind your novel The Neighbour?

I heard about an electrical accident involving a strange thing called reverse polarity – you may need to look that up, I certainly did! – and as all writers do, I wondered about the consequences of such an accident. I created a character, Luke, placed him in such a situation and jumped in his mind and let it all unravel. My background is in psychology so it was always going to have a psychological bent.

How did The Neighbour come to be written and published?

I began The Neighbour as a project in a novel writing class. It was entitled Drowning back then. The novel class ended up being a lost cause, but I continued with the idea for the book on my own. An editor I employed to look at the manuscript (M.J. Editing) suggested I submit it to the Seizure Viva la Novella competition, which I did, and I was so very lucky to win. Part of the prize was publication with Xoum Publishing. I consider myself very lucky to have won that prize.

When did you first start writing? When did you decide that you wanted to ‘be a writer’?

Everyone writes when they are a child don’t they? So it would be boring to say that. The first time I voiced the desire to write was to a friend when I was in my late teens. The conversation went like this:

Her: I hate my job

Me: Me too

Her: What else would you do?

Me: I’d be a writer

Her: what would you write?

Me: Don’t know. I haven’t lived enough life yet.

The conversation took place in a park on swings. I remember it vividly. I guess I’ve lived enough life now.

Who would you say are your writing influences?

The first time I read something that made me think, yeah, I’d like to do that, was Elizabeth Jolley’s The Well, and Kate Grenville’s Dreamhouse, but the authors that inspire me to write are people like Martin Amis, Doris Lessing, and Flann O’brien, or more recently, Margo Lanagan, Favel Parrett, and Charlotte Wood.

What are your writing habits?

My good habits or my bad? My bad habits are a drawer full of lollies/sweets that I munch faster and faster as the writing pace increases, and coffee. Although I can’t drink much coffee because it gives me leg cramps (imagine what it does to heart muscles) so I save coffee for when I really need my brain to be slippery.

My good habits? I write in the mornings, usually. I used to write on paper then translate to screen, essentially doing two drafts, but it takes too long, so I now only write straight to screen, although the two ways result in completely different styles.

I used to be a pantser, but I’m a big fan of plotting now. The plot changes frequently as I go along, but I find it a more productive way to write.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? And if so, how do you overcome it?

Plotting really helps with that, but I’m lucky to have leant a way to divert my brain past that kind of dithering. For a long time, years, I did a thing called Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages which are three pages of diary-type writing every morning. If I get stuck, I give myself a topic, perhaps a point or two that I’d like to get across, and I go for it. It naturally ends up being three pages now, which is a good base for any chapter.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on my next book about a man who takes up with a robot to work through his unusual relationship issues. It has a light-hearted fun aspect, but also delves into relationship dynamics while belting out a good story. Again, it has a psychological bent.

Buy the book, connect with Julie on Twitter or Facebook, or visit her blog.

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Q   A with Author Julie Proudfoot   ANNABEL SMITH

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